Nuclear deterrence and diplomacy in Indian context

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1. Nuclear diplomacy worldwide is in a state of flux. Nuclear deterrence is being overhauled to accommodate missile defence and arms control is facing a precedent challenge.

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The contemporary situation is very different from what the world faced two decades ago. As a non nuclear nation India had certain perspective on issues related to nuclear deterrence and arms control. It was not infatuated with nuclear deterrence since it was deemed integral to the existence and perpetuation of nuclear weapons, a reality that India abhorred and strove to change. India had come to realise in a few decades after independence that world wide arms control measures under the guise of non proliferation were meant to deny, restrain and limit its ability to move towards acquisition of nuclear weapons technology, material and arsenal. Indian diplomacy worked on this perspective to negate the impact of these controls to the extent possible and to further India’s interests at various international forums. It tried to reduce the negative impact of arms control measures directed to deny its legitimate capabilities for its security, while searching for more durable, universally accepted solutions to challenges posed by nuclear weapons. 2. On May 11 1998, India altered its formal nuclear status. This requires the country to cast a fresh look at both the operational and diplomatic dimensions of nuclear issue. As India is building a credible nuclear deterrent, its viewpoint and diplomacy on various issues of nuclear deterrence and diplomacy has changed over the years. After Pokhran II there was a need for nuclear India to project itself on the issues of deterrence strategy, arms control and disarmament in a coherent manner. The diplomatic projection however is critical since it plays an important role in enhancing the credibility of nuclear deterrence. Given the fact that India perceives a political role for its nuclear weapons and that deterrence is a mind game, the importance of this dimension cannot be undermined. 3. Indian nuclear diplomacy is tasked with the challenging responsibility of rationalising an operational nuclear deterrent with arms control en route to universal nuclear disarmament. It has become necessary to make an introspection of not the just the moral high ground but also the practical and security related issues of nuclearisation of the south east Asia, as well as the role India has to play in safeguarding its own interests while moving towards global nuclear disarmament. 4. This paper is an attempt to examine the factors responsible for changing India’s stance in finding greater prudence in accepting nuclear deterrence. This paper tries to search for the type of deterrence that would suit our aims and objectives over short and long term.



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