India’s nuclear program began in 1948, just a year after independence. The Nehru government saw nuclear power as an inexpensive source of energy for a young country. In the same year, the Indian Atomic Energy Commission was established to oversee the country’s nuclear efforts. Due to the lack of uranium in Indian territory, the country naturally gravitated toward using plutonium instead. The first nuclear reactor in India, Apsara, was built with the help of the United Kingdom and reached critical power in August 1956.
Initially, New Delhi viewed the construction of nuclear devices not as weapons, but as what was then called “peaceful nuclear explosives,” which can be used to build harbors, produce natural gas in other major construction and mining projects. Although this plan is functionally identical to creating nuclear weapons, it demonstrated that India is not convinced of the need for real nuclear deterrence. As one of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement, India has witnessed the hectic pace of the nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union.
However, the 1962 war with China changed everything. A limited attack on Indian territory could be much worse if both countries were involved in a total war, especially if Pakistan and China united together. Moreover, although China was not yet a nuclear power, its nuclear status was considered inevitable, and Beijing could blackmail India, demanding territorial concessions under the threat of nuclear destruction. In New Delhi, launched a nuclear arms race.
The first nuclear test of India was conducted on May 18, 1974 at the Pokran training ground in the Rajasthan desert. The device, nicknamed the “Smiling Buddha”, had an explosive power of six to fifteen kilotons (the Hiroshima device is usually estimated at sixteen kilotons). The test was conducted in an underground mine. India described the test as peaceful in nature, but China’s nuclear status achieved in 1964 meant that it was almost certainly conceived as a weapon.
This test led India to the so-called Nuclear Club, which previously consisted of the United States, Soviet Union, Great Britain, France, and China. India refrained from nuclear testing for another twenty-four years, until on May 11, 1998, three devices were detonated, and on May 13, three more. Most of the devices had low power from two hundred to five hundred tons, which suggested that they were designed as tactical nuclear bombs, but one device was thermonuclear, which failed, although it reached an explosion power of about forty-five kilotons.
Today, India is estimated to have at least 520 kilograms of plutonium, sufficient, according to the Arms Control Association, “for the production of 100 to 120 nuclear devices.” and this a “reliable minimum deterrent” against the neighboring nuclear powers of China and Pakistan. In comparison, China, which also has to deal with a nuclear rival from the United States, has enough missile material to develop 200-250 devices. Pakistan is believed to have an arsenal of 110 to 130 nuclear devices. India firmly adheres to the policy of not using nuclear weapons first, promising to never use them first in any conflict and use them only as a retaliatory strike.
As a result, India has created its own trial of land, sea and air forces equipped with nuclear weapons. The first stage of development was tactical nuclear devices for attack aircraft of the Indian Air Force. Today, India has more than two hundred twin-engine Su-30MKI fighters, sixty-nine MiG-29 fighters and fifty-one Mirage-2000 fighters and the new dassult rafale .Some of these aircraft were modified and trained to carry nuclear gravity bombs.
The ground-based missile segment of the triad consists of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. So, launched in the late 1990s, the Prithvi rocket initially had a range of only ninety-three miles, but its subsequent versions increased the range to 372 miles. Despite this, Prithvi is still a tactical weapon, while the Agni I-V missiles with a range of 434 to 5000 miles are strategic weapons capable of hitting foreign capitals, including all of mainland China.
The third branch of the triad is new, consisting of atomic ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) Arihant class. It is planned to build four submarines, each of which can carry twelve short-range ballistic missiles K-15 Sagarik with a flight range of 700 km or medium-range ballistic missiles K-4 with a flight range of 3500 km. Using the Bay of Bengal as a bastion and protected by assets such as the Indian aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, missiles from Arihant class submarines can hardly reach Beijing.
India had made its Nuclear Doctrine in 2003 and the characteristics of India’s Nuclear Doctrine are as follows;
1. The basic principle of India’s nuclear doctrine is “No First Use”. According to this policy, nuclear weapons will only be used in retaliation against a nuclear attack on the Indian Territory or on Indian forces anywhere.
2. India needs to build and maintain a Credible Minimum Deterrent. This includes;
(i). Sufficient and survivable nuclear forces to inflict unacceptable damage to the enemy.
(ii). Nuclear Forces must be operationally prepared at all times.
(iii). Effective Intelligence and Early Warning Capabilities.
(iv). Communication of Deterrence Capability to the ene
3. If a country invades India by a nuclear missile, its retaliation will be this much massive and terrible that the enemy experiences an unacceptable damage and would not be able to recover easily.
4. The right to take nuclear action against the enemy will only be taken by the elected representatives of the people, i.e. the political leadership of the country, although the cooperation of the Nuclear Command Authority will be necessary. In other words; the bureaucracy of India is not authorised to take the decision of the nuclear attack on the enemy.
5. Nuclear weapons will not be used against non-nuclear states. It means India believes in the theory of “Tit for tat.”
6. If there is any chemical or biological attack against India or Indian security forces, then India will keep the option of nuclear attack open in its response.
7. A continuance of strict controls on the export of nuclear and missile-related materials and technologies, participation in the fissile material Cutoff Treaty negotiations, and continued observance of the moratorium on nuclear tests.
8. India will continue to support the global initiative to create a nuclear-free world and will push forward the idea of discrimination-free nuclear disarmament.
The Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) comprises of an Executive Council and a Political Council. The Chairman of the Political Council is the Prime Minister. It is the sole body that can authorise the use of nuclear weapons.
The Executive Council is headed by the National Security Advisor (NSA). The Executive Council provides the inputs for the decision taken by the Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) and executes the instructions given to it by the Political Council.
It is true that only Prime Minister has the final authority to take a decision regarding the nuclear attack on the enemy. But despite having a secret code the Prime Minister can’t take the decision alone.
The Prime Minister can take the decision of attack by taking opinions from the following people/team;
1. Cabinet Committee on Security Affairs
2. National Security Advisor
3. Chairman of Chief of Staff Committee
The actual button to launch the nuclear weapon lies in the hands of the team which actually launches the nuclear missile.
Thus, the above-mentioned points make it clear that India’s Nuclear Doctrine is not meant to threaten or invade any country but to protect the sovereignty and boundaries of the country.