[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] T [/yt_dropcap]he many projects circulating in Italy, as well as in the other NATO and EU countries, for the “new EU Army” lack a nuclear and chemical-bacteriological perspective, without which any Joint Armed Force in Europe – after the withdrawal of a nuclear power such as Great Britain from the EU – would be little more than a group of scouts or amateurs.
Moreover, the probable reduced US interest in European defense, combined with a possible series of tensions with the Russian Federation, make it necessary to rethink the European nuclear arsenal (as well as the chemical-bacteriological one) and the whole Eurasian peninsula’s defense doctrine.
We are all still living in the Cold War spell. Of course, Russia is no longer the arch-enemy it was at that time, but it is definitely a EU global competitor with which strategic and economic agreements can and must be reached, which – however – has different views about Eurasia, the Middle East and Central Asia.
Different views not only from the American ones, but also alien to a properly understood European interest.
Therefore, after Brexit, France remains the only European nuclear power.
Thanks to its national strategic nuclear structure, France wants to “prevent war”, be it nuclear or conventional.
Also in the case of France, the doctrine has not changed much from the one in force during the Cold War, even though currently the misplaced theme of “terrorism”, which is rather strictly jihad, sees France using its nuclear triad against terrorist organizations or the “Heads of State using weapon of mass destruction against France’s territory and interests”.
Too little. And what would happen if China launched a missile attack on France?
The nuclear theory must analyze all scenarios, not just those who are thought to be the most likely.
Moreover, in his speech of January 19, 2006, President Chirac pointed again to the legitimate use of the force de frappe (the military strike force) “against the leaders of the countries using terrorist methods” and “against those who want to use weapons of mass destruction” – and this applied both to the French territory and to the “neighbouring States.”
A nuclear strategic launch against the “leaders” of a country?
It is also true that the French nuclear system is extremely refined and sophisticated with regard to the accuracy of the weapons used, which – however – are not individual weapons used against a criminal.
Therefore, in essence, this is the question to be posed: is France interested in pooling its strategic nuclear arsenal with other countries, after Brexit?
Certainly a role as holder of the nuclear response would make France become the true dominus of the EU Army and of Europe, but it is equally true that France would never accept to defend intra-European targets in which it is not interested or which divert technologies and means from the already planned defense points.
Hence it would be a defense halfway, without even putting into question the issue of the chemical and bacteriological weapons of the future EU Army.
Not to mention nuclear-powered carriers, which are as important as the technology they use as weapon.
Moreover Germany – which has always been suspicious of nuclear weapons which, during the Cold War, were designed to hit targets inside the German territory – wants a strategic nuclear response organized on the basis of the existing French and British arsenals.
Germany does not want to be alone to manage a French-only nuclear arsenal – hence bound to “sacrifice” German areas, where needed, to defend positions and populations inside the French border.
Neither Germany nor Italy, however, cannot believe that strategic competition or nuclear compensation between Great Britain and France can be chosen or directed by the States which are protected almost for free.
Currently the six NATO bases hosting nuclear weapons are Kleine Brogel, Belgium; Buchel, Germany; Aviano and Ghedi, Italy; Volkel, Netherlands and Incirlik, Turkey.
They host 180 nuclear devices.
Other US nuclear weapons in Europe are currently hosted in Lakenheath, UK; Nörvenich and Ramstein, Germany, in addition to the other above mentioned German bases; Araxos, Greece and Akinci and Bolkesir, Turkey, in addition to the above stated Incirlik Turkish base.
During Barack Obama’s Presidency, the United States drew up the EPAA (European Phased Adaptive Approach) program, which is expected to progressively protect the whole of Europe, although with targets and timing obviously chosen by the United States.
Furthermore we do not believe that currently the extension of the EPAA program from 2011 to 2020 would not be financially supported by the individual European countries accepting it.
In the first phase, US ships with AEGIS interceptors (with Arleigh-Burke ships) and RIM 161 SM3 missiles operating against short- and medium-range enemy missiles will come. This has already happened in the base of Rota, Spain.
Obviously, this means – at first – to protect the US forces already present in the South-Mediterranean region.
At a later stage, the United States will add a ground component to the SM-3 missiles to the North and South of Europe, always targeted against short- and medium-range nuclear intrusions.
Finally, in 2018, the whole of Europe should be covered by a network of SM-3 missiles having only a limited ability to hit the Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs).
Hence we are back to square one.
Without adequate coverage and ability to retaliate against an ICBM attack, the European defense – with or without the US support – is a wet fuse.
Moreover, currently France uses ballistic missiles only in the maritime component of the nuclear triad (land-sea-air), while the land-based missiles have been “decommissioned” since 1996.
France, however, still has nuclear cruise missiles that can be carried on aircraft used – according to the current French nuclear doctrine – as “tactical weapon” preceding the phase of the real nuclear attack.
The “ultimate deterrence” before a counterforce nuclear salvo.
It is not enough and, in any case, the French doctrine is not sufficient to autonomously defend the European territory – and probably nor its nuclear warheads are enough.
Moreover, Phase 4 of the US EPAA program envisages the presence of missiles in Europe, including the long-range ones, only from 2020 onwards, but obviously only with a US “key”.
It is worth recalling here the old question a great strategist – and hence great politician – Charles de Gaulle, put to the North American ambassador to Paris in 1965: “What would you do if a Soviet missile hit Lyon?” That is to say: in terms of nuclear strategy, does Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty really apply? Just for the record, the US diplomat remained silent.
As we have already seen, currently the nuclear bombs hosted in Europe are over 180 and are B-61 weapons, model 3-4-7-10.
The aforementioned weapon can also be carried by the new F-35 fighter jets, as well as by the old Tornado or F-16 ones.
Within 2018, all B-61 nuclear weapons will be converted into the Mod-12 version.
A weapon that will be available in the 0.3 kiloton explosive yield, which is 50 times less powerful than the Hiroshima bomb, up to a maximum of 50 kiloton explosive yield.
The Mod-12 version has a strong “bunker-buster” characterization, namely designed to penetrate hardened targets or targets buried deep underground, such as military bunkers.
The over 180 nuclear bombs present in the EU would anyway be credible deterrence, considering that – as to number and power – they would not be enough to destroy the enemy command line, but could be useful against countries that can make or want to make nuclear bombs “at home” and with a low potential.
This means that Russia has no deterrence, while countries which currently have other things to think about than nuclear strategy might be blocked in the nuclear ”rise to extremes”. Or it is possibly thought that this nuclear posture may deter the makers of some “dirty bomb”.
Rather weak strategic thinking – if we may say so.
However, which would be these countries subjected to European deterrence? Certainly neither Iran nor the Russian Federation, nor some Maghreb countries such as Morocco and Egypt – considering their small nuclear capacity.
Therefore it is just a mere political guarantee in the US hands and under its direct command.
In this context, some German analysts have suggested that the entire French nuclear system may be extended to the EU, with almost exclusively German funding and in parallel with – and not as an alternative to – the US deterrence already present in Europe.
We have seen, however, that, apart from the maritime component, the French arsenal has no true potential against the ICBMs and probably against intermediate-range nuclear carriers, if they are many and launched from sites near EU borders.
Finally, France wants to maintain absolute discretionary power on the targets and the use of its nuclear deterrent which, in the event of an extension of the French umbrella to the whole EU, should protect the Baltic States from an attack of the Russian Forces – also a conventional one.
No one wants to wake up the Russian bear, but rather to make it understand that the first Russian nuclear salvo could lead to such a counter-salvo as to cause sufficiently severe counterforce damage, but not enough to block a second salvo, which would become the basis for a political negotiation.
Moreover, in the event of a nuclear attack on Russia, it would still launch nuclear carriers directly against North America. Currently this is no longer tolerable for the United States, which has no intention of protecting a geoeconomic competitor, namely the European Union, at almost zero cost for the Europeans themselves.
However, how is the Russian Federation organized in the field of nuclear war?
According to the latest data exchanged with the West, according to the START Treaty, Russia has 1,643 nuclear warheads carried on 528 strategic delivery systems.
France has 300 nuclear warheads. They are placed on four submarines and the air component is supplied to four air squadrons.
Britain has 215 nuclear warheads. In this case, too, the carrier is mainly maritime.
China owns 260 nuclear bombs; India has 120 nuclear warheads and Pakistan 130.
Russia keeps on producing the RS 24 YARS missile (NATO reporting name: SS-29), which is a land-transportable ICBM, while it has just manufactured a new land-transportable ICBM, namely the RS-26 RUBEZH, which is specifically targeted against the enemy missile defenses.
The RS 24 is a multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV), which can accommodate multiple warheads and has an 11,000 kilometer range, while the RUBEZH can reach up to 12,600 kilometers.
There is also a new Russian ICBM in an advanced manufacturing stage, which will be completed in 2018 and will be operational in 2019, which is placed in silos and will be liquid fuel-propelled.
As to the maritime component of the nuclear threat, in 2013 Russia already developed and deployed the R-30 BULAVA (NATO reporting name: SS-NX-30 MACE), which will be launched by the new Borei class submarines which became operational in 2013.
The BULAVA has a range of 8,000 to 10,000 kilometers.
The air component of the Russian nuclear triad is composed mainly by the Kh-55 missiles (NATO reporting name: AS-15 KENT), having a range of up to 2,500 kilometers, which are usually launched by Tupolev 95 MS (NATO reporting name: BEAR H) and Tupolev 160 (NATO reporting name: BLACKJACK) strategic bombers.
The latter is a supersonic variable-sweep wing heavy strategic bomber, with a possible load of 40 nuclear and conventional tons.
Russia has also developed another air-to-surface long-range nuclear cruise missile, namely the KH 101.
Furthermore, the Russian Federation is still making Ground Launched Cruise Missiles (GLCMs) such as the R500, operational.
Alias “Iskander”, the above stated GLCM is wire-guided and has a 500 kilometer range.
For Russia, nuclear weapons and their use are needed to implement the new Russian national security doctrine, which consists in reaffirming its role as independent leading power in the world, in a global security scenario which is fluid, dangerous and uncertain, with fierce competition for economic and intangible resources.
Russia also believes that the world is heading for a polycentric composition of the new powers. Finally Russia thinks it must be surrounded by buffer zones protecting it against any kind of external threat.
Hence, if we consider also the French stand-alone nuclear force, and its doctrine of immediate “anti-terror” use, as well as the US network of medium-to-short range missiles, for the protection of Forces more than of the territory, we are faced with an unreasonable strategic equation.
It is not useful for deterrence vis-à-vis Russia and it is not needed for defense against the so-called “dirty bombs”. It is not even useful to protect us from a possible nuclear salvo launched by a terrorist group.
Therefore the Russian Federation can hit the EU territory at a long range, while the possible European and NATO response is based on medium-to-short range nuclear weapons just hitting the first frontline of the enemy’s attack.
Probably within the European borders.
However, for the Russian Federation, to what extent the nuclear set-up which is emerging in Europe (not considering the chemical and bacteriological component) may act as a deterrent?
This is a question which can be answered only by the Russian political and military decision-makers, who have every interest in keeping the strategic pressure on Europe high so as to create political and economic equilibriums they could not reach without the nuclear asymmetry in their favour.
Sleepwalking Toward Nuclear War
Authors: Des Browne, Wolfgang Ischinger, Igor S. Ivanov, Sam Nunn
This weekend marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, one of the world’s most horrific conflicts. One of the best accounts of how this tragedy began, by the historian Christopher Clark, details how a group of well-meaning European leaders—“The Sleepwalkers”—led their nations into a war with 40 million military and civilian casualties. Today, we face similar risks of mutual misunderstandings and unintended signals, compounded by the potential for the use of nuclear weapons—where millions could be killed in minutes rather than over four years of protracted trench warfare. Do we have the tools to prevent an incident turning into unimaginable catastrophe?
For those gripped with complacency, consider this scenario. It is 2019. Russia is conducting a large military exercise in its territory bordering NATO. A NATO observer aircraft accidentally approaches Russian airspace, and is shot down by a Russian surface to air missile. Alarmed, NATO begins to mobilize reinforcements. There is concern on both sides over recent nuclear deployments in the wake of the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Suddenly, both NATO and Russia issue ultimatums—each noting their respective nuclear capabilities and willingness to use them if vital interests are threatened. Europe is edging towards a conventional conflict, and the risk of escalation to nuclear use is very real.
Each of the strands in this hypothetical scenario is visible in the wind today, exacerbated by new threats—such as cyber risks to early warning and command and control systems, which can emerge at any point in a crisis and trigger misunderstandings and unintended signals that could accelerate nations toward war. This is all happening against a backdrop of unease and uncertainty in much of the Euro-Atlantic region resulting from the Ukraine crisis, Syria, migration, Brexit, new technologies, and new and untested leaders now emerging in many Euro-Atlantic states.
What can be done to stop this drift toward madness?
When leaders from across Europe meet in Paris on 11 November to mark the 100th anniversary of the conclusion of World War I, those with nuclear weapons—President Donald Trump, President Vladimir Putin, President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Theresa May—should reinforce the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. This principle, articulated at the height of the Cold War by the presidents of the United States and Russia, was embraced then by all European countries. It would communicate that leaders today recognize their responsibility to work together to prevent nuclear catastrophe and provide a foundation for other practical steps to reduce the risk of nuclear use—including resolving the current problems with INF and extending the New START Treaty through 2026.
There remains the challenge of rebuilding trust between the United States, NATO and Russia so that it will again be possible to address major security challenges in the Euro-Atlantic region. This was done throughout the Cold War and must again be done today. This process could begin with a direction by leaders to their respective governments to renew a mutually beneficial dialogue on crisis management, especially in absence of trust.
Crisis management dialogue was an essential tool throughout the Cold War—used for managing the “day-to-day” of potentially dangerous military activities, not for sending political signals. Leaders should not deprive themselves of this essential tool today. Used properly, crisis management can be instrumental in avoiding a crisis ever reaching the point where military forces clash inadvertently or where the use of nuclear weapons needs to be signaled, let alone considered, by leaders with perhaps only minutes to make such a fateful choice.
In reviewing the run up to past wars, there is one common denominator: those involved in the decision making have looked back and wondered how it could have happened, and happened so quickly? In Paris next week, 100 years after the guns across Europe fell silent, leaders can begin taking important steps to ensure a new and devastating war will not happen today.
Des Browne, a former British defense secretary, is Vice Chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative and Chair of the European Leadership Network.
Wolfgang Ischinger, former German Ambassador to the United States, is Chairman of the Munich Security Conference and Professor for Security Policy and Diplomatic Practice at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.
Igor S. Ivanov, former Russian Foreign Minister and Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation from 2004 to 2007, is President of the Russian International Affairs Council.
Sam Nunn, a former Democratic US senator, is Co-Chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative.
First published in our partner RIAC
S-400: A Game Changer in South Asia
India and Russia have signed a US$5b deal, under which India will receive S-400 air defence missile system – that is poised to be game changer in South Asian strategic environment.
The Russians have definitely made a breakthrough with sales of weapons to some NATO countries with uncertain futures in the bloc (e.g. Greece, Turkey) and strong US client countries such as Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states such as the UAE. India’s procurement of five S-400 regiments that is expected to be completed in 2020 is something that is giving a new dynamics to the issue.
The main usage of S-400 long-range missile is against stand-off systems including flying command posts and aircraft such as the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS). These aircraft, which are used by the US and its NATO allies with a squadron stationed in Japan at Kadena Air Force Base and in the UAE at al-Dhafra, are vulnerable to S-400 interceptors and lose their stand-off range protection.
The S-400 missile system is a state-of-the-art air defence and anti ballistic missile platform with a maximum range of 400km against aircraft while reportedly can engage ballistic missiles at 40km range. It is considered one of the best defense systems in existence. Russian-made Almaz-Antei S-400 Triumf air defense systems (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) are expected to be fully integrated with the Indian Air Force’s IACCS (integrated air command and control system). The IACCS is an automated command and control system for air defense, which integrates the service’s air and ground-based air sensors and weapons systems.
The S-400 Triumph missile defense system is a significant strategic upgrade in India’s military hardware and in its pursuit to become a global power. The development is particularly worrisome for Pakistan. The system if deployed along Pakistan border will provide India an edge of 600kms radar coverage with option of shooting down incoming aircraft from 400kms from its territory.
However, India’s purchase of S-400s and its option to acquire upgraded US Patriot systems remains on the table as well. This extensive arms shopping spree by Indian side includes C-17 Globemaster and C-130J transport aircraft, P-8(I) maritime reconnaissance aircraft, M777 lightweight howitzers, Harpoon missiles, and Apache and Chinook helicopters. The US will likely accept India’s request for Sea Guardian drones, and American manufacturers including Lockheed Martin and Boeing are contenders for mega arms deals with India. This (S-400) will further destabilize strategic stability in South Asia, besides leading to a renewed arms race which is disadvantageous for the peace of entire region.
The Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) law tries to push back against Russia’s malign activity around the world.
“We urge all of our allies and partners to forgo transactions with Russia that would trigger sanctions under CAATSA,” a State Department Spokesperson said
When asked about India’s plan to purchase multi-billion S-400 missile defense system from Russia.
“The Administration has indicated that a focus area for the implementation of CAATSA Section 231 is new or qualitative upgrades in capability – including the S-400 air and missile defense system,” the spokesperson said.
Islamabad has from decades faced various stringent sanctions and severe political pressure from Washington. This all is evident from opposition over transfer of any sophisticated arms including the F-16s falcons.
The silence over such issue by Washington seems to be a part of its ‘Pivot to Asia’ policy, considering China as the next global adversary. Washington is in a difficult position where it is seeking to bolster ties with India to counter China’s growing assertiveness while maintaining pressure on Russia. Whereas, China may not fret over the S-400 system deal provided to India but it will have implications for Pakistan’s Air Force and missile program both.
Finally, it cannot be underestimated that most of Indian defense system is Pakistan centric. As far conventional weapons are concerned, the balance has always been in India’s favor, because of India’s better and larger economy. Therefore, Pakistan is concerned about this deal keeping in mind that it disrupts the equation of conventional weapons that exist in this region.
The induction of S-400 might lower the nuclear threshold to a new level that is already precarious with the waivers and blessings by big powers to India. These moves have the capacity to lead the region in a spiraling arms race which can bring about an increase in instability through the escalation of an already dangerous arms buildup in the region.
Revisiting the No First Use Policy of India Vis-À-Vis India’s Nuclear Doctrine
The object of deterrence is to persuade an adversary that the costs to him of seeking a military solution to his political problems will far outweigh the benefits. The object of reassurance is to persuade one’s own people, and those of one’s allies, that the benefits of military action, or preparation for it, will outweigh the costs.The object of reassurance is to persuade one’s own people, and those of one’s allies, that the benefits of military action, or preparation for it, will outweigh the costs.- Michael Howard
India’s new political discourse on revisiting its nuclear doctrine has once again attracted transnational debate on the efficacy of no first use policies, despite the fact that India has repeatedly recapitulated that it is amenable to negotiate no first use treaties bilaterally or multilaterally with all nuclear weapons states including China and Pakistan. Foreign policy and strategic affairs are developed on the basis of a country’s long-term national interests and soft-power and take into consideration both internal diaspora and external factors. The foreign policy of a country does not change when governments change, but the foreign diplomacy and strategic priorities undergo changes. The Narendra Modi government has so far not suggested any change in the nuclear doctrine or the No First Use (NFU) policy on which India’s declaratory nuclear doctrine is based, but the BJP’s election manifesto promised to “study in detail India’s nuclear doctrine, and revise and update it, to make it relevant to challenges of current times.” The debate was further fuelled when former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar questioned NFU policy reckoning national responsibility and political independence. Former Commander-in-Chief of Indian Strategic Forces, Lt-Gen BS Nagal, questioned NFU doctrine by posting whether it was viable for India’s political leadership to accept huge casualties by subduing its hand, realising that Pakistan was about to use nuclear weapons.
The Donald Trump administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review embellishes the range of significant non-nuclear strategic scenarios in which the United States may scrutinize nuclear weapons use. After the recent visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to China last week, China appreciated steps taken by Pakistan in strengthening the global non-proliferation regime. The joint statement issued;“In this context, China supports Pakistan’s engagement with the Nuclear Suppliers Group and welcomes its adherence of Nuclear Suppliers (NSG) Group Guidelines,” while Beijing’s political clout continues to barricade India’s bid in becoming a member of the NSG, the 48-member crème da la crème league, which administers global nuclear trade. The Indian nuclear doctrine was articulated in 1999 and looking at the current geopolitical developments across the world especially the growing friendship of our neighbours, it is high time to review it. The main features of India’s nuclear doctrine as summarized by Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meeting in January 2003, held over four and a half years after the May 1998 tests are:(i)Establishing and maintaining a credible minimum deterrent; (ii) A “No First Use” policy, i.e. nuclear weapons to be used only “in retaliation against a nuclear attack on Indian territory or on Indian forces anywhere”; (iii)Nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be “massive” and designed to inflict “unacceptable damage” and such a nuclear retaliatory attack can be authorized only by civilian political leadership through the Nuclear Command Authority; (iv) No use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states; (v) India to retain recourse of retaliating with nuclear weapons in the event of a major attack against it with biological or chemical weapons; (vi) Continuance of strict restrictions on the export of nuclear and missile-related materials and technologies, participation in FMCT negotiations, continued moratorium on testing; and (vii) Take measures for establishing a nuclear weapon free world, through global, verifiable and non-discriminatory disarmament.
It is a common misconception that the locution ‘No first use’ is China’s contribution to international peace and stability. In actuality, the no first use formulation dates back to circa 1925 when the international community concluded a no first use treaty on chemical weapons and toxins in the Geneva Protocol. India’s not so detailed nuclear doctrine based on the concept of NFU is ambiguously strengthen by a policy of assured massive retaliation. The intent of the active retaliatory provision is to convince warmongers that, any threat or use of nuclear weapons against India shall involve measures to counter the threat, and any nuclear attack on India and its forces anywhere shall result in massive retaliation, inflicting damage to the adversary. It means that if anyone dared use nuclear weapons against India, the nation would confidently retaliate and inflict unacceptable damage on the initiator. This is India’s doctrine of credible deterrence. Picking up from this interpretation, it is clear that the Indian doctrine is hinged on the concept of deterrence by denial and not by punishment. This diplomacy is intended to put the adversary on notice that the use of nuclear weapons will imply massive retaliation. The nature of retaliation and the parameter to judge massiveness is still vague, while a policy of assured retaliation, combined with a small nuclear force built on the principle of sufficiency, could overall be characterised as minimum deterrence. China backed Pakistani government officials and diplomats have been explicitly critical of India’s no first use doctrine on the grounds that it is only a declaratory policy and can be easily amended when the necessity arises.
The nuclear doctrine of a country decides a country’s nuclear force structure, command and control system, alert status and its deployment posture. The prerequisites of the First use doctrine are hair-trigger alerts, launch-on-warning and launch-through-attack strategies and elaborate surveillance, early warning and intelligence systems with nuclear warheads loaded on launchers and ready to fire. Jaswant Singh in ‘Against Nuclear Apartheid,’Foreign Affairs, vol. 77, no. 5, September/October 1998has written, “No other country has debated so meticulously and, at times, sinuously over the chasm between its sovereign security needs and global disarmament instincts, between a moralistic approach and a realistic one, and between a covert nuclear policy and an overtone.” What our neighbours often deliberately ignore, is that India has at multiple times offered to negotiate a mutual no first use treaty with Pakistan that would be binding and verifiable. India has a very clean record of adherence to international norms. Unfortunately, a paradoxical approach has been followed by India’s principal opponents, who have violated numerous treaties with impunity, including the NPT and the MTCR. Nuclear weapons are now becoming a mere political weapon rather than weapons of ‘warfighting’. India’s nuclear doctrine is foundationally drafted based on the concept of minimum deterrence, which means that the policy and strategy would be driven by the minimalist principle. The concept of minimum deterrence is not completely a doctrine but is a nuclear force structure. The Indian doctrine can be interpreted to be framed on ‘assured retaliation’ and this is to be implemented by a minimalist nuclear force as an assured retaliation force structure is postulated on the dogma that no one will start a nuclear tussle if the adversaries are assertive of a nuclear retaliation.
In the book ‘Dragon on our Doorstep: Managing China through Military power’, authors Pravin Sawhney and Ghazala Wahab argued, “Let alone China, India cannot even win a war against Pakistan. And this has nothing to do with the possession of nuclear weapons- the roles of nuclear and conventional weapons are separate in the war planning of India, China and Pakistan. The reason India would be at a disadvantage in a war with Pakistan is that while Pakistan has built military power, India focussed on building the military force. In this difference lies the capability to win wars.” Nonetheless, there lies an undeniable connection between nation’s conventional military capabilities and its dominance over other nations. A nuclear-armed nation with low military capability as compared to its adversaries may find it absolutely necessary to espouse an in extremis first use strategy to impede a conventional military strategy that may threaten to undermine its territorial integrity. This in nutshell is the nuclear dilemma of Pakistan. This may be one of the reasons why Pakistan does not accept India’s offer of a bilateral no first use treaty as a nuclear confidence building and risk reduction measure. On the other hand, India’s existing defence machinery due to low investment is becoming outdated, as China is rapidly reindustrialising its armed forces, raising deployment units and improving the logistics infrastructure in Tibet with a subtle intransigence in resolving the outstanding territorial and boundary dispute with India.
Former National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon in his book Choices argued, “There is a potential grey area as to when India would use nuclear weapons first against NWS. Circumstances are conceivable in which India might find it useful to strike first, for instance, against an NWS that had declared it would certainly use its weapons, and if India were certain that adversary’s launch was imminent.” Many analysts have argued that India has gained nothing and has unnecessarily elected to bear the horrendous costs of a nuclear strike by choosing to adopt a purely retaliatory nuclear policy. India’s tempestuous relationship with its neighbours, changing paradigm of Indian Ocean diplomacy and its desire to be a global power is shaping the framework of its nuclear weapons programme and policy. In order to engage global nuclear powers in a productive positive dialogue, there has to be a special diplomatic effort from the Ministry of External Affairs to strengthen its position as a responsible partner in the nuclear stability dialogue.The domain of Nuclear security has always been the prerogative of the Prime Minister Office, and it is the right time for India to revisit the existing framework and articulate and advocate for an international consensus to draft a new policy taking into account the geopolitical changes in South Asia.
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