Revisiting the BrahMos Missile Incident: A Critical Examination of India’s Nuclear Responsibility

The firing of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile into Pakistani territory in March 2022 was a disrupting episode that started concerns in the entire region.

The firing of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile into Pakistani territory in March 2022 was a disrupting episode that started concerns in the entire region about the nuclear stability and strategic intentions of India. The Indian Air Force (IAF), on the other hand, has asserted that the accident occurred due to technical faults. However, a close examination of the inconsistencies in the official version, reveals that the real story is filled with many unanswered questions. In this article, a thorough examination of the BrahMos missile episode will be undertaken, illuminating the underlying complexities and ramifications of events toward regional and global security.

IAF Explanation of Accidental Launch of Missile:

On March 9, 2022, the BrahMos missile was launched from a site near Ambala that landed approximately 124 kilometres away in Mian Channu, Punjab, on Pakistan Soil. Incidentally, the nuclear-capable ground assault missile did not carry a warhead. The IAF claimed that the unintentional fire happened because the BrahMos missile’s combat connections remained attached to its junction box.

This claim does not stand its ground. Such a simplified argument ignores the rigorous safety regulations and procedures that govern the handling and transit of nuclear-capable weapon systems. Furthermore, the news that the missile was still operational throughout transit for inspection raises major concerns about command supervision and adherence to conventional operating protocols.

The IAF has already taken disciplinary actions against their mid-ranking officers including the commanding officer, who have been tried for the incident. However, it is essential to focus on the problems that the institution has within itself that triggered such a fatal security lapse. Scapegoating subordinate officers without addressing the structural issues merely obscures the actual scope of culpability within the military hierarchy.

Impact on India-Pakistan Relations:

The BrahMos missile event goes far beyond just the technical side of things, posing serious geopolitical ramifications, particularly for nuclear neighbours namely India and Pakistan. The direct attack on the territory of Pakistan, as some analysts predict, implies doubts about Indian strategic military goals and their intentions for regional peace. The event has also heightened tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals, underscoring the volatility of peace and stability in the region.

International Response:

The importance of the international community taking into account the finer details of the BrahMos missile incident raises apprehensions about nuclear safety and security in South Asia that cannot be ignored. The opaqueness and lack of accountability in India’s dealing with the crises should at least the attention of global observers. However, an exclusionary policy of the West towards India, despite its nuclear transgressions and hegemonic foreign policy orientation reveals the hypocrisy prevailing in international nuclear politics. The United Nations and other global security institutions should be firm in their demand for transparency and compliance with the nuclear norms from all the nuclear-armed states.

Broader Implications:

The accidental launch of the Brahmos missile accordingly stands as a flag for the global community indicating the supreme nuclear risks of any missile weapon system. It has stressed the necessity of strong safety systems and full-fledged risk management strategies, aimed at preventing such horrendous episodes in the times to come. In addition, it indicates a serious fundamental challenge to India’s adherence to international nuclear norms and obligations, especially concerning confidence-building measures, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

The Need for a Comprehensive Review of India’s Nuclear Posture:

The BrahMos missile instance highlights the need for examination of India’s nuclear warrant and strategic policy. India’s status as one of the nuclear-armed countries adds a heavy weight of responsibility to adhere to the strict rules of non-proliferation and nuclear safety and security among all nations. Similarly, any deficiency of this nature in such a strategic region exposes surrounding nations to an increased risk of instability and also undermines the global initiatives of nuclear disarmament and peace. This thought questioned many for a comprehensive review of India’s missile technology for the safety of its nuclear assets. 

Role of International Nuclear Regulatory Bodies:

In context with the BrahMos accident, international nuclear regulatory bodies like the IAEA should rather perform a detailed audit of the security and safety practices, under the Indian atomic energy program. To achieve its goal of promoting nuclear peace and to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, this international organization ought to take a close interest in members’ use of nuclear technologies. Any slightest deviation from pre-set safety norms or failure to adhere to nuclear protocol should be immediately investigated and compensated for to prevent catastrophe.

The Importance of Diplomatic Engagement and Confidence-Building Measures:

The BrahMos episode reminded the world of the importance of peacekeeping and confidence-building measures (CBMs) between India and Pakistan. CBMs, such as signing nuclear risk reduction agreements and other control measures, can help to avert nuclear escalation and provide a communication channel for crisis management. In this channel, mutual understanding between parties should be possible. Additionally, it is dialogues and diplomatic approaches, which are still the most powerful means of resolving bilateral disagreements and facilitating sustainable peace and stability in the region.


The BrahMos missile event serves as a stark reminder of the catastrophic consequences of nuclear negligence, as well as the critical importance of effective nuclear risk management. The way India, in a manner that defies international nuclear norms and principles, while every other nuclear state is bound to follow. While Pakistan behaved with utter restraint and met in response, any miss calculations could have resulted in a destructional outcome for humanity.  Limited of being open and apologetic for such a deadly failure, India on the contrary, has relucted. The global community should hold India accountable for any failure in the area of nuclear application safety and security as well as create strong international structures for nuclear governance. Only through concerted efforts and unshakable dedication to nuclear responsibility can we eliminate the perils of nuclear conflict and humanity’s safety.

Waleed Sami
Waleed Sami
Waleed Sami is a postgraduate student of Strategic Studies from the Centre for International Peace and Stability (CIPS), a prestigious school of the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Islamabad. Waleed has completed his bachelor's from the National Defence University Islamabad (NDU) in International Relations. Waleed is also a research intern at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) and served as a junior researcher at the South Asia Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI) and a research intern at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS).