On October 20 last the US President, Donald J. Trump, stated that North America would withdraw from the INF Treaty on nuclear missile weapons, which means that Europe will be again the main base for the new intermediate and long-range weapon systems.
Obviously the European ruling class, both at national and EU levels, has not yet said a single word about this new configuration of the threats and defences on our territory.
President Trump referred specifically to the 1987 INF Treaty or, more precisely, to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 – a treaty that, in particular, banned the ground-launched nuclear missiles having a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometres.
The INF Treaty led to the complete elimination of almost 2,700 medium and short-range missiles, including 850 US ones and over 1,800 Soviet ones. As many may recall, it put an end to the tension between the United States and the Soviet Union just at the time when the latter deployed the new SS-20 missiles in Eastern Europe and, as a response, the former deployed its Cruise and Pershing missiles in the European NATO, in a phase characterized by a whirlwind of “pacifist” demonstrations.
The “Euromissile battle”, as it was defined in the extraordinary book La Bataille des Euromissiles by Michel Tatu, was the real beginning of the end of Cold War.
Nevertheless, it was a leader of the Milanese Communist Party, who was like one of the family in the Soviet Union, who personally informed the German Social Democrat Chancellor, Helmut Schmidt, that the Soviet SS-20 missiles had an eminently offensive function.
If there had been only the Soviet SS-20 missiles aimed at European targets, not necessarily only military ones, the remote conditioning of our defence and economic policy would have been almost complete.
Hence the “Euromissile battle” was the real and last battle for the freedom of Europe which, before the Soviet missiles, had undergone almost twenty years of ideological conditioning, which had begun in 1968 and had been turned into a real low-intensity civil war, in Italy in particular.
In that case the pro-Soviet propaganda or, in principle, the “pacifist” propaganda had the last glimpse of life and, above all, huge support by Soviet Union and its various parallel propaganda organizations.
Those were the last days in which the old techniques of political propaganda still operated – between “the partisans of peace” and the Catholics of “dissent” – invented by the German Communist, Willi Muenzenberg, the “Stalin’s propaganda agent” and the organizer of many Communist communication battles.
However, let us revert to President Trump and the INF Treaty.
In fact, the US President states that Russia has actually infringed the INF Treaty rules, as it has developed a new type of medium-range missile.
However, as we will see at a later stage, faults are equally divided between the two contenders.
He refers to the 9M729 missile, in particular, also known asSSC-X-8.
It is a missile having a medium-long range – 3,000 nautical miles – which is supposed to be the land version of the SS-N-30 missile.
The missile is equipped with a starting solid propellant, which fires after the launch. The control system and guidance of the cruise missile is inertial control system (autopilot) with Doppler sensors drift angle correction according to the Russian GLONASS and Western GPS satellite navigation systems.
If launched from the Siberian coast, this Russian missile could easily reach the Californian coast up to Los Angeles.
If launched from Moscow, however, it could cover the whole Western European area.
It is likely, however, that in a new treaty Russia wants to negotiate the elimination of the NATO ground-launched missiles in exchange for the abolition of its ones, thus excluding – from the negotiations for the reduction of strategic weapons – the newly developed long-range missiles and the hypersonic ones, of which we will speak later on.
The next race for new weapons will be focused there.
Over the last few days, however, both Trump and Putin have declared to be ready for dialogue, also with a future informal meeting in Paris, as had been recently decided during the visit paid by President Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, to Moscow where he met President Putin.
On March 1, 2018, however, President Putin had stated Russia had already developed and making operational a new complete line of medium-long range strategic missiles, capable – above all – of quickly getting the North American and NATO missile defences out of play.
Putin mainly made reference to missiles, but also to underwater drones and other types of advanced weapons, all arms systems that the Russian Federation has developed since the US withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM)) signed with the USSR in 1972.
The American withdrawal, however, dates back to December 2001.
In his demonstration, Vladimir Putin showed two new weapon systems, the RS-28 Sarmat (NATO reporting code: SS-X-30 Satan 2), which has an average range of 11,000 kilometres, and another innovative missile about which we will talk later on.
It should be recalled that the Satan 2 missile was designed in response to the deployment of the US GMD anti-ballistic missile systems and the subsequent launch of the US Defence program called Prompt Global Strike in 2009.
At least for the time being, the GMD is deployed in military bases in the States of Alaska and California and comprises 44 kinetic interceptors(40 in Alaska and 4 on the Western coast in the Los Angeles area) for intercepting incoming warheads in space, during the midcourse phase of ballistic trajectory flight. It spans 15 time zones with sensors on land, at sea and in orbit.
The GMD positions are supposed to reach 100 by the end of 2020.
The concept of US missile defence, however, is based on the maximum possible redundancy of signals and counteractions, at different altitudes, so as to permit a significant response, even after a severe nuclear missile attack.
The second strike is the basic concept of every ABM defence, both in the USA and in the rest of the world.
The radars for the interceptor networks are mainly located in Pearl Harbor, in relation to the inevitable routes of the Chinese ICBMs, but with the radars for early signaling also deployed in Alaska, Great Britain, Greenland, Qatar, Japan and Taiwan – while the data collected by both fixed networks and aircraft is processed in the Schriever airbase located in El Paso County, Colorado.
It should be noted that the current US system is mainly designed to counter missile attacks by States such as North Korea and Iran, while it is not specifically calibrated to respond to “well-established” strategic forces, such as Russia or China.
In fact, there is no missile shield capable of successfully countering a stratified threat that is put in place by a real nuclear State.
Incidentally, the yearly cost of the Missile Defense Agency for 2018 amounts to 7.9 billion dollars.
Conversely the Prompt Global Strike program is a system that can deliver a precision-guided conventional weapon airstrike anywhere in the world within one hour since the President’s order or since the detection of the threat. It is expected to become operational this year.
It has been calculated that this project can make the United States spare at least 30% of its nuclear weapons.
An additional implementation of the strategic redundancy criterion.
Russia, however, responded to this US project with one of the missiles mentioned by Vladimir Putin together with the Satan-2 missile, namely the S-500 Prometey, also known as the 55R6M Triumfator M.
The S-500 is designed to destroy both new generation long-range missiles and hypersonic cruise missiles and has a minimum range of 600 kilometres up to 3,500.
Hence it falls within the scope of the old INF Treaty.
It has a speed of 5 kilometres per second and it is supposed to be operational by the end of 2020.
It is by no mere coincidence that Putin delivered his speech shortly after the release of the Pentagon’s New Missile Doctrine, namely the Nuclear Posture Review, in which an attempt is made to make the new generation anti-missile defence policy line more comprehensive and up-to-date vis-à-vis Russia, China and, as usual, North Korea and Iran.
The logic underlying this Pentagon’s official document is simple: if the USA increases its nuclear war potential, the Russian Federation will automatically be deterred from planning a missile attack against the US territory.
Moreover, Putin also stated that new laser weapons are under construction and that a new hypersonic missile is also ready, namely the Kh-47M2 Khinzal (“Dagger”), an air-launched ballistic missile specific for the MiG31BM interceptors.
Russia has also the brand new RS-26 Avangard, a hypersonic missile equipped with Multiple Independent Targetable Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs).
In short, the two countries that signed the IFN Treaty have resumed the nuclear and ABM arms race.
It was a bad surprise for the United States to discover a technologically advanced and a doctrinally evolved Russia both in the Crimea operation and, particularly, in the actions to support Bashar al-Assad’ Syrian Arab Army.
Hence the periphery is hit with remote control weapons to signal to the centre – be it Russia or the USA – the need to quickly give up that area, that technology, that specific economic, energy and technological presence.
This is the deep logic underlying conventional or nuclear missile systems.
Obviously this applies to both Russia and North America.
Furthermore, considering the Russian technological evolution, the USA plans to resume the arms race not only to weaken the growing Russian economy, but also to combine China’s and Russia’s ICBM threat with the other asymmetric and unpredictable missile threats of Iran and North Korea.
This means that the United States still wants the complete regionalization of the Russian Federation and its encirclement between the NATO-led Eastern Europe and the US-led Central Asia, to control both China’s and Russia’s borders.
The fewer conventional forces are, the greater the remote threats of advanced weapon systems must be – and this is also a common logic for both major players.
Sealing China into its own borders, which have always been insecure, means permanently stopping the Belt and Road Initiative and halting its economic, technological and financial development.
Hence nuclear missiles are the ideal power multiplier for a global attack and defence strategy.
What about China? What policy line does it have for its nuclear ABMs? Meanwhile, China always publicly reaffirms its three classic principles: no first use of the nuclear weapon; no use of the nuclear weapon against a non-nuclear country; maintenance of an arsenal only capable of minimum deterrence, just to ensure the possibility of a second effective nuclear response to an attack.
At statistical level, China is currently supposed to have approximately 280 nuclear warheads, to be used on 120-130 ground-launched ballistic missiles – 48 to be used on ships or submarines and the rest with air carriers.
Nevertheless, once again in response to the ABM and nuclear missile evolution of the United States in recent years, China has added many multiple warheads to its intercontinental ballistic missiles, especially the ground-based ones.
In this case, the “MIRVization” – i.e. the allocation of multiple weapons for each carrier – would also imply a new ability to penetrate the US missile lines, not only for defence purposes.
However, to what extent are missile defences really effective and to what extent is a conventional or nuclear ballistic attack system precise?
With specific reference to the United States, about half of the 18 tests carried out so far for intercepting an enemy missile have failed.
On the best possible assumption, the operational interception made by the ABM systems works only in 50% of cases.
The aforementioned GMD, which already costs 40 billion US dollars, has not yet been tested in sufficiently realistic conditions.
For example, if we consider an attack with five missiles and four interceptors for each target, considering that each interceptor works exactly in 50% of cases, the probability that a missile penetrates the defence network is 28%. Too much.
Every nuclear or conventional attack is such as to make the attacker win.
However, what would happen if there were – as it might be very likely – a concerted attack by various different missile systems, each with a different system of targets and defensive covers?
Hence the danger of a saturation of the US defence systems is extremely high.
They would be grappling with different types of attack, different technologies and different logics for selecting targets.
Every enemy’s successful nuclear attack can be the one determining the final victory. With this particular strategy, the attacker has almost always the victory in his bag.
However, reverting to the end of the INF Treaty, now decided by the United States, it should be noted that, according to the US State Department, as early as 2014 Russia has repeatedly infringed the Treaty.
In December 2017, the US intelligence services identified the Russian short-range 9M729 missile which, however, precisely follows the INF rules.
Nevertheless, the Unites States maintains it violates the Treaty anyway.
It is the United States, however, that has clearly infringed the INF Treaty with its Mark 41 Vertical Launch System and with the manufacturing of drones which are, in effect, cruise missiles in disguise.
Moreover, in recent years China, in particular, has developed many new-design missiles that operate precisely within the range explicitly prohibited by the INF Treaty, namely between 500 and 5,000 kilometres.
It should be recalled that China has never signed the INF Treaty.
Although being often urged to join the INF Treaty, China has always refused to sign it.
Hence, while Russia is modernizing its conventional and nuclear missiles, this implies a clear doctrinal, strategic and technological cooperation with China.
However, if there were a simultaneous attack from China and the Russian Federation, it would be unlikely that the North American ABM networks could protect the whole US territory.
Not to mention Europe, which currently deals only with currencies, without having clear in mind – even in this case -what the real issue at stake is.
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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