How a nuclear ‘chain reaction’ and neighbourhood challenges led to India acquiring its n-weapons”

Source: The post is based on the article “How a nuclear ‘chain reaction’ and neighbourhood challenges led to India acquiring its n-weapons” published in “The Indian express” on 4th August 2023.

Syllabus: GS3- Security challenges

News: In this article author discusses J. Robert Oppenheimer’s regret over creating the atomic bomb. The article traces India’s nuclear journey, from Nehru’s early decisions to Vajpayee’s nuclear tests in 1998. Current global tensions around nuclear weapons are highlighted, with India’s role in promoting disarmament emphasized.

How did India evolve its nuclear power?

India’s Evolution of Nuclear Power:

Initial Approach:

Prime Minister Nehru was against atomic bombs but wanted nuclear power.

Dr. Homi J Bhabha was chosen to lead India’s nuclear program.

Reason for Development:

After China’s nuclear test in 1964, India felt the need for its own nuclear capabilities.

Early Testing:

India conducted its first nuclear test in 1974 under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

External Influences:

In 1985, US President Reagan informed Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi about Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities.

Rajiv Gandhi then began considering developing India’s own bomb.

Further Testing and Evolution:

Prime Minister Vajpayee oversaw nuclear tests in 1998.

These tests were a response to perceived threats from China.

Diplomatic Moves Post-Testing:

India engaged with the US, resulting in a strategic partnership involving technology cooperation.

What is India’s current stance on nuclear power?

India’s Current Stance on Nuclear Power:

Political Utility Emphasized:

After the 1998 tests, India highlighted the political benefits of its nuclear actions.

Despite international criticism, these tests boosted India’s strategic autonomy in decision-making.

Strategic Partnerships Formed:

Talks between Jaswant Singh and Strobe Talbott solidified the India-US relationship.

This led to the Indo-US nuclear deal, promoting cooperation in defense and technology sectors.

Promotion of Peace and Deterrence:

India’s nuclear weapons are primarily for deterrence.

In the 2019 Balakot surgical strike, even though India had nuclear capabilities, it opted for conventional warfare, ensuring peace.

Global Leadership in Disarmament:

Ahead of the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan emphasized a nuclear-free world.

As the G20 chair, India has the moral authority and opportunity to spearhead efforts in nuclear disarmament.

Overall, India maintains a careful balance between demonstrating its nuclear capabilities and promoting global peace.

What’s the Global Perspective on Nuclear Weapons?

Oppenheimer’s Remorse:

Oppenheimer regretted his role in creating the atomic bomb.

He believed it would end wars, but it started a US-USSR nuclear arms race.

Cold War Impact:

After the bombings in Japan, a nuclear race began, defining the Cold War era.

Current Tensions:

President Putin uses strong nuclear rhetoric regarding the Ukraine conflict.

India has voiced concerns over such aggressive postures.

Push for Disarmament:

Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, seeks a world without nuclear weapons.

India, being the G20 chair, can lead global disarmament initiatives.

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