[Answered] Acquiring the optimum degree of nuclear deterrence is imperative for India, given its distinctive spectrum of security and strategic challenges. Examine and highlight the significance of the Arihant SLBM, in this regard.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain why acquiring the optimum degree of nuclear deterrence is imperative for India.  Also write some significance of the Arihant SLBM, in this regard.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Nuclear Deterrence is a military doctrine according to which the possibility that a country will use the nuclear weapons it possesses in retaliation, which deter an enemy from attacking. For India, nuclear weapons are not weapons of war and their sole purpose is to deter the use of nuclear weapons by India’s adversaries.

Why nuclear deterrence is imperative for India?

  • Rogue nations or states like North Korea have developed nuclear weapons after cold war.
  • Pakistan continues to expand the size of its nuclear arsenal, including with the Nasr platform.
  • As the world has entered into the phase of a new Cold War between US and China, the chances of nuclear conflict has again resurfaced.
  • Threat of “second-strike capability” keeps countries from engaging in nuclear warfare.
  • Further, as nuclear capabilities grow and inter-state trust diminishes, chances of stumbling into nuclear war are high.
  • Industrial revolution 4.0 has blurred the lines between conventional and nuclear delivery. For example, advancing capabilities of cyberattacks on nuclear command and control, incorporation of artificial intelligence in nuclear decision making are new developments that threaten to create unknown risks.

Recently, Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that the indigenous Strategic Strike Nuclear Submarine INS Arihant had successfully launched a nuclear capable Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) in the Bay of Bengal. It is India’s first indigenous nuclear powered ballistic missile capable submarine. The significance of the Arihant SLBM is as follows:

  • These submarines can survive a first strike by the adversary. Then, it can also launch a strike in retaliation, thus achieving ‘Credible Nuclear Deterrence’.
  • A robust, survivable and assured retaliatory capability will strengthen India’s ‘no first use’ commitment.
  • The development of these capabilities is important in the light of India’s relations with China and Pakistan. As PLA Navy currently operates 6 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs).
  • China has deployed many nuclear powered and nuclear capable submarines.

Way forward:

  • In states possessing nuclear weapons, civil society actors can challenge the most expansive and dangerous ideas that extend nuclear deterrence objectives to absurd ends.
  • India should maintain its NFU (no-first-use) doctrine, as it has helped India in gaining many benefits at international level.
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