nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

India’s Nuclear Weapons

This Is Why the World Should Fear India’s Nuclear Weapons, National Interest, Kyle Mizokami, 28 May 17, India, the world’s most populous democracy, occupies a unique strategic position flanked by powerful adversaries. As a result, its 1.3 billion people are guarded by an arsenal of approximately one hundred nuclear weapons deployed on land, at sea and in the air. Despite its status as a Cold War holdout, the country was forced to develop its own nuclear weapons…….

Today India is estimated to have at least 520 kilograms of plutonium, enough for, according to the Arms Control Association, “between 100 and 120 nuclear devices.” New Delhi describes this a “credible minimum deterrent” against neighboring nuclear powers China and Pakistan. By comparison, China—which must also contend with nuclear rival the United States—has enough fissile material for between 200 and 250 devices. Pakistan is thought to have an arsenal of 110 to 130 devices. India has a firm No First Use policy with regards to nuclear weapons, vowing to never be the first to use them in any conflict and only use them to retaliate in kind.

As a result India has built its own “triad” of land, sea and air forces, all equipped with nuclear weapons. The first leg to develop was likely tactical nuclear devices for strike aircraft of the Indian Air Force. Today, India possesses more than two hundred Su-30MK1 twin-engine fighters, sixty-nine MiG-29s and fifty-one Mirage 2000 fighters. It is likely at least some of these aircraft have been modified and trained to carry nuclear gravity bombs to their targets.

The land-based missile leg of the triad consists of Prithvi tactical ballistic missiles. First produced in the late 1990s, Prithvi initially had a range of just ninety-three miles, but future versions increased their range to 372 miles. Despite this, Prithvi is still firmly a tactical weapon, while the Agni I-V series of missiles, with ranges from 434 to 4,970 miles, are strategic weapons with the ability to hit foreign capitals—as well as all of China.

The third leg of the triad is new, consisting of nuclear ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs) of the Arihant class. Four submarines are planned, each with the ability to carry twelve K-15 Sagarika (“Oceanic”) short-range ballistic missiles with maximum range of 434 miles, or K-4 medium-range ballistic missiles with a 2,174 mile range. Using the Bay of Bengal as a bastion and protected by assets such as India’s carrier INS Vikramaditya, the Arihant SSBNs can just barely reach Beijing.

India’s nuclear buildup has been relatively responsible, and the country’s No First Use policy should act to slow escalation of any conventional conflict into a nuclear one. As long as India’s nuclear deterrent remains credible, it should cause rational adversaries to think twice before edging to the nuclear threshold. Still, the country’s volatile relationship with Pakistan, which has no such policy, as well as its “Cold Start” blitzkrieg plan of action against its neighbor, means nuclear war cannot be ruled out.

 Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009 he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokamihttp://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/why-the-world-should-fear-indias-nuclear-weapons-20869
Advertisements

May 29, 2017 - Posted by | India, weapons and war

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: