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"Though we have acheived progress, our work is not over. That is why I support the mission of the Arms Control Association. It is, quite simply, the most effective and important organization working in the field today." 

– Larry Weiler
Former U.S.-Russian arms control negotiator
August 7, 2018
India

Clarifying India's Nascent Nuclear Doctrine

An Interview With Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh

On August 17, 1999, India's National Security Advisory Board released its draft report on Indian nuclear doctrine. Though the report maintained that India would pursue a "minimum nuclear deterrent," many observers were disturbed by the doctrine's ambitious tone, especially its call for a "triad of aircraft, mobile land-based missiles and sea-based assets," a force structure suggesting an arsenal of several hundred nuclear weapons. (For news coverage and full text of the draft report, see ACT, July/August 1999.)

In an interview with The Hindu newspaper published November 29, 1999, Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh discussed India's position on arms control issues and addressed the international concerns about its nuclear doctrine. Most notably, Singh downplayed the significance of the draft report, emphasizing that it is not an official policy document and that talk of an Indian nuclear triad is "premature." While Arms Control Today does not usually print previously published work, the editors felt that this interview was of sufficient interest to warrant an exception.

 


The Hindu: You have been engaged in extended talks with the United States since the nuclear tests last year. How would you assess the results so far?

Minister Jaswant Singh: First, by restating the objectives from our side. They are two-fold: in the first place, to reconcile the stated U.S. non-proliferation concerns with India's national security objectives; secondly, and in a broader context, to develop greater mutual understanding so that both countries are enabled to work together in tapping the real potential of a qualitatively new relationship, essential in this post-Cold War environment.

The results of my discussions with [Deputy Secretary of State] Strobe Talbott are encouraging. There is recognition that India shall maintain a minimum nuclear deterrent as determined by us. There is now no longer any talk of a "roll-back." The U.S. also accepts that India's security concerns are not geographically limited. Foreign policy tasks and challenges are a continuing process; therefore, we need to consolidate these understandings across all sections that make up the U.S. foreign policy establishment.

The Hindu: Do you have a time frame for concluding this dialogue?

Singh: In the management of foreign policy, deadlines are both impractical and unrealistic. But if we manage through the objectives, then the first part is the restoration of our relationship to the pre-May 1998 position. As for the next, I would consider it attained when both India and the U.S. engage in regular dialogue on a range of issues covering bilateral, regional and global political and economic issues.

The Hindu: Can you define these issues?

Singh: Of course, I cannot draw up a total list. But, self-evidently, these would range from discussing cooperation in the field of energy, science and technology, environment, trade, taxation and economic development to global concerns such as terrorism, narcotics, non-proliferation, disarmament, reform of multilateral institutions, expansion of the UN Security Council and regional developments in Asia-Pacific, et cetera. Obviously, a multifaceted dialogue of this nature can simply not imply an agreement on all. It is the density and depth of engagement that is the criteria.

The Hindu: A principal item on the agenda is the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and there seems to be considerable confusion about India's stand on this issue. Where exactly are we?

Singh: Our stand on the CTBT has been clear. In 1996, we decided that we could not accept the CTBT because it was not consistent with India's national security interest. Over the decades, successive governments took necessary steps to safeguard India's nuclear option. In 1996, it was clear to all that subscription to the CTBT at that time would have limited India's nuclear potential at an unacceptably low level. After conducting the nuclear tests of May 1998, to validate and update our technology, we have ensured the credibility of our nuclear deterrent into the foreseeable future; our scientists are now confident of conducting sub-critical tests, as also other non-explosive R&D [research and development] activity necessary for the purpose. That is why we declared a voluntary moratorium. This, in essence, meets the basic obligations of the CTBT. We also announced a willingness to convert this undertaking into a de jure obligation. Clearly, this could not be done in a political vacuum. A positive environment had to be created. In reaction, a number of countries decided to impose restrictive economic measures on India. We have conveyed our disappointment at these actions. That, however, does not mean that we do not value our bilateral relationships with these countries. Our endeavor has been to generate a better appreciation of India's security concerns. Obviously, this is possible only through a sustained, bilateral dialogue process. An understanding in this regard will restore our relationship to the pre-May 1998 position. I am also optimistic that this process of restoration will result in an acceptance of a secure, self-confident India, thus imparting a new momentum to these ties.

At the same time, there is no denying that the manner in which the CTBT was negotiated, particularly during the last stages, left a great deal to be desired. This led to resentment against the proposed treaty. Many in India see it as part of a discriminatory, nuclear non-proliferation regime.

The government's commitment to nuclear non-proliferation remains unchanged. The priority of our meeting the country's national security concerns having been addressed, the government believes that we now need to convey reassurance to the international community and, in this regard, desires to develop a national consensus. The need for a consensus in any democratic society is self-evident. I have explained this in the past to the U.S. administration, and they better understand this approach after their own difficulties on this issue in their Senate.

The Hindu: There appears to be lack of clarity about signing and ratification. Can you elaborate?

Singh: Three separate decisions are required of the government as part of adherence to any international treaty: signature, ratification and deposition of the instrument of ratification. These decisions are taken by the cabinet. Each of them is a separate decision. To recall a recent example, in January 1993, the cabinet decided that India will become a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention [CWC]; the decision to ratify was taken in October 1995, followed by another decision to deposit the instrument of ratification in September 1996.

The Hindu: In your view, how far should India go in terms of its adherence to the CTBT at this stage, particularly in light of the uncertainty about the treaty's future created by the U.S. Senate vote?

Singh: As I have already clarified, the process of adherence to an international treaty is a step-by-step process. While India's decisions will be made by the Indian government, there is no denying that this negative vote by the U.S. Senate does have a bearing on the future of this treaty. I would, therefore, consider it natural for India to also disaggregate its decision.

The Hindu: Is India ready to join in a moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapon purposes?

Singh: We have, after the tests last year, announced our readiness to engage in multilateral negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament [CD] in Geneva for a non-discriminatory and verifiable treaty to ban future production of fissile materials for nuclear weapon purposes. This decision was taken after due consideration, which included an assessment of time frames for negotiations and entry into force of an FMCT [fissile material cutoff treaty]. At this stage, India cannot accept a voluntary moratorium on production of fissile materials. Let me add that FMCT negotiations are a complex exercise. It will be important, therefore, as we go along to constantly monitor the pace, direction and content of these negotiations.

The Hindu: Export controls is another element of dialogue with the United States. What are the prospects of an understanding in this area?

Singh: India has remained committed to non-proliferation and maintains a highly effective system of export controls on sensitive and dual-use technologies and equipment. We have conveyed our willingness to strengthen this further, where necessary. In this regard, an inter-ministerial expert group has been established. I must add that we do remain greatly concerned about the fact that certain civilian programs in high-technology areas, such as space, remain targeted. Our participation in ad hoc export control regimes, such as Nuclear Suppliers Group and MTCR [Missile Technology Control Regime] will be on the basis of equality. The U.S. does appreciate that India has a system of laws and an effective institutional mechanism to implement non-proliferation-related export controls, but we need to make further progress.

The Hindu: There is a perception in the international community that the document prepared by the National Security Advisory Board [NSAB] for the National Security Council is India's official nuclear doctrine. What is the status of this document?

Singh: Let me correct this perception. The National Security Advisory Board is a group of non-official strategic experts and analysts. It was tasked by the National Security Council to prepare a number of papers, including one on a possible "Indian Nuclear Doctrine." This it prepared and submitted to the national security adviser, also releasing it publicly for a larger debate. That debate is now under way. It is thus not a policy document of the government of India.

The Hindu: Would you like to elaborate on what then is the essence and thinking on India's doctrine?

Singh: The key elements of India's nuclear policy were spelt out by the prime minister in parliament last December. To recapitulate briefly:

(a) India shall maintain a minimum nuclear deterrent and shall undertake necessary measures to ensure its credibility.

(b) India has declared a moratorium on undertaking any further underground nuclear test explosions, but R&D activity, including computer simulation and sub-critical tests, will be conducted as necessary.

(c) Development work on an extended-range Agni missile is underway and a successful flight test was carried out earlier this year. Additional flight testing will be undertaken in a manner that is non-provocative, transparent and consistent with established international norms and practices.

(d) India has declared a no-first-use doctrine. This has implicit in it the principle that India shall not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states.

(e) In order that our minimum deterrent be credible, we shall adopt and maintain a deployment posture that ensures survivability of assets. Such a posture, obviously, provides for greater safety and security.

(f) India will not engage in any arms race. We shall not, therefore, pursue an open-ended program.

(g) A civilian command and control system, with necessary safeguards, shall cater for all possible contingencies.

(h) India's commitment to global nuclear disarmament remains undiluted. We will continue to work with other like-minded countries and take initiatives for moving towards a nuclear- weapon-free world. We will also seek to negotiate CBMs [confidence-building measures], both in the conventional and nuclear fields, with the aim of reducing lack of trust in the region.

The Hindu: Many commentators find these elements inconsistent and believe that India has embarked on a program that will produce a nuclear arsenal larger than that of the U.K. or France. Do you have any comments?

Singh: I am aware of such apprehensions. These are born of the Cold War experiences, ideology, indeed, even the clichéd phrases of those sterile years. The U.S., Russia, the U.K., France and China developed their nuclear weapons as weapons for war. Most nuclear-weapon powers follow doctrines of first use, and all of them envisage tactical or sub-strategic roles for their nuclear weapons. The Indian thinking is different, principally because we have discarded the Cold War reference frame of nuclear warfighting. In our view, the principal role of nuclear weapons is to deter their use by an adversary. For this, India needs only that strategic minimum which is credible. With the policy of "retaliation only," survivability becomes critical to ensure credibility. This "minimum," however, cannot be a fixed physical quantification; it is a dynamic concept but firmly rooted in the strategic environment, technological imperatives and national security needs, and the actual size, components, deployment and employment of nuclear forces will be decided taking into account all these factors.

No other nuclear-weapon state has conceptualized its capabilities in such terms. India can, and has done so because it does not intend to engage in an arms race. Therefore, the question of an arsenal larger than that of country X or Y becomes a non-question. For India, the question is only one of adequacy that is credible and thus defines our "minimum."

The Hindu: How would you address concerns about India seeking a "triad?"

Singh: Let me address the issue of "triad," not because it is part of the NSAB paper, but because there may be genuine misperceptions. It is a known fact that today India has nuclear-capable aircraft and mobile land-based nuclear-capable missiles. We have an R&D program for a naval version of Prithvi that has been a part of the IGMDP [Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme] launched in 1983. It is also a fact that many analysts, particularly in Western countries, consider nuclear missiles on submarines to be the most survivable nuclear asset in the scenarios that they have thought of-first strike, second strike, war and so on. Our approach is different. It is, therefore, premature to talk of an Indian "triad." R&D programs will certainly continue, aimed at enhancing survivability and thus, credibility, but decisions on production, deployment and employment will be taken on the basis of factors that I have outlined earlier. In short, just as parity is not essential for deterrence, neither is a triad a prerequisite for credibility.

Let me suggest that you look at the Indian nuclear deterrent as a "triad" based on a different set of three dimensions-a deterrent that is minimum but credible because it is survivable and backed by effective civilian command and control to ensure retaliation.

The Hindu: You appear to be emphasizing survivability, but will this not affect retaliation?

Singh: No. Retaliation does not have to be instantaneous; it has to be effective and assured. I emphasize this because effective and assured retaliation enhance the credibility of deterrence. Mobility and dispersal improve survivability. Operating procedures will ensure the transition from peacetime deployment modes to a higher state of readiness when required. Our nuclear assets are limited and consistent with no-first-use; we have ensured that these procedures do not tempt an adversary to pre-emption but strengthen deterrence by underlining the political resolve for effective retaliation.

The Hindu: Would it be correct to deduce that India will follow different peacetime and wartime deployment/postures?

Singh: This would be a correct assessment. You know that we would like to convey a sense of assurance in our region [and] beyond so that our deployment posture is not perceived as destabilizing. We have rejected notions of "launch on warning postures" that lead to maintaining hair-trigger alerts, thus increasing the risks of an unauthorized launch. In fact, we have taken an initiative in the UN General Assembly last year, calling on all nuclear-weapon states to review such postures, and move to de-alert, thus reducing global nuclear danger.

The Hindu: How does this posture relate to tactical nuclear weapons?

Singh: Regarding tactical nuclear weapons, let me remind you that we do not see nuclear weapons as weapons of warfighting. In fact, India sees them only as strategic weapons, whose role is to deter their use by an adversary. Civilian command and control over decisions relating to deployment and alert levels are logical.

The Hindu: Is there any change in India's position on elimination of nuclear weapons or, let me say, in India's approach toward this objective?

Singh: I would like to emphasize that there is no dilution of India's commitment to the objective of achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world. We continue to call for negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Convention that would prohibit the production, development, deployment and use of all nuclear weapons and also provide for elimination of present stockpiles under international verification. India is the only nuclear-weapon state to do so. At the same time, we also understand that nuclear disarmament cannot be achieved overnight; it will be a step-by-step process. We approach this process in a practical sense from two directions. On one side, we need to strengthen the norm against nuclear weapons by multilaterally negotiated non-use and no-first-use agreements. From a technical standpoint, we need to move away from the present hair-trigger postures to a progressively de-alerted state that will reduce the risks of accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons. It will also act as a global CBM. In both these areas, India continues to take initiatives and our resolutions in the UN General Assembly have been adopted with widespread support.

The Risks of Further Nuclear Testing in South Asia

There is a puzzle about India's and Pakistan's policies on nuclear explosive testing. If the Indian and Pakistani governments are determined to establish convincing nuclear deterrents, and if India wishes to develop the triad of nuclear forces proposed in the recently published draft nuclear doctrine, why do they appear content to limit themselves to five or six tests apiece from which rather little of military value may have been gained? Why were the May 1998 tests followed by expressions on both sides of willingness to join the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and by the Indian and Pakistani governments' joint commitment to moratoria on testing in the Lahore Declaration of February 1999?<1> Why was their reaction to the U.S. Senate's rejection of the CTBT so muted

The historical experiences of other states that have constructed nuclear deterrents, together with India's and Pakistan's commitment to deploying nuclear weapons, suggest that the international community should be wary of placing its trust in the existing moratoria and should be alive to the pressures that may build in India and Pakistan for a return to testing. Furthermore, the U.S. Senate's recent rejection of the test ban could provide a convenient rationale for India and Pakistan to resume testing.

However, the Senate's action, when combined with the recent elections in India and the military coup in Pakistan, can also be seen as having eased the pressures to resume testing. Paradoxically, this unexpected confluence of events may have actually made the return to testing in Pakistan and India less likely than it was before—at least in the short term. India's and Pakistan's current interests may encourage them to retreat from their aggressive postures. But this situation is, most likely, only temporary. These events have brought an opportunity to bind India and Pakistan more tightly to the no-testing norm, and that opportunity needs to be seized, above all by the Indian and Pakistani governments, and seized soon.

Why Limit Testing?

During the Cold War, the importance of assessing new warhead designs through explosive testing was constantly emphasized by the scientists and engineers responsible for the U.S., British, French and Soviet weapons programs. Although performing tests was clearly in their professional self-interest, the scientists' claim was based on the reasonable contention that the performance of warhead designs could not be predicted with sufficient confidence if they were not test exploded. This applied especially to thermonuclear designs and to warheads that were being miniaturized for delivery by missiles. Without substantial numbers of tests, it was argued, armed forces would not trust the weapons. Equally important, an adversary might be prepared to gamble on a high rate of failure in a nuclear war.

Yet here we have two states embarking on ambitious programs of nuclear deterrence with the evidence gained from just five or six explosive tests, some or all of which may have been less successful than hoped. Furthermore, the Indian devices are claimed to have included thermonuclear and boosted fission designs, indicating that the Indians, if not the Pakistanis, have extensive technological ambitions.<2> Concerns about those ambitions have been reinforced by the August publication of the National Security Advisory Board's Draft Report on Indian Nuclear Doctrine (hereinafter the Draft Report). It recommends that India's nuclear forces should be based on a "triad of aircraft, mobile land-based and sea-based assets." The report's appearance has been accompanied by statements elaborating on plans to deploy long-range missiles and build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.

Soon after the tests, the Indian and Pakistani governments announced their moratoria on further testing. Why should India and Pakistan, unlike other states that have developed military strategies founded on nuclear deterrence (Israel being the one exception), appear prepared to forego the knowledge that would be gained from conducting further series of explosive tests? There are four possible explanations:

Acquisition of knowledge from abroad

The first explanation is that India and Pakistan might have already obtained tested designs or pertinent test data from other sources. This seems unlikely in India's case, but there have been various allegations that China transferred design information to Pakistan and that a Pakistani weapon may even have been tested in China. Furthermore, the warhead designs may have been engineered to be mounted on missiles supplied to Pakistan by China.

This would not be the first instance of such transfers. China received technical assistance from the Soviet Union in the 1950s, as did Israel from France, and weapon design information has been routinely exchanged by the United Kingdom and the United States since their Mutual Defense Agreement was concluded in 1958. However, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) bars transfers of weapon-related technology to states other than the nuclear-weapon states-parties (NWS) to the treaty.<3> The consequence is that no NWS, including China since its accession to the NPT in 1992, is today legally entitled to assist India or Pakistan with its weapons program. If either country received such assistance in the past, it cannot rely upon it in the future.

Technological expertise could also have been gained through theft or espionage. Besides Pakistan's theft of centrifuge designs from Urenco in Holland in the 1970s, there is no evidence that this has occurred. The amount that states can learn from the open literature should not, however, be underestimated. Indian research laboratories have devoted substantial resources to the systematic scanning and assimilation of knowledge and information contained in U.S. journals and public documents. Although many details would still be missing from these sources, the need for weapon designers to reinvent the wheel has been significantly reduced by the appearance of so much information in the public domain.

Reliance on non-explosive testing

A second possible explanation for India and Pakistan's self-imposed limitation on testing is that they have developed or gained access to other techniques for assessing the performance of nuclear warhead designs. It became apparent during the CTBT negotiations that a wide range of non-explosive techniques, from sub-critical testing to computer simulation, have been developed over many years by weapon laboratories in the NWS. Even larger investments in these techniques are currently being made, especially in the United States under the auspices of its Stockpile Stewardship Program.<4> The Indian government has been prominent in claiming that these techniques could together provide an adequate substitute for explosive testing, causing the test ban to be a blunt instrument in preventing the NWS from developing new designs.

Although the investments in non-explosive techniques give justifiable grounds for concern, their developmental utility can be overstated, especially for countries like India and Pakistan, which may lack the human and financial resources necessary to achieve the required sophistication of technology. Predictions based on the use of such techniques may, in any case, be reliable only if hardware and software have already been calibrated with information derived from explosions. The United States can found its "virtual testing" capability upon data acquired from over 1,000 nuclear explosions. Indian and Pakistani weapons laboratories have probably gone to considerable lengths to acquire non-explosive techniques, but it is questionable whether they or their military clients would wish to place full confidence in them even if they had been fully mastered.<5>

Nuclear weapons as political and symbolic instruments

The third possibility is that prior to the events of 1998 and 1999 India and Pakistan did not regard nuclear weapons as war-fighting assets in the same manner as the NWS came to view them during the Cold War. Especially in the formative period of the 1950s and in the 1960s, when tactical weapons were being developed for use on a European battlefield, military planners in the East and the West demanded information on the precise effects of nuclear explosions. For Indian and Pakistani policymakers, the objective was probably confined until very recently to establishing the potential for a nuclear force whose only imagined targets were Islamabad, New Delhi and other population centers. Nuclear arms were regarded as instruments of political persuasion and, insofar as military strategists gave them any thought, as defensive instruments whose military role would remain secondary to conventional weaponry. It was therefore sufficient to indicate a capacity to detonate comparatively simple fission devices that would still be highly destructive if exploded over urban centers.

Perhaps most important, the political symbolism of nuclear weapons has thus far meant more to Indian politicians and the Indian public than their military utility. India has long been motivated by a desire to possess this ultimate symbol of national power and by an equal desire to counter the discrimination it considers to have been practiced against it by the NWS, armed with the NPT's legal restrictions as set forth in Article IX.3.<6> To the extent that power balancing has inspired India's actions, it has entailed redressing imbalances rooted in political psychology—above all the psychology of grievance—more than redressing imbalances in the customary power resources available to states. The term "nuclear apartheid" has come to express the deep resentment felt over what Indians see as an orchestrated denial of the status and respect due to a great nation.

From this perspective, the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) purpose in conducting the tests in 1998 was to allow India to step through the looking glass into another world where it could at last mingle on equal terms with the great powers. It also represented a "lashing out" against the NPT, the CTBT and all the perceived indignities meted out to India by the United States and other powers since the 1960s.

International constraints

The fourth possible explanation of India and Pakistan's limitation on testing is that they have felt obliged to exercise and advertise restraint because of the high costs of engaging in explosive testing to their relations with other states. The tests conducted in May 1998 already carried high risks. The taboo against explosive testing of any kind had become deeply rooted, and there was a powerful international interest in confining the number of nuclear powers and in upholding the newly founded CTBT and the norms it expresses. Testing was bound to evoke strong feelings among India's and Pakistan's friends in the non-aligned movement as much as among the NWS and their allies.

It was therefore imperative in May 1998 for India and Pakistan to present their tests as one-time unrepeatable events if the political and economic fallout was to be kept within acceptable bounds. To have embarked on an open-ended series of tests would have risked much greater damage to their economies and foreign relations. It is unlikely, for instance, that economic sanctions would have been as light or as temporary if the moratoria had not been declared. At home, the prospect of continued testing might also have opened up deeper divisions over the direction in which policy was moving.

Nuclear Policies Evolve

The Indian and Pakistani governments may not have believed after May 1998, and may still not believe, in the desirability of further explosive testing. The tests may have been considered successful enough to proclaim their nuclear status and justify moving ahead with a limited deployment of the tested designs. However, building a survivable nuclear deterrent is a complex learning process, and the knowledge and expertise that is required at one stage may not have been foreseen at an earlier stage. Furthermore, a wider set of actors, especially involving the armed forces, comes into play once the testing threshold is crossed.

Looking back at the histories of nuclear weapons programs in the NWS, it is tempting to conclude that the courses followed after their first nuclear tests were charted in advance. This would be an error. In Britain's case, for instance, there was little idea of the numbers and types of weapons that would be deployed, how they would be delivered to their targets, what those targets might be, how Britain's actions would affect and be affected by the actions of friends and foes, and whether and how the whole adventure could be afforded economically. Not until well into the 1960s were Britain's nuclear policies and strategies in any sense "settled."

The same applies to India and Pakistan after May 1998. Although both states seek to give a different impression, they still give the appearance of countries stumbling into futures that they do not know and may be unable to control. For India, it is a future that political elites believe can bring significant gains. For Pakistan, it is a future that is full of danger but that has come to be regarded as inescapable if honor is to be preserved and Pakistan is to avoid subjugation.

The commitments to active nuclear deterrence that followed the May 1998 tests required both countries to embark immediately on a set of "discoveries" of a practical and conceptual nature:

• the discipline, practice and theory of command and control;

• what it means to have nuclear "doctrines" and "strategies," and what their contents should be;

• the political and instrumental arts of managing deterrent relations; and

• how to recast foreign relations in the novel circumstances that now pertained.

In Pakistan, there is little public evidence that a coherent set of policies and practices has taken shape. Internally and externally, Pakistan's situation is so unstable that the rational foundations of effective deterrence are bound to be hard to establish. Nevertheless, the severity of the perceived threat from India appears to have driven a rapid assimilation of nuclear arms into Pakistan's military thought and praxis, including consideration by the armed forces of how nuclear weapons might be used to advantage on the battlefield. The traditional interpenetration of Pakistan's political and military institutions may have facilitated that process. Pakistan's nuclear policies have always had a harder military edge than India's.

In India's case, we have been given the first sight of a nuclear doctrine in the Draft Report published by the Indian government on August 17, 1999. Four things immediately strike the reader about this document. The first is that, if this document is in any sense representative, the course that India has embarked upon is now seen as undisputed and irreversible in New Delhi. There may be significant disagreements over detail and emphasis, but the shift toward active nuclear deterrence is already entrenched. The non-weaponized deterrence that India practiced before 1998 has been discarded. Those who still press India to renounce nuclear weapons and join the non-nuclear fold are, if truth be told, tilting at windmills.

The second noteworthy feature of the Draft Report is the ambition that it reveals among an influential community in India, albeit ambition that is cloaked in the language of moderation and restraint. The report speaks of "retaliation only," of "minimum deterrence" and of the necessity of "survivability." But as one reads the document, it becomes apparent that the imagined retaliation is pretty massive, that the minimum deterrent is pretty maximal, and that survivability implies development of a wide range of weapon systems and C3I capabilities. The document's espousal of a triad of forces has given everyone pause for thought:

India's nuclear forces will be effective, enduring, diverse, flexible, and responsive to the requirements in accordance with the concept of credible minimum deterrence. These forces will be based on a triad of aircraft, mobile land-based missiles and sea-based assets in keeping with the objectives outlined above. Survivability of the forces will be enhanced by a combination of multiple redundant systems, mobility, dispersion and deception.<7>

One of the Draft Report's authors subsequently commented that "India's nuclear force is likely to include not more than a few dozen weapons in the next five years," an example of hawkishness dressed up in the language of moderation.<8> If that is the immediate plan, what size of force, one is bound to ask, is intended within 10 or 15 or 20 years? An article in the Indian journal Frontline summed up the point nicely: "While formally reiterating the position that India should build a credible, minimum nuclear deterrent, the document in outlining the details of the proposed nuclear doctrine, prescribes in fact an open-ended, far-reaching program of nuclear weaponisation with maximal capabilities."<9>

Pakistan evidently shares this interpretation. On September 22, 1999 Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz told the UN General Assembly that "hopes of restraint have been shattered" by the announcement of India's doctrine, and warned that its pursuit would compel Pakistan to "enhance its nuclear and missile capabilities and operational readiness to preserve deterrence."

The third feature of the Draft Report is its air of unreality, even amateurism.<10> Surprisingly, it appears that no members of the armed forces were included in the group that drew up this nuclear doctrine, and that its authors may have lacked other access to military expertise. The current text gives little sense of how the strategic ambitions enunciated in it might be realized in practice: how the resources might be found, who would provide the materiel and infrastructure, how the weapons would be absorbed into military strategies and force structures, and what the opportunity costs might be. Although the unreality could prove temporary, it provides some grounds for optimism. If and when submitted to tough scrutiny, greater realism may be brought to bear upon the Draft Report's proposals. That could mean that there will be less urgency to develop new warhead designs than the report implies.

Set against this, the desire to learn more about existing designs and to validate the claims of India's nuclear scientists could increase once the military becomes more deeply involved. We also know from history how capabilities can balloon especially if, as reference to a triad implies, interforce rivalry is given its head. Careless and partisan assessments of early proposals can send countries down costly paths from which escape is difficult.<11> Indian politicians should read the Draft Report as a deliberate exercise in political entrapment as much as an attempt to flesh out a plausible nuclear doctrine.

In India's case, the ambitions of its scientists, the armed forces' increasing need to involve themselves in nuclear decision-making and their possible demand for more precise information about weapon performance, and the increased power of research and development (R&D) organizations and their success in expanding their budgets all point toward an increase in pressures to test. Although those pressures may be held in check for the time being, the issue of testing is unlikely to go away if not settled through an international treaty.

Finally, the Draft Report is noteworthy for its lack of attention to the arms control regime. In the section headed "Disarmament and Arms Control," there is advocacy of global disarmament and of international agreements on "no first use" and negative security assurances, but there is no statement on testing, let alone mention of the CTBT. Nor is there mention of the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT), which seeks to ban the production of fissile materials for explosive purposes, potentially bringing further restraint to South Asia.<12> Furthermore, the Draft Report's preceding section on research and development consists of the following two paragraphs alone:

India should step up efforts in research and development to keep up with technological advances in this field.

While India is committed to maintain the deployment of a deterrent which is both minimum and credible, it will not accept any restraints on building its R&D capability.

These words invite the interpretation that at minimum the option of testing is being kept open, and that at maximum India should build up its capabilities in preparation for further explosive testing. If these interpretations are incorrect, those drafting this document should have taken more care in their choice of words.

Recommendations

The consequences for international security of a resumption of testing in South Asia—or indeed of renewed uncertainty over India's and Pakistan's intentions in this regard—would be grievous. It would inflict further damage on the CTBT and its prospects. It would send ripples into other parts of Asia and into the Middle East, encouraging other states to initiate or accelerate programs to acquire weapons of mass destruction. And it would strengthen the hands of those in China who may already be advocating a return to testing in response to India's nuclear expansionism and to U.S. plans to invest in missile defense systems.

The long-term consequences to the non-proliferation regime of a return to testing would be especially severe if it brought no concerted international response. The immediate international reaction today could well be weaker than in May 1998, when it was coordinated and energized by the U.S. government. The United States lost much of its authority in these matters after the Senate's recent decision. Beyond that, the UN Security Council may be less able to marshal an effective response given the deep divisions that have opened up between the United States and both Russia and China on other matters. There may be little appetite for fresh economic sanctions, partly because of the awareness that they could be the last straw for Pakistan's beleaguered economy. Governments in the non-aligned movement (NAM) may again refrain from outright criticism because of their concerns with the actions of the NWS and their obstruction of nuclear disarmament.

Despite the blow dealt to the process by the Senate's vote, the international community must continue to work to prevent a resumption of testing in South Asia. There are a number of actions that can be taken:

1. Testing moratorium

The immediate priority is to maintain the moratoria on testing (undeclared in the case of Israel, which has, however, signed the CTBT) that are currently in place in all states with nuclear weapons programs. Unfortunately, history has repeatedly shown the fragility of unilateral moratoria. The United States, the Soviet Union, Britain and France have each announced and abandoned such undertakings in the past. The CTBT has therefore not lost its relevance. Universal signature, if not ratification, of the treaty will be an essential objective if commitments made by India and Pakistan in the Lahore Declaration are to be entrenched and if the CTBT's normative prestige is to be re-established.

2. Continued push for ratification.

Although U.S. ratification is clearly the most important requirement for bringing the CTBT into force, the international community, especially Britain and France, which have ratified the treaty, must continue to press for ratification from other states. Ratification by Russia and China would still be of great benefit to the regime even though U.S. participation will be delayed until at least 2001. The recent Vienna conference of ratifying states was impressive in its unanimity and in the strength of its conclusions. The final document exhorted states that have not yet signed or ratified the treaty to do so and to "refrain from acts which would defeat its object and purpose in the meanwhile." (See document.) Such diplomatic pressure must be continued.

3. UN Security Council resolution.

On June 6, 1998 the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1172, which condemned the May 1998 tests. The resolution demanded inter alia "that India and Pakistan refrain from further nuclear tests" and called "upon all States not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion in accordance with the provisions of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty." It also expressed the Security Council's "readiness to consider further how best to ensure the implementation of the present resolution." If faced by India and Pakistan's continued resistance to CTBT signature, and given their disregard for most of the demands made in Resolution 1172, the Security Council could justifiably revisit the issue with a view to drawing up a fresh resolution. The U.S. Senate's rejection of the treaty would not preclude participation in such a resolution. Indeed, this could serve as an opportunity for the U.S. government to demonstrate that the rejection was a matter of domestic disagreement rather than a statement of U.S. foreign policy.

4. Intergovernmental discussions on responses to a resumption of testing.

Discussions could be initiated among the Security Council's five permanent members, Group of Eight, Task Force, NAM, the European Union and other groupings of states on the appropriate responses to a renewal of testing by any state. In those discussions, special consideration might be given to focusing punitive actions on the state that is the first to resume testing.

5. Surveillance.

Surveillance of potential test sites in India and Pakistan could be stepped up, with results being widely shared by governments and published where appropriate.

The Impact of Recent Events

The U.S. Senate's rejection of the CTBT was a severe blow to arms control, weakening the international community's ability to exert pressure on India and Pakistan to join the CTBT. Paradoxically, however, the Senate's rejection, combined with the domestic political developments in Pakistan and India, may have eased the pressures on both governments to resume testing—at least in the short term. If there is any good to be found in the Senate's self-defeating action, it may be that it has opened a narrow window of opportunity in which the Indian and Pakistani governments may find it politically easier to solidify their commitment to the testing moratorium.

Following the U.S. Senate's vote, there was an audible sigh of relief in New Delhi. A number of politicians and journalists referred to India being "off the hook" in regard to the treaty. Insofar as the Indian tests of May 1998 were symbolic gestures against the CTBT and the non-proliferation regime, reflections of India's desire to overcome foreign perceptions of its secondary international status, and acts of defiance that helped strengthen the BJP as it tried to secure its position in government, the recent events have lessened the political—if not the military—incentives for resuming testing. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the BJP are riding high after the "victories" in Kashmir and in the national elections. India is feeling more self-confident than at any time in recent years (partly due to improved economic fortunes), and the CTBT pressures have been eased by the U.S. Senate's actions. In domestic terms, there is therefore not much to be gained by a return to testing.

The Indian government can also now claim that it was right all along in its complaints about U.S. behavior. What is more, it can portray itself in contrast to the United States as a responsible power that is exercising restraint, a power whose leadership has command over the conduct and development of policy at home. Some of the perceived stigma attached to being a nuclear power outside the NPT may also have been reduced, along with the yearning for formal recognition as a nuclear-weapon state. If it wishes, India can now present itself within the non-aligned movement and more widely as the true friend of international security. Further testing would destroy this diplomatic advantage.

The possibility that Pakistan will decide to test again unilaterally cannot be ruled out—its insecurity is quite profound—but the political and economic risks to Pakistan of testing before India are so great that it is unlikely to be the first mover. The new military government's international legitimacy is so slight that it can ill afford to embark on such a provocative course. There is even an opportunity to link international recognition of the military government inter alia to Pakistan's signature of the CTBT. While that may still be difficult to secure because of Pakistan's domestic politics, it should be possible to bind Pakistan to its testing moratorium for the time being.

The Need for Restraint

These observations seem to offer grounds for cautious optimism. The CTBT vote and other events may have temporarily eased pressures to test. This situation presents a window of opportunity in which the governments of India and Pakistan could choose to adopt a less aggressive nuclear posture and formalize their current moratoria by signing the CTBT. It is a chance for them to demonstrate that they are responsible nuclear powers.

Unfortunately, this situation could easily change for the worse in the volatile politics of South Asia. The situation in Pakistan has yet to stabilize, and in India the length of the current opportunity rests especially upon the stability and good sense of the current coalition government and upon Prime Minister Vajpayee's hold over the Indian body politic. The moratoria are therefore insufficient: governments inside and outside South Asia need to take advantage of today's favorable wind to embed the restraint on testing.

Even after the May 1998 tests, India has had the option of playing a vital and prestigious part in lessening the dangers posed by nuclear weapons. This has not required India to join the NPT, nor to commit itself in advance to its own disarmament. What it has required is a desire to work with others rather than against them. This opportunity now presents itself. Constructive engagement on India's part would be greatly welcomed by the international community, not because it would indicate any capitulation on India's part, but because it would bring some hope back into nuclear politics.

The international community seems increasingly prepared to accept, although not to recognize formally, that India is a nuclear power. What it cannot accept is an open-ended pursuit of nuclear arms by India or any other state. The Draft Report emphasizes that India is motivated by a desire to defend itself against hostile states. That is fair enough. The trouble with this draft doctrine is that it provides no indication of the limits of Indian ambition. Among other things, it provides no reference to the arms control measures and processes through which India could demonstrate its willingness to apply limits.

Therefore, when the Indian government revisits the draft doctrine as it said that it would do after the election, it should devote particular attention to those parts of the doctrine that affect international confidence that India is indeed committed to establishing a defensive, minimum deterrent.<13> This includes fleshing out the section on disarmament and arms control and providing assurances that an intention to "step up efforts in research and development" and to resist "any restraints on building its R&D capability" will not lead to a resumption of explosive testing.

A broad observation can be made in conclusion. Since the end of the Cold War, contraction has been the dominant trend in nuclear armament. Although most evident in the sharp reduction in numbers of deployed weapons, it has also involved the shrinkage of the industrial and technological infrastructures that sustained the nuclear arms race.

This trend is today being threatened by a revival of the prestige of nuclear weapons in international politics and by expansionist technological programs and proposals in a number of states, including the missile defense proposals in the United States. The question that all governments have to face is how to restrain this trend, how to formalize and exhibit that restraint, how to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate developmental activities, and how to defend the gains of past years and decades so that the arms-reducing and disarmament trend can reassert itself when the international climate improves.

In periods like this, all states—especially the nuclear-weapon powers and in particular the United States—have a special responsibility to set limits on their national ambitions and make those limits transparent to other states and to their own people. Treaties that help to define those limits and that express universal norms may become fragile instruments, but they acquire even greater importance in such difficult times. All states need to exercise restraint, to turn a deaf ear to zealots and to defend arms control to prevent a more serious deterioration of international security.


NOTES

1. Paragraph 4 of the Lahore Declaration states, "The two sides shall continue to abide by their respective unilateral moratorium on conducting further explosions unless either side, in exercise of its national sovereignty decides that extraordinary events jeopardised its supreme interests."

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2. Information on and assessments of the Indian and Pakistani tests can be found in the Joint Statement by Department of Atomic Energy and Defence Research and Development Organisation, 17 May 1998; Gregory van der Vink et al., "False Accusations, Undetected Tests and Implications for the CTB Treaty," Arms Control Today, May 1998; and "After the Tests: India and Pakistan Update," Natural Resources Defense Council Notebook, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September/October 1998. A more recent summary of U.S. technical assessments (mainly skeptical) of the tests is provided by Mark Hibbs, "India exaggerated test yields, US earth scientists conclude," Nucleonics Week, 10 June 1999.

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3. Article I of the NPT affirms that "Each nuclear weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes…not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear weapon state to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices."

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4. See Thomas Cochran and Christopher Paine, The Role of Hydronuclear Tests and Other Low-Yield Nuclear Explosions and Their Status Under a Comprehensive Test Ban, Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington, D.C., March 1995. On recent developments, see Christopher Paine, "A Case against Virtual Nuclear Testing," Scientific American, September 1999.

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5. The "Joint Statement by Department of Atomic Energy and Defence Research Development Organisation" issued in New Delhi on May 17, 1998 noted that "the tests…have provided critical data for the validation of our capability in the design of nuclear weapons of different yields for different applications and different delivery systems. These tests have significantly enhanced our capability in computer simulation of new designs and taken us to the stage of sub-critical experiments in the future."

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6. Article IX.3 of the NPT stands in the way of India's recognition as a nuclear-weapon state with the legal rights afforded to the states that had "manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to January 1, 1967."

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7. "Draft Report of National Security Advisory Board on Indian Nuclear Doctrine," New Delhi, 17 August 1999, paragraph 3.1. See Arms Control Today, July/August 1999 for the full text.

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8. Brahma Chellaney, "India, too, has a right to credible nuclear deterrence," International Herald Tribune, 1 September 1999. Chellaney was a member of the group that drew up the Draft Report.

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9. T. Jayaraman, "Questions about capabilities," Frontline, 11-24 September 1999.

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10. The amateurism is evident inter alia in the careless way in which negative security assurances are discussed. Paragraph 2.5 of the Draft Report asserts that "India will not resort to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against States which do not possess nuclear weapons, or who are not aligned with nuclear weapon powers." This language would allow India to make nuclear threats against European NNWS belonging to NATO, against Japan and against a number of other NPT NNWS.

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11. W. Walker, Nuclear Entrapment: THORP and the Politics of Commitment (London: Institute for Public Policy Research, October 1999), p.162.

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12. Proposed by the UN General Assembly in 1993, negotiation of the FMCT has yet to start in the Conference on Disarmament, partly because of Indian and Pakistani obstruction.

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13. In the Opening Remarks by National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra at the Release of the Draft Indian Nuclear Doctrine, Mishra noted that "this is a draft proposed by the NSAB and has not yet been approved by the Government. That will have to wait until after the general elections."

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William Walker is professor of international relations at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. [Back to top]

India Releases Nuclear Doctrine, Looks to Emulate P-5 Arsenals

Howard Diamond

LAYING THE FOUNDATION for an arsenal of hundreds of nuclear warheads deployed at high-alert levels on missiles, aircraft and ships, India released its first draft nuclear doctrine on August 17. (See factfile.) Produced by the 27-member National Security Advisory Board, the six-page document has not been formally adopted by the current caretaker government, and was released "in favor of greater transparency in decision-making" by Brajesh Mishra, the Indian prime minister's national security advisor. The United States, which has been pressing India and neighboring Pakistan to restrain their nuclear competition since their tit-for-tat nuclear weapons tests in May 1998, expressed disappointment with the draft doctrine, terming it a move "in the wrong direction." Pakistani officials have warned that if put into practice, the positions laid out by India will stoke the existing arms race in South Asia.

Doctrine Released

At a press conference before releasing the document, Mishra emphasized the voluntary constraints New Delhi has already accepted on its nuclear arsenal. India, he said, has adopted a "no-first-use" policy and has pledged to never use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state. New Delhi's nuclear weapons are not "country-specific," Mishra said, and are meant only to provide "minimum but credible deterrence." Mishra also emphasized two points made in the draft doctrine: that India's nuclear weapons are under "civilian control," and that India remains in favor of complete nuclear disarmament, its nuclear plans notwithstanding.

The new doctrine, however, focuses not on limits, but on the substantial new capabilities that India needs to provide "insurance against potential risks to peace and stability" and to guarantee New Delhi "autonomy of decision-making." Calling for a nuclear policy of "retaliation only," the draft doctrine urges India to acquire "survivable" nuclear forces; "robust" command and control mechanisms; and space-based early-warning, communications and damage-assessment systems. Reflecting the terminology of existing nuclear arsenals, the doctrine calls on India to develop an "integrated operational plan" for nuclear use and a "triad of aircraft, mobile land-based missiles and sea-based assets." India's nuclear weapons should be able to shift from "peacetime deployment to fully employable forces in the shortest possible time" and be able to "retaliate effectively" following a first-strike, the doctrine concludes.

Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh was quoted by The Times of India on August 20 as downplaying the stature of the arsenal being proposed in the draft doctrine. "We are not in the arms race," Singh said. "We are not for reinventing the acronyms and phraseologies of the Cold War-era." Singh told CNN on August 18 that "there is no need for anyone to fear from what is after all a discussion paper."

Bharat Karnad, a member of the National Security Advisory Board and one of the lead drafters of the proposed doctrine, said in an August 22 interview with The Times of India that his research has shown that an arsenal of 350 to 400 nuclear weapons and associated support systems would cost India $17-$177 billion spread over 30 years. According to the CIA, India's gross domestic product in 1997 was $1.534 trillion, with annual growth estimated at about 5 percent. Karnad said the draft doctrine was a consensus document that had been prepared between January and June. He offered no explanation as to why the document had been released only three weeks before Indians go to the polls to choose a new government

International Responses

Pakistan's government, already shaky from India's recent success in expelling Pakistani fighters from the disputed Kashmir region, has responded to the Indian draft with alarm. Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmed said on August 19 that while "Pakistan does not want a nuclear arms race in South Asia....Pakistan cannot afford to ignore the security implications of India's new doctrine...." The day before, Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz said that Pakistan's own nuclear doctrine is in the final stages of development.

On August 19, at the 66-nation Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Pakistani Ambassador Munir Akram accused New Delhi of using U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott to pass false assurances on to Pakistan. Akram claimed India's "false promises" regarding its willingness to accept limits on "the deployment and operationalization of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems" were meant to "persuade Pakistan to accept one-sided commitments." Akram also asserted that India's new doctrine "would negate several measures for mutual restraint which were identified at the Lahore Summit." (See ACT, January/February 1999.) Warning that development of India's nuclear arsenal would be accompanied by a concurrent buildup of conventional weapons, Akram said Pakistan would be forced "to intensify [its] reliance on its nuclear capabilities to deter the use or threat of aggression or domination by India."

State Department spokesman James Rubin said August 17 that the United States knew India was preparing a nuclear doctrine but had not been given a copy of the draft prior to its public release. The Clinton administration, he said, "will continue [its] efforts to de-nuclearize the Subcontinent" and to push India and Pakistan to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Faced with criticism that the high-level dialogue between Talbott and Singh did not seem to be producing results, Rubin said Talbott's diplomacy had produced some "limited success," and cited India's moratorium on further nuclear testing and its commitment to work toward signing the CTBT by September.

Washington Disappointed

The United States is still pressing India and Pakistan to improve their export control systems, to accept a moratorium on fissile material production pending negotiation of an international fissile material cut-off treaty, and to engage in a sustained bilateral security dialogue with each other, Rubin said. "[W]e think it would be unwise to move in the direction of developing a nuclear deterrent and encouraging thereby the other country to develop a nuclear deterrent and thereby creating an action-reaction cycle that will increase the risks to both countries," he said. "We think at the end of that process, the security of [both countries] will be worse off...."

Pakistan's Road To a Minimum Nuclear Deterrent

Farah Zhara

Pakistan's nuclear weapons program has a symbiotic relationship with Indian nuclear weapons policy. Pakistan has always claimed that it developed its nuclear weapon capability in response to security threats from India. More specifically, Islamabad traces the genesis of its program to India's first nuclear test in 1974. Between 1974 and 1998, when India resumed nuclear testing, Pakistan's two-fold strategy was to develop a credible nuclear deterrent against India and to fight international pressure against its own program.

Smarting from years of punitive sanctions, particularly those imposed by the United States, in 1995 Pakistan assured the world that it was pursuing a policy of non-weaponized nuclear deterrence—the same doctrine India had maintained since its 1974 test. However, India's nuclear tests of May 11 and 13, 1998, forced Pakistan's option of a "minimum nuclear deterrent" into the open. Pakistan said it was left with no choice but to respond to the Indian tests so as to restore the "regional strategic balance," doing so with its own series of nuclear tests on May 28 and 30.

In the year since India and Pakistan challenged the nuclear status quo, the symbiotic relationship between the two countries' nuclear weapons programs more or less continued, but it has now become enmeshed with the determination of both states to develop a minimum nuclear deterrent in a security environment severely shaken by their latest conflict over Kashmir. With the release of India's draft nuclear doctrine on August 17 (see factfile), the concept of nuclear deterrence in South Asia has been stripped of its minimalist pretences. India's apparent intention to pursue an ambitious and open-ended nuclear weapons program, under the pretext of a "minimum" nuclear deterrent, may now force Pakistan's hand.

Islamabad's assumption that India would not define its doctrine so soon had allowed it to continue its internal debates, issuing only ambiguous and non-committal statements about its intentions. But Pakistan's imperative to create its own minimum deterrent, and establish the command and control system to manage it, will compel Islamabad to answer some fundamental questions. Should it pursue a first-strike or second-strike capability? Whose finger will be on the nuclear button? Can the country afford to engage India in an arms race—either nuclear or conventional?

Pakistan again finds itself in a highly fluid situation whereby its own nuclear weapons policies keep evolving on an ad hoc, reactive basis in response to Indian actions. India and Pakistan's symbiotic nuclear relationship, which has now escalated to the dangerous level of weaponization, will continue to shape the region's security environment and to influence the international arms control agenda. Several factors, especially the continuing instabilityalong the so-called "line of control" (LOC), is a vivid reminder that South Asia remains the most dangerous nuclear flash point in the world.

The Move Toward Conflict

After the May 1998 tests, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shamshad Ahmed assured the world that "In South Asia, nuclear deterrence may...usher in a new era of durable peace between Pakistan and India."<1> However, several geographical, military and operational factors suggest that there is indeed a risk of a South Asian conflict escalating to the nuclear level. First, because India and Pakistan are neighboring countries, their capitals, major population centers and military-industrial infrastructures can be reached by the other side's missile forces in only four or five minutes, allowing little time to assess an attack warning and make a decision to launch a retaliatory strike. Secondly, their history of direct military confrontation over Kashmir and constant artillery shelling across the LOC feeds apprehension that the situation at any time might spin out of control, accidentally if not by design. Thirdly, neither country has reliable sophisticated early warning or command, control and communications (C3) systems in place.

In the aftermath of the latest conflict over Kashmir that erupted this spring, it was reported that the crises brought the two countries "much closer to full-scale war than was publicly acknowledged…and raised very real fears that one or both countries would resort to using variants of the nuclear devices tested last year."<2> Only two days after the release of the Indian draft nuclear doctrine, the Pakistani foreign minister downplayed the idea of a durable peace in South Asia during a press briefing and asked instead, "If India operationalizes its nuclear weapons, Pakistan will be obliged to follow suit and...what would be the consequences?"

The recent conflict in the Kargil region of Kashmir has also given rise to fears that a new arms race may be in the offing in South Asia, leading to further development of nuclear weapon capabilities and a major re-equipping of conventional forces that could include enhanced weapons systems. Indian strategists' perception of the Indian military's lack of preparedness for the conflict may prompt New Delhi to invest in new, high-tech weapons systems such as laser-guided missiles, military satellites to monitor the LOC and early warning systems. Similarly, Pakistani military expenditures may also rise sharply, though its financial constraints would continue to curb such spending. But Kashmir is only one component of the nuclear dynamics in South Asia that set into motion India's and Pakistan's decisions to go nuclear. There have been a series of disturbing trends in arms control in the region which, while not embroiled in a mad arms race, certainly seems to be following a path beyond the control of either government. Pakistan, being the weaker party, remains closer to the brink.

It had been predicted that Indo-Pakistani border unrest would continue to be the dominant form of conflict in the period 1998-2005.<3> India and Pakistan would continue to rely on their nuclear weapons programs to prevent provocations from mutating into full-blown challenges directed at one another. This was supplemented by the fact that for the period 1993 to 1997, India ranked as the third largest importer of conventional arms among developing nations with purchases of $5.3 billion, and Pakistan the eighth with $2.5 billion.<4> After the release of India's draft doctrine, Pakistani strategists are urging the government to go for a "one-rung escalation ladder knitted in tightly with a highly cohesive, state-of-the-art tactical conventional military."<5> Pakistan had previously made the argument that because the asymmetry between India's and Pakistan's conventional capabilities was increasing, the role of nuclear weapons in Pakistan's security was likely to enhance proportionally.<6> Indian Army Chief V. P. Malik said, "Having crossed the nuclear threshold does not mean that a conventional war is out...nuclear deterrence only restricts an all out war...As a military strategist, I will say that if militancy grows too big, both…are tempted to use conventional weapons."<7>

Already, military expenditures for both India and Pakistan are exorbitantly high, with the burden much heavier for Pakistan, which has one-fifth of India's gross domestic product (GDP). India devotes 3.6 percent of its national income toward military spending, while Pakistan allocates nearly 7 percent. In per capita terms, India spends $10; Pakistan spends $26. India's 1998-99 defense budget was approximately $10 billion, an increase of about 7 percent over the previous year and representing more than 15 percent of total central government expenditures. Pakistan's defense expenditure for the same period stood at $3.15 billion (showing no real increase), representing 23 percent of total central government spending.

Minimum Deterrence Into the Morgue

India's draft nuclear doctrine formally deposited the concept of minimum deterrence into the morgue. Though Pakistan made the right noises complaining to the international community that the draft will undermine the "strategic restraint regime" under discussion, Pakistani military officials say "there is nothing new in the draft that we were not already aware of."<8> Pakistan's own imperative continues to revolve around bringing attention to the damage India is doing to non-proliferation and arms control, and going ahead with whatever it can achieve in the field itself, declaring only what is necessary and keeping the rest veiled.

Even before the fatal blow delivered by the draft, minimum deterrence in South Asia was prey to a serious malady. Strategists had defined it as "the possession of sufficient nuclear weapons to inflict grievous harm on the enemy in retaliation and no more."<9> However, the concept of "no more" did not fit into the picture comfortably with the inclusion of China in India's security calculus. Therefore, even before the Indian draft came out, Pakistan was faced with a host of unanswered questions: For how long would Pakistan be able to match India's nuclear weapon capabilities? Can Pakistan afford to sit back and relax now that it has declared its nuclear weapon capability? Can it define for itself where it will stop refinement of nuclear weapons and missiles? Does it have a doctrine whereby it can spell out (even to itself) its requirement in concrete terms?

If Pakistan sticks to what it calls the "basic tenets" of its nuclear policy, then the message in India's draft doctrine has not carried through to Islamabad. The three tenets of Pakistan's proclaimed nuclear policy are: 1) nuclear threats warrant nuclear responses; 2) its nuclear force will act as a force multiplier to balance the asymmetry in conventional forces; and 3) there should be a regional solution to non-proliferation issues.<10> India's new doctrine seeks to make clear that it is not a country-specific doctrine and that Indian nuclear policy will not be tied down to any South Asian arms control fetters. Pakistan's official reaction pretends to be oblivious to this message in the draft.

What then will be the basic components of Pakistan's minimum deterrent? It will likely involve bomb design work, miniaturization and fitting warheads onto ballistic missiles. It will also mean the production of fissile material at a hectic pace before Pakistan accedes to any fissile material cutoff agreement, such as that now being negotiated at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva. However, the focus of Pakistan's attention will be on delivery systems.

Given Pakistan's considerable inferiority in aircraft—about 50 front-line aircraft opposed to India's approximately 250-300—it will need to rely on missiles of greater range and accuracy for striking targets deep inside India. Presently, Pakistan does have enough aircraft to conduct a nuclear mission successfully; its 34 F-16 A/B and 15 Mirage IIIEP aircraft could form the nucleus of an atomic strike force, with a dozen squadrons of Chinese and French-made aircraft providing fighter cover.<11> Indian air superiority would keep Pakistan under the constant fear of a pre-emptive surgical strike against its strategic assets, including its aircraft, which would limit the number of Pakistan's delivery vehicles for nuclear retaliation.

Land-based missiles would be the backbone of Pakistan's nuclear force, with an emphasis on the development of solid-fuelled mobile missiles until a second-strike capability can be ensured. Pakistan requires better missile guidance, navigation and targeting systems. Additional attention may be given later to air- and submarine-launched missiles (its new Agosta-class submarines are nuclear capable). Nevertheless, India will retain a decisive edge in both air and naval capabilities with its larger stock of fighter aircraft and investments in a "blue water" navy.

Nuclear 'First Use'

India's declarations on "no first use" and "no use against non-nuclear-weapon states" has been matched by Pakistan's offer of talks on a comprehensive non-aggression pact. Pending such an agreement, Pakistan does not rule out pre-emption. It is generally assumed that a nuclear first strike is a principal part of Pakistan's nuclear doctrine. After the release of India's draft doctrine, Pakistan condemned India's offer of a no-first-use pledge as a "farce." During his August 19 press conference, Pakistani Foreign Minister Ahmed said, "India itself places no credibility in 'no first use.' If it did, it should have accepted China's assurance of 'no first use'…that would have obviated the need for India's nuclear weapons acquisition, much less for operational deployment of nuclear weapons."

According to Brigader Syed Mujtaba, defense attache at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, "Pakistan cannot afford to downsize its troops because it has to also keep a conventional force against India."<12> If Pakistan is not planning to resort to a nuclear war with India at the first serious provocation, it may well have to reinforce its conventional capabilities. However, in the current post-conflict environment, Pakistan may encounter some reluctance on the part of some arms exporters to provide strategic assets such as attack aircraft, as exemplified by France's decision to delay its Mirage deal with Islamabad.

In formulating its minimum deterrent doctrine, not only must Pakistan determine whether to develop a first-strike force or pursue a retaliatory capability, it must also decide how far it will allow itself to be challenged before it unleashes a nuclear first strike. Two factors suggest Islamabad will maintain its first-strike posture. First, the asymmetry between Indian and Pakistani conventional forces makes a first-strike capability an equalizer for Islamabad. That is why Pakistan has repeatedly rejected India's proposal for an agreement on no-first-use. Second, the development of a first-strike capability is less cumbersome for Pakistan. Investment in retaliatory forces requires intense planning and enormous resources, which Pakistan cannot afford.

Furthermore, it is likely that Pakistan's nuclear doctrine will necessitate the targeting of major population centers rather than strategic and military facilities. The underlying reason is that Pakistan will not have the quality and quantity of nuclear weapons to attack "hard" targets such as command and control facilities, and instead will simply opt for inflicting "grievous harm" against population centers, knowing that such an attack will certainly result in a catastrophic retaliatory response. However, one factor that might restrain Pakistan from targeting major cities in India is the large number of Muslims living in urban areas.

Decision-Making in Pakistan

With Pakistan's army playing the central role in strategic planning, the overall supervision and coordination is vested in the Strategic Planning Directorate (SPD), previously Combat Development Directorate (CDD), of the General Headquarters (GHQ). It is generally believed that the Defense Committee of the Cabinet (DCC), chaired by the prime minister, would take the ultimate decision for use of nuclear weapons in case of war. However, reports that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was not fully apprized of the Kargil operation by the military, created new uncertainties as to who would take that decision during a crisis. Indeed, some U.S. analysts "see the civilian finger on the nuclear trigger as only one among two or even three others."<13> If these uncertainties continue, they might render "hot line" consultations between the prime ministers of the two countries irrelevant in a highly volatile situation. The existing evidence suggests that while the chances of a deliberate, planned nuclear attack may be low, the risk of an accidental or unauthorized nuclear strike cannot be ruled out.

In Pakistan the role of the armed forces is in transition. The resignation of Army Chief Jehangir Karamat in October 1998 marked a turning point in civilian-military relations, at least symbolically, if not in substantive terms. Although Prime Minister Sharif, with his two-thirds majority in the lower house of parliament, seems to be asserting greater control over the military, the army's Kargil operation put Sharif's authority to a severe test. As the international community pressured Islamabad to withdraw the Pakistani-backed Islamic forces, the Pakistani army, proud of its "successes" at Kargil, was not amenable to such a dictate. Sharif's last-minute dash to Washington on July 4 to meet President Clinton finally overcame the army's reluctance to withdraw the fighters. Notwithstanding this temporary setback to Pakistan's army, a "hybrid" between civilian and military rule may continue to define the decision-making arrangements in Pakistan with regard to nuclear weapons procurement as well as nuclear weapons policy and doctrine, including command and control.<14>

Further complicating the command and control of the incipient nuclear forces in South Asia is India's draft nuclear doctrine that emphasizes the "survivability" of India's nuclear deterrent force, which will necessitate the dispersal of nuclear weapons. Such a deployment, however, will make the command and control system more decentralized and accident prone as commanders at the operational level must operate, under the tremendous pressures and uncertainties of battle, to prevent a decapitating attack against their nuclear forces. This invites a greater risk of inaccurate decisions and thus an unwanted launch.

The already questionable state of Pakistan's "negative control" of its nuclear weapons (its ability to prevent an unwanted launch) is further seriously weakened by Pakistan's (and India's) lack of adequate early warning technology. In August 1998, when the United States fired cruise missiles at Osama Bin Laden's training camp in Afghanistan, the missiles overflew Pakistan but went undetected by the military. The United States had dispatched a senior military officer to Islamabad so that he could confirm the missiles were American and targeted on Afghanistan and not Indian missiles targeted against Pakistan.

In the near term, some of the uncertainties surrounding India's and Pakistan's emerging deterrent forces could be addressed by transparency measures and other confidence-building initiatives (declarations of force size, deployment strategy, launch authority and employment doctrine, for example), but prospects for this remain dim. Assistance in this regard from countries like the United States cannot be accepted readily as it would involve disclosure of what might be sensitive information—the same reason that bilateral efforts with India have remained inadequate. Both India and Pakistan proclaim the necessity for transparency and the exchange of information, yet remain wedded to the deliberate ambiguity and exaggerated claims of their nuclear weapons programs that served them so well before their demonstrations of nuclear prowess.

Implications for Arms Control

Following their May 1998 nuclear tests, both India and Pakistan declared unilateral testing moratoriums and hinted that they might adhere, in some manner, to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), with Pakistan saying its accession would depend on Indian actions.<15> However, on July 11, 1998, Sharif announced a major reversal of government policy when he delinked Pakistan's nuclear policy from India's, saying Islamabad's decision to sign the CTBT would be made independently of Indian actions. In September 1998, both Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced during the opening session of the 53rd UN General Assembly that their governments were prepared to sign the CTBT within the next year. Sharif made clear Pakistan's adherence would take place "only in conditions free from coercion or pressure," an apparent reference to the sanctions imposed on Pakistan, particularly those by the United States, following the May nuclear tests. Sharif's move toward delinkage seemed to continue through the prime ministers' summit meeting in Lahore, Pakistan, in February 1999, only the second visit by an Indian prime minister to Pakistan and an important step in establishing a stable nuclear balance in South Asia.

However, Pakistan's delinkage proved to be an ephemeral phenomenon. India's April 11, 1999 test of its 2,500-kilometer-range Agni-2 missile, which Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes described as capable of carrying a "special weapons payload," initiated a new round of tit-for-tat missile tests. On April 14, Pakistan tested its Ghauri-2 missile, which Islamabad claims has a range of 2,300 kilometers (with a reduced payload), saying the test was necessary to maintain the strategic balance. The following day Pakistan also tested its short-range Shaheen-1 missile, believed capable of delivering a 1,000-kilogram payload to a range of 750 kilometers. The Pakistani missiles were sitting on their launching pads ready to be fired, but Islamabad had been waiting for India to conduct its missile tests first.<16> Anticipating India's test of the Agni-2, which reportedly had been delayed for both technical and political reasons, Pakistan delayed its own tests so New Delhi would bear the brunt of international opprobrium for initiating a new round of tests. But when the Vajpayee government collapsed only days later on April 17, Pakistani leaders became more nervous and started dropping hints about re-linkage.

Pakistan's interest in moving independently toward joining the CTBT was further diminished in May when the U.S. Congress, in response to the fighting in Kashmir, slowed the process of easing the economic sanctions that had been imposed on Islamabad following its 1998 tests. After Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) withdrew his amendment on easing sanctions, Pakistan's Foreign Office termed the move "an unfortunate development which creates roadblocks in the implementation of the signing agenda of the CTBT."

Pakistan's—and India's—delay in moving toward accession to the CTBT has also been served by the delay in bringing the treaty into force. Only 21 of the 44 states whose ratification is necessary to bring the test ban into force have ratified the accord, and three of those 44 states—India, Pakistan and North Korea—have not yet signed the treaty. Moreover, the United States, the principal proponent of the CTBT, has not ratified the treaty, and the battle continues between the Clinton administration and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC) on a range of foreign policy issues, with the test ban remaining hostage.

As long as President Clinton's efforts to secure the Senate's advice and consent to ratification of the CTBT remain stalled, India and Pakistan will not be in a hurry to make good on their commitments to accede to the test ban regime. Additionally, Pakistan would like to wait until a new Indian government is formed after the September-October 1999 national elections. Islamabad has also made clear that if India were to resume nuclear testing, Pakistan would review its position on the CTBT, and in case it had "adhered to" the treaty, it would invoke the supreme interest clause as provided by Article IX of the treaty.

The perceived disparity between the fissile material stockpiles of India and Pakistan will also contribute to Pakistan's tendency toward linkage. India and Pakistan have produced sufficient quantities of plutonium and enriched uranium to manufacture anywhere between 70 to 200 and 20 to 50 nuclear devices, respectively. The United States has pointed out to Pakistan that freezing existing stockpiles could work toward Islamabad's advantage. Pakistan, however, continues to invoke the concepts of "sufficiency" and "unequal stockpiles" to ward off U.S. pressure for a moratorium on the production of fissile material for weapons purposes before substantive negotiations on a cutoff regime begin in the CD. This rationale by Pakistan will allow it—as well as India—to maintain or accelerate production of fissile material before the finalization of the treaty. Both India and Pakistan may also resort to procedural tactics to lengthen the negotiating process of the treaty at the CD, an ideal environment for linkages among national security agendas.

The minimal progress made so far by India and Pakistan in establishing a nuclear restraint regime in South Asia will also serve to reinforce the symbiotic relationship between India's and Pakistan's nuclear weapons programs. When the Kargil crisis erupted in May, bilateral discussions were at a very preliminary stage, already complicated by India's linkage of its nuclear weapons program to China's and the ongoing process by Indian policy-makers to develop and articulate a nuclear doctrine.

In October 1998 talks at the foreign minister level, Pakistan proposed a framework for what was called a strategic restraint regime. The framework included:

  • a non-aggression pact;
  • the prevention of a nuclear weapons and ballistic missile race;
  • risk reduction mechanisms;
  • avoidance of nuclear conflict;
  • formalizing moratoria on nuclear testing;
  • non-induction of anti-ballistic missile systems and submarine-launched ballistic missiles; and
  • nuclear doctrines of minimum deterrent capability.
  • Pakistan also proposed mutual and balanced reduction of forces in the conventional field. India matched these proposals by offering a framework consisting of:

  • no-first-use pledges;
  • agreement on preventing nuclear war, including through accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons;
  • extension of agreements prohibiting attack against nuclear installations;
  • advance notification of ballistic missile tests; and
  • verification of data exchange.
  • As presented, India's draft nuclear doctrine does not allow for the implementation of the strategic restraint regime as it was envisaged. Although the draft does not negate all of the understandings hammered out during the February 1999 Lahore summit (such as the development of confidence-building measures and advance notification of missile tests), the post-Kargil political and military environment will prevent any further development of a strategic restraint regime in the near future.

    This latest conflict in Kashmir has only served to widen the chasm between India and Pakistan. Encouraged by diplomatic support on its position on Kargil, India has demanded that the LOC be declared inviolable and that Pakistan stops its assistance to the resistance movement in Kashmir. These conditions are not acceptable to Pakistan. In any case, India's caretaker government will not enter into substantive negotiations with Pakistan over Kashmir or non-proliferation issues until a new government is formed. This could well push the restart of the strategic restraint initiative into 2000. Moreover, India balks at any U.S. involvement in what it considers a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan. The international community now feels that Kashmir is the nuclear flash point and that it has to be addressed one way or the other.

    The Road Ahead

    Pakistan's nuclear weapons policy, despite any claims to the contrary, will remain inextricably linked to India's. New Delhi will continue to say that its concerns are not Pakistan-specific and that India's broader security concerns, particularly regarding China, would have to be addressed for any arms control or strategic restraint regime to be viable. Pakistan, on the other hand, will keep insisting that its program is India-specific, continuing the conditioning of its weapons programs and policies on Indian actions.

    Even if Pakistan were to maintain its current levels of nuclear and missile development, it is not clear that it can sustain this posture in light of the economic problems it is facing. However, in the coming years, if India accelerates its nuclear weapon and missile buildup, Pakistan will willy-nilly be a participant in an arms race. An arms race with India—whether nuclear or conventional—would be expensive and unaffordable for Pakistan. Indeed, the gap between Indian and Pakistani nuclear weapon development programs and deployments may only widen. A strategic restraint regime, though in Pakistan's interest, will be difficult to establish in South Asia's current security environment.

    Pakistan now cannot escape from the inevitable responsibility of doing its "homework" on nuclear doctrine development and establishing an effective and reliable command and control system. The exercise of internal discussions and debates will have to be brought to a conclusion. However, Pakistan may not be obliged to share with India, or the rest of the world, its conclusions on its strategic thinking until a higher degree of transparency vis-à-vis India becomes a reality.

    In the meantime, the emerging trends of extremism in Indian and Pakistani politics need to be watched closely. The ascendancy of extremist forces will only heighten tensions in South Asia and make the nuclear situation even more volatile. As a self-declared nuclear-weapon state, Pakistan will also have to continually reassure the international community that its capability is not a prelude to an "Islamic bomb," a worry shared by many Western countries and Israel should Islamic fundamentalists gain ascendancy in Pakistan.

    In these circumstances, the best course of action for the United States is to keep on engaging India and Pakistan in substantive dialogues on non-proliferation and regional security issues, and to encourage and support their efforts to resolve their differences. For India, a sustained high-level dialogue with Pakistan, building on the Lahore summit, offers the best prospect for South Asian peace and development, particularly in the aftermath of the latest Kashmir conflict. But if the Lahore process is to open a new dialogue, India will have to moderate its nuclear draft doctrine instead of trying to engage Pakistan in a costly and unavoidable nuclear arms race.


    NOTES

    1. Ahmed, Shamshad. "The Nuclear Subcontinent," Foreign Affairs, July/August 1999, p. 125.

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    2. John Lancaster, "Kashmir Crises Was Defused on Brink of War," The Washington Post, July 26, 1999, p. A1.

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    3. Rand Corporation, Sources of Conflict in the 21st Century: Regional Futures and U.S. Strategy, edited by Zalmay Khalilzad and Ian O. Lesser, 1998.

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    4.Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1990-1997, Congressional Research Services, p. 53.

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    5. Dr. Shireen Mazaari, "A doctrine in perspective-II Pakistan's response," The News International, Pakistan, August 26, 1999.

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    6. Pakistani Ambassador to the United Nations Ahmed Kamal's statement on "A strategic restraint regime for South Asia" at the Ninth Annual International Arms Control Conference at Sandia National Laboratory, April 16-18, 1999. The two reasons he gave for this argument were: 75 percent of India's conventional assets and especially its strike formations are deployed on Pakistan's borders; and India will further gain a decisive edge in the conventional field, with its indigenous defense production and its continued procurement of weapons from a variety of sources, especially from Russia and France.

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    7. "Army Chief fears rising tension on China borders," The Asian Age, New Delhi, February 11, 1999.

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    8. Interview with Brigadier Feroz H. Khan, director of Arms Control and Disarmament Affairs in the Strategic Planning Directorate, Rawalpindi, August 30, 1999.

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    9. Lawrence Freedman, Evolution of Nuclear Strategy, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1989, p. 207.

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    10. Statement of Masood Khan, political counselor of the Embassy of Pakistan Embassy, read at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs symposium, Washington, DC, February 22, 1999.

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    11. Francois Heisborg, "The prospects for nuclear stability between India and Pakistan," Survival, Vol. 40, No.4, Winter 1998-99, International Institute for Strategic Studies, London, p. 80.

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    12. Author interview, August 25, 1999.

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    13. Jonathan Power, "Indo-Pakistani quarrel's high-risk countdown," The Washington Times, July 8, 1999, p. A1.

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    14. See, for example, Hasan-Askari Rizvi, "Civil Military Relations in Contemporary Pakistan," Survival, Vol. 40, No. 2, Summer 1998, International Institute for Strategic Studies, London, p.110.

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    15. India and Pakistan are among the 44 named states which must ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty before it can enter into force.

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    16. Aktar Hasan, "Second round completed: Short-range missile Shaheen tested," Dawn, Karachi, April 16, 1999.

     


    Farah Zahra, a former research fellow at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, has taught nuclear non-proliferation in Europe and now works as a defense analyst in Washington, DC.

    India's Draft Nuclear Doctrine

    On August 17, Indian national security advisor Brajesh Mishra released a draft report from the National Security Advisory Board on Indian Nuclear Doctrine. The report, which outlines in broad terms India's rationale and intentions regarding the development of its "minimum nuclear deterrent," has not been formally approved by the caretaker government of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Below is the full text of the draft doctrine.

    1.Preamble

    1.1. The use of nuclear weapons in particular as well as other weapons of mass destruction constitutes the gravest threat to humanity and to peace and stability in the international system. Unlike the other two categories of weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical weapons which have been outlawed by international treaties, nuclear weapons remain instruments for national and collective security, the possession of which on a selective basis has been sought to be legitimised through permanent extension of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) in May 1995. Nuclear weapon states have asserted that they will continue to rely on nuclear weapons with some of them adopting policies to use them even in a non-nuclear context. These developments amount to virtual abandonment of nuclear disarmament. This is a serious setback to the struggle of the international community to abolish weapons of mass destruction.

    1.2. India's primary objective is to achieve economic, political, social, scientific and technological development within a peaceful and democratic framework. This requires an environment of durable peace and insurance against potential risks to peace and stability. It will be India's endeavour to proceed towards this overall objective in cooperation with the global democratic trends and to play a constructive role in advancing the international system toward a just, peaceful and equitable order.

    1.3. Autonomy of decision making in the developmental process and in strategic matters is an inalienable democratic right of the Indian people. India will strenuously guard this right in a world where nuclear weapons for a select few are sought to be legitimised for an indefinite future, and where there is growing complexity and frequency in the use of force for political purposes.

    1.4. India's security is an integral component of its development process. India continuously aims at promoting an ever-expanding area of peace and stability around it so that developmental priorities can be pursued without disruption.

    1.5. However, the very existence of offensive doctrine pertaining to the first use of nuclear weapons and the insistence of some nuclear weapons states on the legitimacy of their use even against non-nuclear weapon countries constitute a threat to peace, stability and sovereignty of states.

    1.6. This document outlines the broad principles for the development, deployment and employment of India's nuclear forces. Details of policy and strategy concerning force structures, deployment and employment of nuclear forces will flow from this framework and will be laid down separately and kept under constant review.

    2. Objectives

    2.1. In the absence of global nuclear disarmament India's strategic interests require effective, credible nuclear deterrence and adequate retaliatory capability should deterrence fail. This is consistent with the UN Charter, which sanctions the right of self-defence.

    2.2. The requirements of deterrence should be carefully weighed in the design of Indian nuclear forces and in the strategy to provide for a level of capability consistent with maximum credibility, survivability, effectiveness, safety and security.

    2.3. India shall pursue a doctrine of credible minimum nuclear deterrence. In this policy of "retaliation only", the survivability of our arsenal is critical. This is a dynamic concept related to the strategic environment, technological imperatives and the needs of national security. The actual size components, deployment and employment of nuclear forces will be decided in the light of these factors. India's peacetime posture aims at convincing any potential aggressor that :

    (a) any threat of use of nuclear weapons against India shall invoke measures to counter the threat: and

    (b) any nuclear attack on India and its forces shall result in punitive retaliation with nuclear weapons to inflict damage unacceptable to the aggressor.

    2.4. The fundamental purpose of Indian nuclear weapons is to deter the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons by any State or entity against India and its forces. India will not be the first to initiate a nuclear strike, but will respond with punitive retaliation should deterrence fail.

    2.5. India will not resort to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against States which do not possess nuclear weapons, or are not aligned with nuclear weapon powers.

    2.6. Deterrence requires that India maintain:

    (a) Sufficient, survivable and operationally prepared nuclear forces,

    (b) a robust command and control system,

    (c) effective intelligence and early warning capabilities, and

    (d) comprehensive planning and training for operations in line with the strategy, and

    (e) the will to employ nuclear forces and weapons.

    2.7. Highly effective conventional military capabilities shall be maintained to raise the threshold of outbreak both of conventional military conflict as well as that of threat or use of nuclear weapons.

    3. Nuclear Forces

    3.1. India's nuclear forces will be effective, enduring, diverse, flexible, and responsive to the requirements in accordance with the concept of credible minimum deterrence. These forces will be based on a triad of aircraft, mobile land-based missiles and sea-based assets in keeping with the objectives outlined above. Survivability of the forces will be enhanced by a combination of multiple redundant systems, mobility, dispersion and deception.

    3.2. The doctrine envisages assured capability to shift from peacetime deployment to fully employable forces in the shortest possible time, and the ability to retaliate effectively even in a case of significant degradation by hostile strikes.

    4. Credibility and Survivability

    The following principles are central to India's nuclear deterrent:

    4.1. Credibility: Any adversary must know that India can and will retaliate with sufficient nuclear weapons to inflict destruction and punishment that the aggressor will find unacceptable if nuclear weapons are used against India and its forces.

    4.2. Effectiveness: The efficacy of India's nuclear deterrent be maximised through synergy among all elements involving reliability, timeliness, accuracy and weight of the attack.

    4.3 Survivability:

    (i) India's nuclear forces and their command and control shall be organised for very high survivability against surprise attacks and for rapid punitive response. They shall be designed and deployed to ensure survival against a first strike and to endure repetitive attrition attempts with adequate retaliatory capabilities for a punishing strike which would be unacceptable to the aggressor.

    (ii) Procedures for the continuity of nuclear command and control shall ensure a continuing capability to effectively employ nuclear weapons.

    5. Command and Control

    5.1. Nuclear weapons shall be tightly controlled and released for use at the highest political level. The authority to release nuclear weapons for use resides in the person of the Prime Minister of India, or the designated successor(s).

    5.2. An effective and survivable command and control system with requisite flexibility and responsiveness shall be in place. An integrated operational plan, or a series of sequential plans, predicated on strategic objectives and a targetting policy shall form part of the system.

    5.3. For effective employment the unity of command and control of nuclear forces including dual capable delivery systems shall be ensured.

    5.4. The survivability of the nuclear arsenal and effective command, control, communications, computing, intelligence and information (C4I2) systems shall be assured.

    5.5. The Indian defence forces shall be in a position to, execute operations in an NBC environment with minimal degradation.

    5.6. Space based and other assets shall be created to provide early warning, communications, damage/detonation assessment.

    6. Security and Safety

    6.1. Security: Extraordinary precautions shall be taken to ensure that nuclear weapons, their manufacture, transportation and storage are fully guarded against possible theft, loss, sabotage, damage or unauthorised access or use.

    6.2. Safety is an absolute requirement and tamper proof procedures and systems shall be instituted to ensure that unauthorised or inadvertent activation/use of nuclear weapons does not take place and risks of accident are avoided.

    6.3. Disaster control: India shall develop an appropriate disaster control system capable of handling the unique requirements of potential incidents involving nuclear weapons and materials.

    7. Research and Development

    7.1. India should step up efforts in research and development to keep up with technological advances in this field.

    7.2. While India is committed to maintain the deployment of a deterrent which is both minimum and credible, it will not accept any restraints on building its R&D capability.

    8. Disarmament and Arms Control

    8.1. Global, verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament is a national security objective. India shall continue its efforts to achieve the goal of a nuclear weapon-free world at an early date.

    8.2. Since no-first use of nuclear weapons is India's basic commitment, every effort shall be made to persuade other States possessing nuclear weapons to join an international treaty banning first use.

    8.3. Having provided unqualified negative security assurances, India shall work for internationally binding unconditional negative security assurances by nuclear weapon states to non-nuclear weapon states.

    8.4. Nuclear arms control measures shall be sought as part of national security policy to reduce potential threats and to protect our own capability and its effectiveness.

    8.5. In view of the very high destructive potential of nuclear weapons, appropriate nuclear risk reduction and confidence building measures shall be sought, negotiated and instituted.

    India, Pakistan Test New Missiles; U.S. Urges Restraint

    Howard Diamond

    BUILDING ON their tit-for-tat nuclear tests of May 1998, India and Pakistan conducted test flights of new nuclear-capable ballistic missiles on April 11 and on April 14 and 15, respectively, bringing both states closer to deploying strategic arsenals based on ballistic missiles. In keeping with the February 1999 Lahore Declaration, both states informed each other in advance of their tests, and also gave advance notice to the five permanent (P-5) members of the UN Security Council. (See ACT, January/February 1999.) Depending on their payloads, India's Agni-2 and Pakistan's Ghauri-2 and Shaheen-1 missiles could enable both states to reach important new targets: Islamabad may be able to strike all of India, and New Delhi, already capable of striking any target in Pakistan, may be able to reach Beijing and Shanghai.

    The P-5 states, Japan and Australia have condemned India's missile test and Pakistan's two tests in response. China, which New Delhi has identified as its primary security concern, warned on April 13 that the Agni-2 test "could trigger a new round of arms race in South Asia," and called on India and Pakistan to resolve their differences "through continuous patient, frank and meaningful dialogue." The statement from Beijing's Foreign Ministry made no reference to any effect the Agni-2 test would have on China's own strategic modernization efforts.

    When asked on April 14 about Pakistan's response to New Delhi's missile test, Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh asserted, "There is no arms race. There is no danger." Islamabad's Foreign Ministry issued a statement later that day saying, "Pakistan does not want a nuclear and missile race in South Asia" and called on New Delhi to accept Pakistani proposals for a strategic restraint regime. New Delhi has resisted regional and international efforts to limit its nascent nuclear arsenal, insisting that no limitations are feasible without including China.

    At an April 14 hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Karl Inderfurth said that India bore a "special responsibility" for preventing a South Asian arms race, noting that in both the nuclear and missile areas Pakistan "is responding" to Indian actions. "Both sides have said they want to meet their security requirements at the lowest possible level," Inderfurth said. "We would now like to see concrete steps from both countries that they intend to do so."

    According to a U.S. official, the Clinton administration has restrained its criticism of the tests, recognizing both countries' stated intentions to develop nuclear deterrent capabilities. Washington has "urged both sides not to test or to do anything to provoke the other" and is trying to persuade the South Asian rivals to accept the need for a stable "minimum deterrent framework," the official said. In discussions with U.S. officials, both India and Pakistan have so far resisted requests to define their concepts of credible minimum deterrence or discuss stable basing modes.

    Extended Range

    According to reports in the Indian press, tests of the Agni-2 had been canceled in late-January and early-March for a combination of political and technical reasons. The January test would have conflicted with the arrival of U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott for non-proliferation talks with Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh, and the March test would have come too soon after the successful Indian-Pakistani summit in Lahore. The nature of the so-called "technical hitches" referred to by officials from India's Defense Research and Development Organization as having influenced the two postponements was unclear. India has developed the nuclear-capable Prithvi family of 150-, 250- and 350-kilometer-range ballistic missiles and is alleged to be interested in developing an intercontinental ballistic missile, sometimes referred to as the Agni-3.

    According to New Delhi, the Agni-2 missile traveled over 2,000 kilometers and has an estimated range of 2,500 kilometers. Indian officials said the tested missile had a payload of 1,000 kilograms. Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes said the Agni-2 could carry a "special weapons payload" and that a decision on whether to deploy a nuclear or conventional warhead "would depend upon the circumstances." Fernandes noted the Agni-2 was rail mobile and could be deployed to "rugged areas" on a "very compact system." With the single test flight, India has "reached the point of operationalization of the Agni-2 as a weapon system," Fernandes said.

    Reports in the Indian press offered some additional details about the missile. Unlike its predecessor, the two-stage solid-liquid Agni-1, the Agni-2 used two solid stages which would make the missile easier to deploy and keep ready for launch on short notice. The Agni-2 may also be highly accurate. Flight control was claimed to have been aided by an on-board computer using information from global positioning system (GPS) satellites. The 1,500 to 2,000-kilometer-range Agni-1, which New Delhi has consistantly labled as a technology demonstration project, reportedly uses an on-board computer for terminal guidance of a separating reentry vehicle. India last tested the Agni-1 in February 1994.

    Pakistan's Response

    Responding to the Agni-2 test—despite international pleas for restraint—Islamabad test-fired its Ghauri-2 missile on April 14 and its Shaheen-1 missile on April 15. A statement from Islamabad on April 14 claimed the missile tests "strengthened national security and will help in maintaining a strategic balance in South Asia." The Ghauri-2 was tested to a range of 1,400 kilometers, but Pakistan claims the missile has a range of 2,000 kilometers and can fly up to 2,300 kilometers if its 1,000-kilogram payload is reduced. The technical differences between the Ghauri-1 and -2 remain unclear.

    According to another U.S. official, however, there may not actually be a Ghauri-2 missile at all. Based on images of the tested missile, the profile of the flight test and the specifics offered in Islamabad's initial announcement of the test, the missile fired may have actually been a Ghauri-1. When asked for a rationale, the official suggested Islamabad was probably trying to maintain the appearance of keeping pace with the range of India's Agni-2. Pakistan last tested the 1,500-kilometer-range Ghauri-1 in April 1998. Following that test, the United States imposed sanctions on Pakistan and North Korea, claiming the Ghauri-1 was derived from the liquid-fueled 1,300-kilometer-range Nodong missile.

    The Shaheen-1 was tested to a reported range of 600 kilometers, but is claimed to be capable of traveling 750 kilometers with a 1,000-kilogram payload. The road-mobile solid-fuel Shaheen is believed to utilize technology from China. According to the Pakistani newspaper The News, the Shaheen-1 is meant to counter India's Prithvi missiles. Pakistan has said it is prepared to test its 2,300-kilometer-range Shaheen-2 missile, but that with the Shaheen-1 test it has completed its current missile testing activities.

    India, Pakistan Agree on Security, Confidence-Building Measures

    Howard Diamond

    NINE MONTHS after their nuclear tests raised fears of an uncontrolled arms race in South Asia, India and Pakistan agreed to a series of security and confidence-building measures following a meeting of their prime ministers in Lahore, Pakistan, February 20–21. Embodied in the Lahore Declaration and its accompanying documents are steps to reduce the risks of a nuclear exchange prompted by an accident or misinterpretation of a nuclear or ballistic missile test.

    Although India and Pakistan have adopted—and largely ignored—confidence-building measures in the past, the new arrangements may prove more effective in promoting trust while leaving the path for nuclear and missile deployments unobstructed.

    Noting in the Lahore Declaration the additional responsibilities imposed by their newly explicit nuclear status, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif agreed to intensify their bilateral security dialogue and elevate the talks to the foreign minister level. Since their May 1998 nuclear tests, India and Pakistan have held several bilateral meetings on regional security issues such as Kashmir—most recently at the foreign secretary level in October—without much apparent progress.

    The Lahore meeting resulted from a February 3 invitation by Sharif, who invited Vajpayee to Pakistan to mark the initiation of cross-border bus service between New Delhi and Lahore. The meeting enabled the two sides to improve relations by acknowledging each other as nuclear-weapon states—a step the rest of the world has refused to take—and by beginning to establish a stable deterrent relationship.

    Yet finding an equilibrium in India and Pakistan's nuclear relations may prove difficult, as both nations are planning to test and deploy new ballistic missile systems. Islamabad is reportedly ready for a second test of its 1,300-kilometer-range Ghauri missile, as well as a first flight test of its new 750-kilometer-range solid-fuel Shaheen missile. Similarly, although New Delhi has allegedly twice postponed test flights of its 1,500-kilometer-range Agni missile, it still plans to proceed with development of the Agni-II, which has a reported range of 3,500 kilometers.

    Accompanying the prime ministers' declaration was a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed by Indian Foreign Secretary K. Raghunath and his Pakistani counterpart Shamshad Ahmed, which emphasized measures to improve nuclear security and prevent an accidental nuclear exchange. Agreeing to resolve remaining "technical details" in bilateral agreements by mid-1999, New Delhi and Islamabad committed to several steps to reduce the nuclear danger on the subcontinent.

    First, the two sides agreed to exchange information on their nuclear doctrines and security concepts. Speaking to reporters, Ahmed said the exchange of information would include data on numbers of nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles as well as deployment information. But with both sides still developing their nuclear arsenals and doctrines, the scope and the level of detail in the data exchanges remain unclear.

    Regional media had speculated prior to the prime ministers' meeting on the possibility of a formal no-first-use agreement or a commitment not to target nuclear facilities or population centers. With the two sides' nuclear doctrines still in flux, however, no such agreements were reached.

    To prevent accidental nuclear crises, the MOU called for advance notification of ballistic missile test flights and prompt notification of "any accidental, unauthorized, or unexplained incident" regarding nuclear weapons. It also called for each nation to work on measures to improve control over its nuclear weapons. Finally, the MOU recommended reviews of existing confidence-building measures and emergency communications (hotlines) arrangements "with a view to upgrading and improving these links."

    The MOU strengthened India's and Pakistan's unilateral moratoriums on nuclear testing by making their commitments binding "unless either side…decides that extraordinary events have jeopardized its supreme interests." Both nations have also said they are prepared to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty before September of this year. A spokesman for Pakistan's foreign ministry was quoted in the February 21 Washington Post as saying that Islamabad will "sign [the CTB Treaty] and adhere to it by September." Indian Minister of External Affairs Jaswant Singh, while denying on February 24 that India had already committed to signing the treaty, reiterated New Delhi's willingness to sign pending success in negotiations with "key interlocutors" like the United States.

    The next meeting of Indian and Pakistani officials will be in late March or early April, at the foreign secretary level, according to Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz. Aziz has said he would likely meet with Singh within a month of those talks.

    U.S. Waives Many Test-Related Sanctions on India, Pakistan

    CITING PROGRESS in addressing U.S. non-proliferation concerns, the Clinton administration announced on November 6 its intention to use new waiver authority to lift many of the sanctions imposed on India and Pakistan following their nuclear tests in May. Noting both states' moratoriums on nuclear testing, pledges to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty, commitments to strengthen export controls, and support for negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty, a senior administration official said that President Clinton had decided to use the one-time, one-year waiver authority to create a better environment for negotiations to reduce the nuclear danger in South Asia.

    The waiver, which took effect on December 1, will allow the resumption of trade support by U.S. government entities such as the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and will lift restrictions on lending by private U.S. banks. Additionally, the United States will renew military-to-military contacts through the Defense Department's International Military Education and Training program. To prevent Islamabad from slipping into default, the administration will also support a one-time, $5.5 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package for Pakistan.

    The administration did not, however, lift the general ban on support for lending to India and Pakistan by international financial institutions like the IMF and the World Bank. Nor did it agree to resume the sale of military or munitions list items, which were not included in the waiver authority.

    U.S. diplomatic efforts have been led by Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, who in November conducted his seventh round of talks with Pakistani Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmed and separately with Indian special envoy (and now Minister of External Affairs) Jaswant Singh. In a November 12 speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Talbott listed five "practical steps" to prevent a nuclear arms race and reduce tensions in South Asia. In addition to signing the CTB Treaty, Talbott also called on both governments to stop producing fissile material for weapons purposes, limit development of ballistic missiles and deployment of nuclear-capable aircraft, begin a "high-level, frequent and, above all, productive dialogue" on bilateral security issues and tighten export controls on nuclear and missile technology.

    While both countries announced in September their willingness to sign the CTB Treaty before September 1999, neither has embraced U.S. suggestions regarding a fissile material production moratorium or limits on ballistic missile development.

    India and Pakistan have held several rounds of bilateral talks on security issues, most recently in Islamabad from October 15 to 18. Despite adopting a substantive agenda that included the divisive issue of Kashmir, the talks failed to make much progress, as both sides reiterated familiar positions. The next round of bilateral talks is scheduled for February 1999.

    An interagency group of U.S. officials held meetings in India and Pakistan on November 9–10 and 11–12, respectively, on ways to improve each country's system of export controls. Washington is urging both countries to adhere to the Nuclear Suppliers Group and Missile Technology Control Regime standards. Pakistani Foreign Minister Sataj Aziz announced on December 13 that nuclear export control legislation was being prepared for cabinet consideration. Speaking to both houses of Parliament on December 15, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said, "we are taking steps to make more stringent our laws" regarding sensitive technology sales.

    India, Pakistan Commit to Sign CTB Treaty by September 1999

    SPEAKING AT the United Nations on September 23 and 24, respectively, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said their nations were prepared to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty prior to September 1999. While both states declared unilateral moratoriums on nuclear testing following their nuclear tests in May, the international community, and especially the United States, have pressured Islamabad and New Delhi to sign the CTB without conditions or delay. The speeches at the opening of the UN General Assembly are the most explicit commitments to signing the treaty that either leader has made to date.

    Sharif, referring to the Conference of States Parties that may be convened in September 1999 if the treaty's entry into force provisions have not been met, stated that "Pakistan is…prepared to adhere to the CTBT before this Conference."

    Sharif insisted, however, that "Pakistan's adherence to the Treaty will take place only in conditions free from coercion or pressure." He cited "restrictions imposed on Pakistan by multilateral [financial] institutions" and the "discriminatory sanctions" of the 1985 Pressler amendment, which precludes U.S. military assistance or sales to Pakistan as long as the president cannot certify that it does not have a "nuclear explosive device."

    Vajpayee, noting that India is engaged "with key interlocutors on a range of issues, including the CTB," said that India was "prepared to bring those discussions to a successful conclusion, so that the entry into force of the CTBT is not delayed…." Of the 44 nations whose ratification is necessary for the treaty to enter into force, only India, Pakistan and North Korea have failed to sign the treaty.

    Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gave a modest endorsement to the two UN speeches, stating on September 24 that the commitments to the CTB were "important steps," but noting that "there are many steps that still need to be taken." On September 30, White House spokesman Mike McCurry confirmed that President Clinton had decided to postpone his planned trip to South Asia indefinitely. Clinton is "still eager to make the visit when we have had further significant progress with our respective security concerns," said McCurry.

    The administration, which imposed sanctions mandated by U.S. law on the two South Asian states, has been holding bilateral meetings with both countries since July. The United States is pushing India and Pakistan to adopt an international agenda that includes regional arms control proposals and measures to support the global non-proliferation regime, such as signing the CTB and participating in negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty.

    In return, New Delhi and Islamabad have insisted that U.S. and international sanctions be dropped. India is also reported to be pressing Washington to remove restrictions on exports of dual-use technology. Specifically, New Delhi would like access to nuclear power and space technologies currently controlled by the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime.

    Eager to develop its space and civil nuclear power sectors for economic reasons, New Delhi also wishes to be recognized as a nuclear-weapon state, entitled to commerce in sensitive technologies with the other nuclear powers. Pakistan, meanwhile, is said to be inquiring about future military sales and assistance to help redress its conventional military imbalance with India.

    Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott is expected to hold a new round of meetings with Pakistani Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmed on November 4 and with the Indian prime minister's special envoy, Jaswant Singh, on November 19. Chances for progress in the talks may have improved following adoption into law on October 21 of a one-year waiver authority for the test-related sanctions. The waiver, which would allow the president to suspend all of the non-military-related sanctions, could give the Clinton administration the bargaining flexibility needed to produce a deal.

    India, Pakistan May Be Moving Toward CTBT

    Recent moves by Indian and Pakistani leaders suggest that the two South Asian nations, which conducted tit-for-tat nuclear tests in May, are edging toward signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes told the BBC Hindi service on September 7 that India would sign the treaty if it were recognized as a nuclear power. A senior official in the prime minister's office was cited by The Times of India on September 9 as saying, "We believe that adhering to the CTBT will not jeopardize our security concerns." In Pakistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government on September 11 called a joint session of parliament to debate signing the CTBT, a move that may reflect a government decision to sign the test ban.

    Driving the Indian and Pakistani governments is the weight of international sanctions imposed following the two countries' nuclear tests of May 11 and 13 and May 28 and 30, respectively. Indian officials have told reporters that in return for signing the CTBT, New Delhi expects the removal of these sanctions, as well as the lifting of Nuclear Suppliers Group and Missile Technology Control Regime restrictions on India's purchases of nuclear and missile technology. Islamabad's signature of the test ban may come more easily, as Pakistan is in desperate need of international economic assistance that is being withheld as a consequence of the May tests.

    Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott has led U.S. efforts to persuade the two South Asian states to adhere to an international arms control agenda that includes signing the test ban. The Clinton administration, which imposed sanctions required by U.S. law after the two sets of tests, has been supporting congressional efforts to provide presidential waiver authority for the sanctions in order to enhance the administration's negotiating flexibility.

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