The strategic concept of deterrence aims to prevent war. It is the justification virtually every nuclear state uses for maintaining nuclear arsenals.
- The concept of deterrence can be defined as the use of threats by one party to convince another party to refrain from initiating some course of action.
- The concept of nuclear deterrence follows the rationale of the ‘first user’ principle.
- States reserve the right to use nuclear weapons in self-defence against an armed attack threatening their vital security interests.
- Possession of nuclear weapons could be seen as the ultimate bargaining tool in international diplomacy under such concept.
Issues concerning India’s deterrence capabilities
- Modest ballistic profile of SLBM Launched: this is evident from the characteristics associated with the 6,000-ton INS Arihant.
- It is reportedly fitted with the K -15 SLBM, which has a range of 750 km and this would be classified as a short-range missile.
- Slow progress: India has made slow but steady progress in its missile programme, nuclear weapon capability, the nuclear submarine and more recently the building of an aircraft carrier.
- But all these capabilities remain a “work-in-progress”.
- Handicapped carrier: The indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier (INS Vikrant) is handicapped by not having the appropriate fighter aircraft and an SSBN whose ICBM capability is some years away.
But in modern time, it has very limited usage against contemporary security threats:
- State are more connected today by economy, so attacking one country might lead to economical harmful for the same attacker country.
- Today cyber threat can be more harmful to another country without resorting to bloodbath.
- Nuclear weapons create insecurity and disbelief among the common citizen.
- The world has seen the effect of Nuclear weapons. And therefore hesitate in using this.
- The resources used in making and maintaining Nuclear weapons are futile and can be used for health,education,fighting climate changes etc for underprivileged.
- It gives huge power in the hand of few people to destroy the entire humanity for ever.
Emerging challenges in water:
- US-China contestation: Currently, the global geopolitical domain is in a state of flux and the US-China contestation amongst other issues will roil the waters.
- Ukraine war: The outcome of the war in Ukraine and the orientation of the Delhi-Moscow relationship will have a bearing on India’s strategic programmes.
- Thus, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that India is in a “complex chrysalis phase” as far as the maritime domain is concerned.
- Arm the INS Arihant with a 3,500 km missile IRBM (intermediate-range ballistic missile).
- At the next stage arm its SSBN with a missile whose range is in excess of 5,000 km — which would qualify as an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile).
That is the stage when India would be deemed to have acquired the requisite level of strategic capability to “validate the SSBN programme, a key element of India’s nuclear deterrence capability.
What is India’s ballistic missile submarine programme?
- India’s nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) programme is a closely guarded project.
- INS Arihant was the first boat under the SSBN project followed by another boat, INS Arighat.
- SSBN programme is a key element of India’s nuclear deterrence capability.
- SSBN’s are those classes of submarines which can go deep beneath the ocean making them virtually undetectable for months, they also carry nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles.
Success in expanding the middle ground between nuclear disarmament and nuclear deterrence will require the same ambition and idealism that drove the conclusion of the nuclear prohibition treaty.
- It will require innovation and perseverance to identify and promote mechanisms to reduce risks of nuclear use.
- It will require building trust that states and civil society actors on either side of the debate share the objective of mutual security.
- The relationship between the ban treaty and other treaties such as the NPT, the CTBT (Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty), and nuclear weapon-free zone treaties, has to be clearly specified.