Should India Revise its Nuclear Doctrine?
Policy Briefs

Should India Revise its Nuclear Doctrine?

APLN Policy Brief 18

The following is a summary. Click on the adjacent link to download the full brief.

India’s nuclear position is unique in two ways. First, in view of the restraint shown by India in demonstrating its capability in 1974 but going nuclear after nearly a quarter century in 1998, and secondly, as the only nuclear-armed state that remains committed to abolition of nuclear weapons as stated policy. India’s nuclear doctrine is a work in progress. The last authoritative public pronouncement was in 2003, and that 250-word document is part doctrine and part nuclear policy. While some countries have chosen to adopt an opaque policy, as a democracy India chose to go public with its doctrine, both to explain the rationale for its decision and also to reassure its own public. Its doctrine is based on a ‘credible minimum deterrent’ which is still being developed along with other related capabilities and infrastructure. While the basic elements of the doctrine are sound and form a coherent whole, in order to convey credibility and assurance, the doctrine should be reviewed and updated periodically to take into account regional and global developments. Although no major revisions to the doctrine are necessary at present, the exercise of periodic reviews will subject the doctrine to a rigorous analysis so that its credibility is reaffirmed and the Indian public is reassured. Furthermore, it will strengthen the relevant institutions and ensure that India’s nuclear policy reflects a broad political consensus.

About the Author

Rakesh Sood served in India’s Foreign Service and was India’s Ambassador to Nepal, Afghanistan and France and the country’s first Ambassador in charge of Disarmament in Geneva. He was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Special Envoy for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (2013–14) before retirement. He was Joint Secretary Disarmament and International Security Affairs, a division that he set up and headed from 1992 to 2000.


Image: Wikimedia Commons.

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