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– Alicia Sanders-Zakre
June 2, 2022
Nuclear Arms Control and India: A Relationship Explored
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Manpreet Sethi

India has spent the 12 years since its 1998 nuclear tests operationalizing “credible minimum deterrence.” This process has involved steps such as building a warhead stockpile, establishing robust command and control, and developing, testing, and deploying reliable delivery vehicles of requisite ranges. Amid this flurry of activity, nuclear arms control has hardly been on the minds of India’s policymakers.

Although this situation is not really surprising—no nuclear-weapon state at a similar stage of its nuclear life has behaved any differently—it is now time for a reassessment. By pursuing nuclear arms control, India could help itself and its nuclear-armed neighbors to increase nuclear stability while rationalizing its arms buildup. In so doing, India could clearly establish itself as a responsible state with nuclear weapons.

India, which has two nuclear-armed neighbors with whom it does not enjoy the best of relations, needs to explore nuclear arms control as a tool for stabilizing its nuclear relationships and enhancing strategic security. Nuclear arms control can be seen as a nuclear confidence-building measure. Although some rightly argue that confidence is an essential prerequisite for arms control, the idea offered here is that arms control agreements are more precise and specific than generic confidence-building measures and can be negotiated by two or more sides for particular objectives that all participants believe would increase the stability of their relationship. Hence, the chance of their success may be more than that of broad-based, general confidence-building measures.

However antagonistic or hostile its relationship may be with the adversary—in fact, the greater the hostility, the more it is necessary—India must explore and undertake steps that hold the promise of establishing strategic stability to enhance national security. This is easier said than done for at least three reasons.

•  The unfulfilled promises of nuclear confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan. Nuclear confidence-building measures were crafted soon after the nuclear tests by both nations in 1998. The bilateral memorandum of understanding signed in Lahore in early 1999 was very forward looking,[1] but the identified steps could never be taken because, within months of the memorandum, Pakistan had sent its army regulars dressed as mujahideen to seize Indian territory in Kargil. Confidence building since has been disrupted several times by acts of terrorism planned in Pakistan, often with the knowledge and support of government agencies such as the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence.

•  China’s nonacceptance of India as a state with nuclear weapons and hence its refusal to enter into any nuclear negotiations; and

•  India’s traditional aversion to arms control measures because it has perceived these as ineffective at best and discriminatory at worst, owing to the manner in which these measures have been crafted and enforced, especially in their multilateral forms. India often found itself a target or victim of nonproliferation treaties and export control and technology denial regimes. Given this experience, it is not surprising that the country has a largely negative perception of nuclear arms control and views it with skepticism and suspicion.

For these reasons, an attempt to identify areas of nuclear arms control that India can negotiate with its nuclear-armed neighbors cannot be expected to take off immediately or bear fruit quickly. Yet, because of the benefits that nuclear arms control could offer to India’s nuclear security, the relationship is worth exploring. Just as nuclear arms control has been used by the Soviet Union/Russia and the United States to rationalize their nuclear weapons stockpiles and deployments and to establish strategic stability in a balance of terror, so must India use it for bilateral and regional security.[2]

Until fortuitous circumstances bring about universal nuclear disarmament, it is certain that nuclear weapons will stay in India’s neighborhood. It is also fairly obvious that China, India, and Pakistan will steadily move toward their concept of credible deterrence through strategic modernization to acquire a mix of offensive and defensive capabilities depending on their threat perceptions. Every such step by one country will inevitably elicit a response from the other, as is normal in the game of nuclear deterrence. Consequently, as arsenals grow, capabilities increase, and infrastructures expand, so will the existential risks of unplanned or inadvertent escalation due to unintended use or a miscalculation. Such events could be triggered by improper judgment by the leadership at higher or lower levels or by the governments being involuntarily sucked into an offense-defense spiral. Some of these risks can be mitigated through national measures taken individually, but some must be handled in a reciprocal fashion. Coordinated nuclear arms control is one way of dealing with the situation.

For this to happen, India, as well as China and Pakistan, must recognize the need, rationale, and mechanics of nuclear arms control in bilateral and multilateral dimensions. This article makes the case from an Indian perspective for New Delhi to engage proactively in nuclear arms control to derive six specific benefits.

•  At the bilateral level, it would enable India to nudge the strategic stability architecture into a form that suits it best. Bilateral initiatives with China and Pakistan could enhance deterrence stability. If agreements could be formalized as treaties, they would carry the weight of law, making it easier to invoke international action in case of violations.

•  It would enhance security by moderating and limiting a conflict by constraining or proscribing certain classes of weapons or capabilities.

•  It would minimize existential dangers that normally accompany nuclear weapons by facilitating communication and fostering an understanding of each other’s nuclear strategies.

•  Multilateral nuclear arms control, such as through the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) or a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT), could be an effective tool for constraining capabilities of the adversaries.

•  It would help to avoid the nation being drawn into an arms race.[3]

•  Finally, for a country that has recently been granted an unprecedented exemption by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to participate in international nuclear commerce despite not being a member of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and without placing its nuclear program under full-scope safeguards, it would offer India a means of demonstrating responsible behavior to earn greater international respect and cooperation.[4]

The first section of the article defines the general purpose of nuclear arms control and highlights some of the principles that should guide the process, based on the experience of the Soviet Union and the United States during their long years of ideological confrontation. The second section emphasizes the role that the military must play in this exercise. (Arms control has traditionally been considered a preserve of the foreign policy establishment in India.) The last section offers some thoughts for bilateral nuclear arms control with China and Pakistan.

Purpose and Principles

After the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 and once the two superpowers had accepted the inevitability of having to live with the other’s nuclear arsenal, the focus shifted to undertaking serious negotiations to stabilize the nuclear stalemate. Arms control emerged out of this understanding as each country sought to target and limit the other’s capability while safeguarding its own through bilateral arms control agreements.

Seen from an Indian perspective, nuclear arms control must meet two primary objectives: establish strategic stability by constraining or proscribing the development of those weapons and systems that increase temptation for pre-emption due to the adversary’s acquisition of a unilateral advantage, and prevent an arms race by fostering better understanding of offense-defense linkages.

In contrast to the U.S.-Soviet history, substantial reductions in nuclear arsenals to ensure parity would not be an important objective of Indian nuclear arms control. Rather, given that ambiguity about numbers of warheads and delivery systems is considered essential for deterrence, a treaty devised for verified reductions right at the beginning would end up putting a stop to the process. Instead, the aim of nuclear arms control initiated by India should be to rein in development of weapon capabilities that could upset strategic stability, while accepting those that would enhance it. For instance, development and deployment of capabilities that enable counterforce targeting destabilize the nuclear equation by tempting pre-emption.[5] Yet, development of survivability measures is conducive to deterrence stability because it promises assured retaliation. The certainty of being able to inflict punishment even after suffering a nuclear attack liberates countries from the pressure of having to use their nuclear weapons early for fear of losing them to a first strike. This obviously improves stability and lowers chances of deterrence breakdown.

The defining parameters of a country’s nuclear arms control policy can be derived best from the national nuclear doctrine, which performs the task of outlining the force characteristics for credible deterrence by establishing the role of nuclear weapons in the national security strategy. For instance, Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine and strategy is premised on projecting a low nuclear threshold to deter the superior conventional military capability of India. Therefore, it is natural that Islamabad should seek to develop suitable nuclear war-fighting options that project the possibility of being able to conduct a counterforce first strike and then deter India’s nuclear retaliation by threatening a countervalue second strike. In following this approach, Pakistan subscribes to the argument that “a first strike that left only the option of a general attack on cities might be the functional equivalent of a disarming first strike because such a retaliation would be deterred by the prospect of the far greater costs that would ensue.”[6]

To counter this strategy, India’s objective should be to establish nuclear stability by reducing Pakistan’s temptation for nuclear pre-emption. Such a move would be in Pakistan’s interest as well because no rational decision-maker in Pakistan can believe that its first nuclear strike on India could be disarming, decapitating, or demoralizing enough to go without an Indian retaliation. Any Indian response, whether countervalue in keeping with the country’s nuclear doctrine of massive retaliation or a mix of counterforce and countervalue, would seriously degrade Pakistan as a functioning society and polity. Therefore, it is equally in Pakistan’s interest to adopt measures that increase deterrence stability.

This could be achieved by arriving at a nuclear arms control arrangement that consists either of mutual renunciation of first-strike weapons, such as use of low-yield nuclear weapons in a counterforce mode, or encouragement of measures that enhance the retaliatory capability of both countries. India’s nuclear doctrine, in fact, with its emphasis on not using nuclear weapons first, mandates the creation of a survivable nuclear capability. For instance, the triad, especially submarine-based deterrence, is being developed in this context, as are missile defenses. Misperceptions among the neighbors abound, however, making the task of nuclear arms control very daunting. That is precisely the challenge; it is obvious that disagreements and mistrust will threaten negotiations between rival countries. Such obstacles should not deter the exercise.

Rather, for nuclear arms control to overcome such obstacles and be meaningful and sustainable, negotiations must be conducted on the principles of equity of benefits, flexibility of approach, domestic acceptability of end results, and verifiability of agreed measures. They must be rooted in a general belief that an arms control agreement would lead to greater security of the parties involved. Unless all sides see these benefits for themselves, the negotiations cannot produce any worthwhile results and in fact are likely to be counterproductive, by placing greater strain on the bilateral relationship because one side could perceive itself as the loser in the process.

Furthermore, in nuclear arms control, it would be useful to start with a general national security objective in mind (such as achieving crisis stability or arms race stability) instead of a particular outcome on which public positions have already been pronounced. For instance, the general goal of deterrence and arms race stability could be achieved by placing mutually acceptable limits on ballistic missile defense deployment. Negotiations should aim for this general national security objective instead of prejudging or announcing the number of sites that would be acceptable to one or the other side. As has been said, “When negotiators bargain over positions, they tend to lock themselves into those positions.… As more attention is paid to positions, less attention is devoted to meeting the underlying concerns of the parties.… Agreement becomes less likely.”[7] Such an approach tends to make modification during negotiations appear as a concession to the adversary, even if it may actually be a rational step that can be accommodated in pursuit of the larger goal. The perceived concession then can be hijacked by domestic politics, especially in a democracy. That can lead to a stiffening of the adversary’s negotiating posture, making progress difficult.

It tremendously helps nuclear arms control if there is a general consensus on the need for and on the broad objective of the process, on one’s own side as well as the other party’s.[8] The case of the recent Indian-U.S. engagement on civilian nuclear cooperation was not strictly an exercise in nuclear arms control, but it provides some pointers in this direction. For instance, the basic objective of India throughout the many rounds of negotiations was to protect its nuclear weapons program while negotiating the terms of cooperation for the civilian nuclear sector. With that objective, the Indian negotiators were allowed to maneuver around the terms of cooperation. Yet, another significant factor that propelled the negotiations toward success was India’s apparent and steadfast political will. This is critical to getting the negotiations started, sustaining them through the rough ride, and ensuring that they are honored on completion. Nuclear arms control negotiations will have to be conducted in a similar way, with a broad objective such as deterrence stability rather than a narrow approach focused on arms reduction and with political will soundly supporting the objective and the process.

Given that nuclear arms control is conducted between countries where the trust deficit is high, arriving at some mechanisms and procedures for verification is critical. The agreement must achieve a fine balance, by being meaningful but not overly intrusive. National technical means or overhead satellites, where available, offer an option of verification from afar because they help a country unilaterally verify an agreement through imagery and detection equipment based in space or air or on land or water. Other possible verification provisions include data exchanges, notifications, and on-site inspections. These could collectively enhance mutual confidence and help deter violations. Meanwhile, mechanisms that help discuss violations or treaty implementation, such as the Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission for the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), also are helpful.

In the context of China, India, and Pakistan, verification is likely to be a difficult part of negotiations. On the one hand, there is a dire need for verification in order to establish a level of trust and credibility; on the other hand, the acceptance of the terms, scope, and means of verification is problematic precisely because of the trust deficit. For instance, the acceptability of short-notice on-site inspections or even data exchanges is doubtful given that opacity and ambiguity are seen as essential for deterrence. Meanwhile, the inadequacy and asymmetry of national technical means is also a handicap. In the context of the CTBT, China, India, and Pakistan had opposed the use of such measures as being “selective and discriminatory.”[9] Since then, however, at least China and India have developed advanced national space programs. Satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles already enable a capability for national technical means in the hands of both nations, although Pakistan remains devoid of any such capability. Therefore, the issue of verification will pose a significant challenge to nuclear arms control. Realization of this fact will help avoid a potential stumbling block in future talks.

Role of the Military

Three decades ago, Colin Gray lamented that arms control and defense planning “proceed down largely autonomous roads” in the United States.[10] Things are not very different in India today. In fact, the military in India has hardly any role or even the understanding of the fact that it must play a role in nuclear arms control. This is largely considered the domain of the Ministry of External Affairs because it is seen as a foreign policy issue. The notion that arms control with adversaries can make a substantial contribution to national defense by providing increased security at lower and less dangerous levels is largely ignored in India.

This is a big mistake; there is a clear linkage between arms control and national security strategy, and the military is a stakeholder in this relationship. Translating arms control objectives into effective negotiating positions calls for an understanding of force planning so that arms control positions can logically support national security objectives. In fact, the very purpose of arms control must emanate from adequate knowledge of force effectiveness. Because targeting is the key to evaluating nuclear arsenal requirements and the military must be able to fulfill its targeting obligations at all times, arms control must be able to support this responsibility. Hence, the military input is absolutely critical for arms control to achieve the objective of establishing strategic stability.

Naturally then, in the context of India, input from the Strategic Forces Command would be essential for India’s conceptualization of its objectives on specific nuclear arms control measures. Specialists from the military and foreign policy establishment must navigate tricky negotiations together. In the case of the Soviet Union and the United States, the exercise was conducted by “career” arms control specialists meeting in semipermanent sessions to consistently present their side’s positions, explore possible compromises, recommend solutions, and draft treaty language. As arsenals and capabilities grew, it was hardly surprising that every negotiation took longer to conclude. It took three years for the first treaty under the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I) to be negotiated, seven years for SALT II, and eight years for START. Indeed, arms control requires rigorous, serious, committed and thorough work.[11] Professionals backed by political will, but removed from politics, can best achieve this.

Potential Areas of Arms Control

As noted earlier, nuclear deterrence, in the Indian understanding, depends not as much on a comparison of numbers of nuclear warheads with the adversary as on what is needed to inflict unacceptable damage on the adversary. Therefore, India’s objectives from nuclear arms control should be to establish a set of mutually accepted operational guiding principles that allows both sides to increase deterrence stability, and to constrain the capabilities or classes of weapons and weapons systems whose existence or development has the potential to create strategic imbalance and the possibility of misperception among decision-makers.

The article suggests four areas of possible nuclear arms control that India could offer to China and Pakistan. At this moment, one cannot be optimistic about how these would be received in Beijing or Islamabad or even New Delhi for the reasons mentioned at the beginning of this article. Nevertheless, it is in India’s interest to make the offer and persist with it. Hopefully, over a period of time and without having to go through a tense episode such as the Cuban missile crisis, all sides will see the benefits of nuclear arms control.

An ABM Treaty of sorts. Missile defense changes the nuclear equation between nations by adding a denial dimension to nuclear deterrence, which may otherwise be based only on deterrence by punishment.[12] A country secure under its missile defense may be tempted toward nuclear pre-emption based on the belief that, having taken out most of the enemy’s nuclear arsenal in a first strike, it could intercept the remaining weapons. This would be perceived as destabilizing by the adversary and would lead to the development of countermeasures, such as increasing the numbers of missiles to saturate missile defense, equipping the missiles with penetration aids, lofting or depressing missile trajectories, or bypassing defenses with cruise missiles or bombers. There are counter-countermeasures to these countermeasures, but the cost of entering this offense-defense spiral must not be overlooked.

For this reason, it may be useful to arrive at some understanding on ballistic missile defense within the larger rubric of nuclear arms control. This could be achieved through an Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty of sorts between India and Pakistan or India and China or even among the three of them. No such example of a triangular nuclear arms control regime has ever existed, so new ground will have to be broken and fresh ideas explored. An ABM agreement in the region would allow both sides to build and deploy some ballistic missile defense capability while keeping them mutually vulnerable to deterrence by punishment. Such an ABM treaty would significantly lower the chances of an arms race between offense and defense.

The benefits of this would be immense because the three countries already are engaged in the development or deployment of ballistic missile defenses or countermeasures. China has been developing both for several years now in order to protect its deterrent against U.S. missile defenses. India also entered the ballistic missile defense realm, as is evident from the four successful interceptions carried out from 2007 to 2010.[13] This capability is being built in response to the threats from Pakistan, especially an unauthorized missile launch, and China. Meanwhile, Pakistan is discomfited by these developments and is crafting its own strategy of countermeasures,[14] in spite of warnings from some Pakistani analysts against being drawn into an arms race with India. These analysts have suggested instead “hardened and mobile basing, countermeasures, and a small numerical preponderance in relation to Indian defence capability.”[15]

The problem for every nation facing the prospect of a ballistic missile defense system is in assessing how “small” a preponderance could suffice. Although the side deploying the system perceives a clear benefit of “existential defense” because the adversary can never be sure that it would not work, the side against the system perceives a clear degradation of its deterrent and hence the need for an offensive buildup. Yet, if all sides are to escape the ravages of the offense-defense spiral, then an understanding on the limits of ballistic missile defense must be evolved through frank and fair negotiations. Ballistic missile defense could be integrated into the nuclear strategy as a more stabilizing element by allowing a mutually agreed limited deployment of those elements of the nuclear arsenal that promise assured retaliation (for instance, the command and control structures or storage sites for delivery vehicles).

Controls on MIRVed missiles. Another candidate for nuclear arms control is a proscription on multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicles (MIRVs), the technology that allows one missile to carry multiple warheads. China is believed to have the technology for MIRVing but is not known to have deployed it yet. Meanwhile, India and Pakistan can certainly be expected to be moving up the development trajectory of missile technologies.

Once all three countries have MIRVed their missiles, strategic stability would decline because MIRVing creates a temptation for pre-emption. Together with the greater accuracy of these missiles, multiple warheads make them essentially first-strike weapons. For the attacking state, MIRVing provides the promise of being able to carry out a disarming counterforce strike. Meanwhile, missiles with many warheads also become attractive targets for the adversary too, creating an urgency to strike the MIRVed missiles before they are launched. Therefore, the use-or-lose dilemma is heightened because nations feel compelled to keep their missiles on launch-on-warning alert levels. In a crisis, either country with MIRVed technology might be tempted to launch first in the hope of gaining a war-winning advantage.

An agreement whereby all sides agree not to MIRV their missiles would contribute to fostering crisis stability because, in such a situation, anticipated military advantage would not provide an incentive for pre-emption during crisis. Single-warhead missiles would present much less tempting targets as pre-emption would require more warheads to be expended than could be destroyed. It would be far more worthwhile for China, India, and Pakistan to arrive at a mutual understanding on this technology rather than following the dangerous path taken by the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War only to arrive at the realization, articulated in the U.S. 2010 Nuclear Posture Review Report, that the de-MIRVing of missiles is a step toward strategic stability.[16]

CTBT. The CTBT proscribes the testing of nuclear explosive devices. It has the twin objectives of preventing new countries from gaining a nuclear weapons capability and restraining countries with existing nuclear arsenals from developing more sophisticated designs. This multilateral medium for nuclear arms control can be used by India to freeze the weapons designs of its adversaries at the existing level.

Opinion is divided within India on whether it should subscribe to the treaty even after the United States and China have ratified it. In deciding whether to join the CTBT, policymakers in New Delhi should keep in mind that India’s nuclear tests to date, although limited in number, have established the reliability of India’s arsenal in terms of yield. More tests would be desirable to obtain better yield-to-weight ratios or weapons of the megaton variety, but they are certainly not essential for building credible deterrence. This is true for Pakistan too. Given the densities of population in China, India, and Pakistan and a knowledge of targeting that would allow nuclear weapons to cause more damage than they did in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,[17] the existing types of weapons suffice to cause unacceptable damage. Also, deterrence is only partially derived from the warhead and its yield. A large part of its credibility depends on other factors such as the range, reliability, the ability of delivery mechanisms to penetrate defenses, and the survivability of the command and control.

Therefore, if the role of nuclear weapons is deterrence alone, the CTBT can be safely used as a measure of nuclear arms control to proscribe the development of more sophisticated thermonuclear designs or halt modernization of arsenals. China, India, and Pakistan would have little to lose in terms of their strategic capability; each has a nuclear deterrent that, even if frozen at the current capability, is viable enough.

FMCT. An FMCT would stop member states from future production of fissile material for weapons. China is believed to have stopped production of its fissile material although this has never been officially corroborated or denied. India publicly stands committed to supporting the early conclusion of the treaty, which has been stalled in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) by Pakistan’s insistence on inclusion of existing stocks within the purview of the treaty, a provision that none of the other states with nuclear weapons support. Therefore, the chances of an FMCT materializing quickly in the near future seem remote.

The FMCT could be used effectively as an arms control tool by India for capping Pakistan’s stockpile accumulation, which is likely to proceed at a frenetic pace in order to bridge the asymmetry with India. Recent Pakistani attempts to block negotiations in the CD are an indication that it sees its stockpile as less than adequate. It is obviously trying to buy time so that new plutonium-production reactors, currently under construction at Khushab, can quickly be made operational and have a few years of service before an FMCT comes into the picture. If India has determined that it does not need an open-ended stockpile to establish credible deterrence against its adversaries, it would actually be in India’s interest to stoke movement toward early conclusion of an FMCT.

Given that President Barack Obama is keen on attempts at stopping fissile material production and securing the available stockpiles worldwide, Indian support for an FMCT would help it not only gain international goodwill but also the strategic benefit of nuclear arms control through a multilateral route. It is unlikely that Pakistan would agree to a quick conclusion of an FMCT, but given the dangers of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism that coincide in that country, it is in the interest of India, the United States, and other states to put pressure on Islamabad to concede on this. The greater the amount of nuclear material in the country, the greater are the security challenges.


By its very nature, nuclear arms control requires negotiations with an adversary. In fact, the more adversarial the relationship, the greater the need for arms control to establish deterrence stability. The greater the hostility, however, the more difficult it is to engage meaningfully to arrive at constructive results.

In order to resolve this catch-22 situation, political statesmanship is needed to look beyond momentary benefits in favor of long-term interests. In fact, there is a deep linkage between interstate relations and arms control. Progress in one area could lead to breakthroughs in the other. In case of the Soviet Union and the United States, joint pursuit of major arms control agreements, especially at times when there were few other areas of positive interaction, helped develop patterns of cooperation and provided incentives for more constructive behavior in other aspects of the relationship. Long periods of interaction between the two produced insights into each other’s strategic thinking, as well as a shared understanding of key concepts and dangers.

Yet, for nuclear arms control negotiations even to begin and eventually to succeed, they must be anchored in a basic belief that the process would contribute significantly to the security of all sides. Therefore, it has to be accepted as more than a zero-sum game. It is imperative that India engage in discussions on a range of strategic topics with China and Pakistan, either bilaterally or trilaterally, so that adoption of certain concrete measures can alleviate concerns and suspicions, clarify policies and practices, and build mutual confidence. Mutual agreements (bilateral or trilateral) on developing and deploying only a limited form of missile defense and on MIRVed missiles are two such measures that have been highlighted in this article.

Nuclear arms control should be expected to be a long, drawn-out process that will have to continue as long as nuclear weapons exist. Clarity on how to proceed, confidence in the benefits of the process, and expertise in handling the difficult negotiations will emerge slowly. Mutual trust and sincerity only can be built over time. Results will be slow, if they come at all. Given that this mechanism offers a relatively inexpensive way of assuring national security through preservation of strategic stability, it needs to be given the chance it deserves, especially by a responsible nuclear power such as India.


Manpreet Sethi heads the Project on Nuclear Security at the Centre for Air Power Studies in New Delhi. She is author of Nuclear Strategy: India’s March Towards Credible Deterrence (2009), co-author of Nuclear Deterrence and Diplomacy (2004), and editor of Towards a Nuclear Weapons Free World (2009) and Global Nuclear Challenges (2009).



1. The Lahore declaration was signed on February 21, 1999, by the prime ministers of both countries. The accompanying memorandum of understanding included confidence-building measures such as an agreement to exchange information on nuclear doctrines and security concepts, numbers of warheads and missiles, advance notification on missile tests, and prompt notification of any accidental, unauthorized, or unexplained nuclear incident. It also recommended a review of existing confidence-building measures and establishment of emergency hotlines for better communication.

2. The U.S.-Soviet history of nuclear arms control is perhaps more relevant to India’s relations with Pakistan than to its relations with China. India and Pakistan see each other as nuclear equals, as the Soviet Union and the United States did. As noted above, China does not recognize India’s nuclear weapons program.

3. One cannot deny that arms control cannot stop an arms race completely. Yet, as one observer commented in reference to the experience of the two superpowers during the Cold War, “[T]he arms race would have developed still more feverishly and the world would have been less stable and less secure.” David B. Rivkin Jr., “The Soviet Approach to Nuclear Arms Control,” Survival, Vol. 29, No. 6 (November-December 1987), p. 488.

4. Although some would be dismissive of this last benefit of nuclear arms control, it is incorrect to undermine its importance at a time when perception of legitimacy in the international arena is an important ingredient for expansion of a country’s influence and power, especially of the soft variety. Smart foreign policy must cash in on every opportunity that increases the legitimacy of India’s nuclear status.

5. When a country feels confident of being able to hit its adversary’s nuclear warhead and delivery vehicle storage sites in a disarming first strike in order to degrade the retaliatory capability of the adversary, the temptation for first nuclear use is assumed to be higher.

6. Walter Slocombe, “Strategic Stability in a Restructured World,” Survival, Vol. 32, No. 4 (July-August 1990), pp. 299-312.

7. Roger Fisher and William Ury, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981), p. 5.

8. For instance, in 1983, during the negotiations on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, Rep. Les Aspin (D-Wis.), a leading U.S. arms control expert, said that the key question had become “whether we can get beyond negotiating among ourselves so that we can begin to negotiate with the Soviet Union.” Ibid., p. 81.

9. See Sha Zukang, Statement to the Conference on Disarmament, CD/PV.743, August 1, 1996, www.nti.org/db/china/engdocs/sha0896.htm.

10. Colin Gray, Strategic Studies: A Critical Assessment (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1982), p. 156.

11. START, for instance, contained many detailed definitions that elaborated the restrictions not only on the permitted number of nuclear warheads but also the locations and movement of delivery vehicles. It mandated extensive data exchanges between the two sides. Counting rules were painstakingly evolved, keeping the objective of ease of verification in view. For additional information, see Amy F. Woolf, “Strategic Arms Control After START: Issues and Options,” CRS Report for Congress, R40084, January 13, 2010, pp. 4-6.

12. “Deterrence by punishment” is a theoretical construct of nuclear strategy attributed to Bernard Brodie. Explained simply, it underpins deterrence on the premise that “if you attack me, I’ll punish you.” On the other hand, “deterrence by denial” was extrapolated by W.L. Borden to loosely mean that “if you attack me, I’ll hit back and deny you victory.” Therefore, although the former concept seeks to avert nuclear use by threatening punishment for the act, the latter imposes deterrence by implying the ability to win a nuclear exchange and thereby deny victory to the adversary.

13. India has conducted four successful interceptions to exhibit its capability in the exoatmosphere and endoatmosphere. According to V.K. Saraswat, the chief controller of the Defence Research and Development Organisation, the organization was “developing a robust anti-missile defence system that will have high speed interceptions for engaging ballistic missiles in the 5,000 km class and above.” Animesh Roul, “India: Missile Defence Dreams,” ISN Security Watch, March 28, 2008, http://www.isn.ethz.ch/isn/Current-Affairs/Security-Watch/Detail/?id=52022&lng=en.

14. It appears to matter little to Pakistan that one reason for New Delhi to acquire missile defense capabilities is based on the need to ensure survivability of critical components of the nuclear arsenal, such as its command and control centers—the National Command Post (NCP) and the Alternate NCP or other elements of retaliatory capability. In this context, India’s limited missile defense should enhance nuclear deterrence and logically be less disconcerting for the adversary. Despite the missile defense, a no-first-use commitment reduces the likelihood of nuclear pre-emption, which is a primary concern when countries with a first-use doctrine, such as the United States, deploy missile defense systems.

15. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, “India’s Endorsement of the U.S. BMD: Challenges for Regional Stability,” Islamabad Policy Research Institute Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Summer 2001), pp. 28-43.

16. U.S. Department of Defense, “Nuclear Posture Review Report,” April 2010, pp. ix, 23-25, www.defense.gov/npr/docs/2010 Nuclear Posture Review Report.pdf.

17. Even the low yields of 15 to 20 kilotons that were used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were so destructive in nature that they have scarred the human mind enough to restrain such inhuman action since. These yields came from nuclear weapons that were dropped from a height that was less than optimum (or the damage to Hiroshima would have been far greater) and on a target not well chosen (Nagasaki’s topography saved it from much greater destruction).