Why India went nuclear 25 years ago

Source: The post is based on the article “Why India went nuclear 25 years ago” published in the Indian Express on 15th May 2023.

Syllabus: GS – 3: indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Relevance: About India’s nuclear test.

News: This year marks the 25th year of Pokhran nuclear test.

About the Pokhran nuclear test

India carried out a series of three nuclear detonations. These included a 45 KT (kiloton) thermonuclear device, a 15 KT fission device and a 0.2 sub KT device.  India declared itself a nuclear weapon state on May 11, 1998. A second test followed two days later and having attained the requisite degree of techno-strategic capability. Following that, India announced a self-imposed moratorium on further testing.

The US denounced India for refusing to be bounded as a non-nuclear weapon state under the strictures of the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty). The US and most of its allies imposed sanctions on India. South Asia was described as the “most dangerous” place in the world and humiliation was poured on India.

Read more: India nuclear regime after Pokhran-II Nuclear test

Why India became a nuclear power?

China as nuclear power: China acquired its nuclear weapon in October 1964 to address its insecurity in relation to the US and the former USSR.

China – Pakistan coalition: Soon, in the mid-1960s, China and Pakistan entered into an opaque strategic partnership focused on nuclear weapons to advance their shared security interests that were hostile to India. Pakistani scientists who had access to Western nuclear technology shared their designs and blueprints with their Chinese counterparts.

Experts maintain that Pakistan acquired the nuclear weapon in the late 1980s, courtesy to China. This enabled a secret test to validate the warhead design in Lop Nor in May 1990.

Read more: Aligning the triad: On India’s nuclear deterrence

How does India view a nuclear-powered state?

The US and USSR in the Cold War envisaged nuclear power as a counterforce strategy. But, India, on the other hand, sees the nuclear weapon has a single purpose — the core mission — to deter the use of a similar capability. This is visible in India’s No First Use policy.

At a time when the nuclear policies of other countries rattling and becoming more pronounced, India’s commitment to pristine deterrence and nuclear restraint should remain persistent.

India’s nuclear policy aids the extended southern Asian region and brings China and Pakistan to the negotiation table. This will be a test of Indian acumen.

Read more: ‘No First Use’ nuclear policy depends on circumstances: Rajnath Singh

What should be done?

The introduction of the CDS (chief of defence staff) is a work in progress. So, the civil-military command and control needs to be regularly reviewed and simulation exercises conducted.

The role of the Defence Minister in the Indian nuclear ladder needs to be reviewed as part of the rewiring of the higher defence management pyramid.

Read more: India’s nuclear doctrine after 25 years of Pokhran – Explained, pointwise  
Print Friendly and PDF