India — India’s Nuclear Dilemma

A high­ly cere­bral for­mer Vice Chief of the Army reflects upon the recent intro­duc­tion of Nasr Tac­ti­cal Nuclear Mis­siles by the Pak Army. He feels this con­sti­tutes a par­a­digm shift which calls for a rethink­ing of our nuclear and con­ven­tion­al warfight­ing Doc­trines. Pak­istan has enough land based mis­siles to car­ry out such a first strike by launch­ing Tac­ti­cal Nuclear Weapons, either as a demon­stra­tive one or on a tac­ti­cal tar­get to inflict suf­fi­cient dam­age to own troops and con­cen­tra­tions which are pure­ly mil­i­tary in nature and thus be termed as Counter Troop. In all like­li­hood such a strike would be on Indi­an soil but be termed as defen­sive. He feels that the cur­rent Indi­an doc­tri­nal posi­tion of a full fledged Indi­an counter val­ue response to such tac­ti­cal nuclear use may not be viable. He rec­om­mends instead a match­ing response with own tac­ti­cal war­heads which will enable own con­ven­tion­al offen­sives to pro­ceed apace.

This arti­cle is pub­lished with the kind per­mis­sion of “Defence and Secu­ri­ty Alert (DSA) Mag­a­zine” New Del­hi-India

Defence and Security Alert (DSA

 -

In May 1998 India and Pak­istan car­ried out nuclear explo­sions in their respec­tive coun­tries and in the face of great oppro­bri­um of many coun­tries declared them­selves as new ‘nuclear weapon’ pow­ers. Soon the think tanks of both coun­tries start­ed their delib­er­a­tions to evolve nuclear doc­trines suit­ed to their strate­gic needs. India declared a pol­i­cy of NO FIRST USE while Pak­istan made no such com­mit­ment and remained ambigu­ous, with a stat­ed posi­tion that India has a much larg­er con­ven­tion­al force and could over­whelm Pak­istan Forces in a con­ven­tion­al war; hence Pak­istan may / will resort to FIRST USE if need­ed. This in essence implied that India will not use nuclear weapons first but if the oth­er side chose to do so India will retal­i­ate ful­ly to the extent nec­es­sary. Both sides since then steadi­ly built up their nuclear stock­pile and today by some edu­cat­ed esti­mates Pak­istan has much larg­er a nuclear arse­nal than India and in fact has emerged as the fifth largest coun­try behind USA, Rus­sia, Chi­na and France.

This con­cept or doc­trine remained valid till such time both sides had strate­gic nuclear weapons of large yields, rang­ing upwards of 20 Kilo­ton and above. This also meant that such weapons will essen­tial­ly be COUNTER VALUE because of the inevitable col­lat­er­al dam­age and not like­ly to remain con­fined to COUNTER FORCE. With induc­tion of Tac­ti­cal Nuclear Weapons how­ev­er by Pak­istan, there is a par­a­digm shift which needs to be artic­u­lat­ed.

Tac­ti­cal nuclear weapon refers to a weapon designed to be used in bat­tle­field in a mil­i­tary sit­u­a­tion as opposed to Strate­gic Weapons which are designed to men­ace large pop­u­la­tion. In oth­er words, the for­mer is meant to be used pri­mar­i­ly against ene­my forces while the lat­ter counter val­ue, meant for tar­gets which may include civil­ian objec­tives like pop­u­la­tion cen­tres. Tac­ti­cal nuclear weapons were a large part of World’s nuclear stock­pile dur­ing the Cold War and still con­sti­tute a size­able num­ber with USA and Rus­sia and per­haps oth­ers.

A size­able group of strate­gic thinkers main­tain that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A TACTICAL NUCLEAR WEAPON because once a nuclear weapon has been launched by any side regard­less of its size and yield it is “open sea­son” there­after and the adver­sary is free to use its strate­gic weapons in a counter val­ue mode

It was Robert Mc Nama­ra, the great strate­gic Amer­i­can thinker and once The Defence Sec­re­tary of USA who first artic­u­lat­ed the con­cept of counter force strat­e­gy pub­licly in 1962 when he said that “Com­plete destruc­tion of cities etc. would ulti­mate­ly lead to a Mutu­al­ly Assured Destruc­tion sit­u­a­tion. Instead cities can be held hostages; to destroy them at the out­set was to sac­ri­fice their prin­ci­pal val­ue as object of lever­age against the ene­my. If War comes, USA will destroy enemy’s mil­i­tary forces and not his civil­ian pop­u­la­tion.” This con­cept led to the devel­op­ment of tac­ti­cal nuclear weapons which enabled the pow­er using them to con­fine the pro­posed strike to ene­my troops and mate­r­i­al with­out a risk of major col­lat­er­al dam­age to civil­ian pop­u­la­tion.

Use of tac­ti­cal nuclear weapons can be Coun­ter­force or Demon­stra­tive to show the will and deter­mi­na­tion of the user to use larg­er yield nuclear weapons against strate­gic tar­gets if nec­es­sary. The deploy­ing of tac­ti­cal nuclear weapons is how­ev­er fraught with risk of esca­la­tion quick­ly, par­tic­u­lar­ly with the side hav­ing no self-imposed restrain of NO FIRST USE. Sus­pi­cion of the adversary’s inten­tion can lead to an ear­ly launch of a weapon because of the syn­drome of -“He thinks, we think, he thinks we think; he thinks we will attack, so he thinks we shall: SO WE MUST”. It is fur­ther accen­tu­at­ed if the releas­ing author­i­ty is del­e­gat­ed to sub­or­di­nate com­man­ders instead of being retained in the hands of a cen­tral author­i­ty.

A size­able group of strate­gic thinkers main­tain that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A TACTICAL NUCLEAR WEAPON because once a nuclear weapon has been launched by any side regard­less of its size and yield it is “open sea­son” there­after and the adver­sary is free to use its strate­gic weapons in a counter val­ue mode. The dis­cus­sion has gone on not only in India but in many of the advanced coun­tries hav­ing nuclear weapons where many sub­scribe to the idea that tac­ti­cal nuclear weapons have no place in the dialec­tics of nuclear weapons. The writer does NOT sub­scribe to this with any degree of con­vic­tion.

 -

Pak­istan nuclear doc­trine

Now let us look briefly at Pak­istan nuclear arse­nal. By some guessti­mate Pak­istan has approx­i­mate­ly 90 to 120 war­heads with ade­quate num­ber of deliv­ery sys­tems in the shape of air­craft and dif­fer­ent vari­eties of nuclear capa­ble mis­siles includ­ing the lat­est Sha­heen I and Sha­heen II. Besides they have devel­oped / been gift­ed cruise mis­siles Babur and Raad which are nuclear capa­ble. With enhanced capac­i­ty of pro­duc­tion of weapon grade plu­to­ni­um they are in a posi­tion to add four to six war­heads every year to their stock­pile. To these the lat­est vec­tor which has been added is a Tac­ti­cal Mis­sile Sys­tem Nasr which Pak­istan claims is nuclear capa­ble. This mis­sile has been test­ed dur­ing a recent exer­cise by Pak forces. Obvi­ous­ly this also implies that they have in all like­li­hood, car­ried out minia­tur­i­sa­tion of the nuclear sys­tems to be fit­ted into The Nasr Mis­sile which are claimed to be high­ly mobile and vehi­cle mount­ed. Fur­ther, because of its com­par­a­tive­ly small­er size and mobil­i­ty would be easy to con­ceal which becomes vital in today’s bat­tle­field which is becom­ing more and more trans­par­ent. This sys­tem, pure­ly by def­i­n­i­tion would fall in the cat­e­go­ry of tac­ti­cal nuclear weapon.

Pak­istan has stat­ed with­out any ambi­gu­i­ty that their nuclear arse­nal is sole­ly India spe­cif­ic. Fur­ther they have repeat­ed­ly empha­sised that they will resort to nuclear weapons should their core inter­ests be threat­ened which include a num­ber of para­me­ters of space, sur­vival of mil­i­tary forces and eco­nom­ic block­ade.

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →