India’s nuclear arsenal recently went up the sophistication curve

News: India’s nuclear capabilities have been strengthened recently due to new weapons testing. It has ignited debates around its implications for the regional stability. 

In the last months of 2021, India conducted 2 missile tests: 1) Shaurya hypersonic weapon test 2) Agni-P missile test. It has increased India’s sophisticated nuclear arsenal with greater diversity of delivery systems.  

Hypersonic weapons such as Shaurya are likely to be highly effective in taking out enemy early radars, static military installations such as airbases and command and control (C&C) facilities.  

Whereas, Agni-P missile capable of delivering multiple independent re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) or multiple warheads against a single target. 

Is it deteriorating strategic stability between India and Pakistan in the region? 

Some analysts are taking it as a shift from India’s no-first-use policy. However, India has not officially shifted its policy from no-first use but country’s operational posture has undergone a shift in the form of higher readiness levels. For example, ‘canisterization’ of India’s missiles of short, medium and long ranges enables their more rapid deployment.  

Some experts believe that it is leading to strategic instability in the region. Because India could launch a pre-emptive strike against Pakistan’s nuclear facilities in the heat of a crisis. 

However, no-first-use policy, combined with a higher degree of operational readiness of its nuclear tipped-missile forces provides India with nuclear deterrence against its two nuclear adversaries, China and Pakistan. 

How Pakistan’s policies are increasing the strategic instability?  

First, Experts overlook the fact that Pakistan has a larger nuclear arsenal than India’s and it has also not adopted a no-first-use policy.  

Second, Pakistan pursues an asymmetric escalation posture including development, deployment of tactical nuclear weapons and early use of atomic weapons. Which leaves India exposed to stand-off missile attacks. 

Third, Pakistan presumes that the tactical and strategic use of atomic weapons can be kept separate, is the real reason behind the instability. This decoupling has been rejected by India because there can be no real distinction between counter value and counterforce strikes. Because Pakistan’s military installments are not that distant from civilian settlements. 

As per Wikipedia, in military doctrine, Counter value is the targeting of an opponent’s assets that are of value but not actually a military threat, such as cities and civilian populations. Counterforce is the targeting of an opponent’s military forces and facilities. 


What are other reasons that justifies India’s preparedness? 

China has developed a significantly superior capabilities than India. It has deployed Dong-Feng (DF)-26 IRBMs in the Xinjiang region. India’s Shaurya hypersonic weapon is an equal response to it.  

India’s counter-force strike options are more effective against China then Pakistan. It is because China’s military settlements are distant from civilians. However, China’s submarine-based nuclear capabilities give it an invulnerable second-strike capability.  

Thus, India’s hypersonic and canisterized Agni SRBM and IRBM capabilities are steps in a right direction. 

Source: This post is created based on the article “India’s nuclear arsenal recently went up the sophistication curve” published in Live Mint on 11th Jan 2022. 

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