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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 39, July - August 1999

India Draft Nuclear Doctrine

'Draft Report of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) on Indian Nuclear Doctrine, 17 August 1999

Editor's Note

On 17 August, India's National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) published a draft nuclear doctrine. According to Brajesh Mishra (see below), advisor on national security affairs to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the draft was being released to stimulate discussion in advance of General Elections scheduled for September and October, after which the publication of an official doctrine was probable. Speaking on 20 August, the Prime Minister stressed that the draft should not be interpreted as the final stance of his Government or BJP Party: "It is only a draft and not a final policy. We are willing to discuss it with anyone who wishes to do so... We want that document to be properly studied before it attains finality."

The United States reacted to the draft disapprovingly. According to State Department spokesperson James Rubin (18 August): "In general, we don't find it an encouraging document. We find it a document that describes the desire to develop a nuclear arsenal and that is something that we think is not in the security interests of India, the subcontinent, or the United States, or the world." The US, Rubin repeated, urged both India and Pakistan to accede to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) as early as possible, "to not weaponize missiles so that they can carry nuclear weapons, to stop the production of fissile material, and to develop an export control system, the combination of which [measures] is certainly not consistent with the broad outlines of this doctrine, as we know it..."

On 18 August, the Japanese Foreign Ministry issued a strong statement expressing its alarm:

"1. Japan is deeply concerned at the release of the Draft Report of National Security Advisory Board on Indian Nuclear Doctrine aimed at preparing for nuclear arms with adequate retaliatory capability, since the report can lead to further undertaking of the weaponisation and deployment of nuclear weapons in India and will further weaken the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

2. Japan has been coordinating with the Government of India for an early realization of a visit to Japan of Mr. Jaswant Singh, Minister of External Affairs, to deepen mutual understanding. Through this kind of dialogue, Japan wishes to convey its basic stance, which places importance on the staged reduction of nuclear weapons and the firm maintenance and strengthening of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, and to gain the understanding of India."

Please see below for a response from Pakistan.

Related Developments

On 15 August, to the backdrop of the ongoing Kashmir crisis (see above), both States celebrated Independence Day. In his address to the nation, Vajpayee dwelt at some length on nuclear issues:

"When I addressed you...last year, there was uncertainty and cynicism in the atmosphere. It was being asked: will we be able to withstand economic sanctions? ... Today, speaking to a self-confident India, I declare: sanctions have lost their effect. They have become a thing of the past. We have dealt with them in such a way that they hardly had any effect on our economy... And we are stronger than ever. Pokhran [India's test site] has given us enviable strength and self-confidence. [The] Agni-II [nuclear-capable ballistic missile] has been tested - in the face of pressures - and will be integrated into our defence arsenal. ..."

Referring to the impact of the Kashmir crisis - on 10 August, 16 Pakistani personnel were killed in a border region when India shot down a surveillance aircraft belonging to the Pakistani Navy - on the 'Lahore process' of confidence-building inaugurated in February this year, Vajpayee observed sombrely:

"The Lahore bus journey was taken to improve our relations with Pakistan. ... This journey was not a showpiece. It was a serious and well-considered move, which we made knowing full well that there could be risks in it. ... Later, when the bus to Lahore was taken to Kargil, it did not take much time to realise that Pakistan not only violated the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration, but it also crossed the borders of trust and goodwill. ...

I do hope the people of Pakistan too will reflect on these events. We reached out to you with a message of friendship. What did we gain in return? Hundreds lost their lives. Relations were spoilt. ... Terrorists are being trained in Pakistan. Camps are being run for them. Hordes of terrorists are being sent into India. ...How can meaningful dialogue take place in this atmosphere?"

In his Independence Day address, Pakistan's Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, described the loss of the 16 personnel as "a serious blow to our efforts to resolve the Kashmir dispute peacefully". Sharif continued:

"There is a limit to everything and let there be no doubts that Pakistan has the capability to give a telling response to any military aggression. ... We chose to exercise restraint and patience [in an effort to end the fighting in Kargil], not due to any weakness but only to save the people of the subcontinent from a catastrophe, which would spare none to celebrate victories if it should befall this region..."

Sources: US appeals to India and Pakistan, Associated Press, 11 August; Speech by Sri A. B. Vajpayee, Prime Minister of India, on Independence Day, 15 August 1999, Government of India website (http://www.indiagov.org); Nawaz warns India of 'telling response', The News International, 16 August; India outlines 'minimum deterrence' nuclear plan, Reuters, 17 August; India outlines nuclear doctrine, Associated Press, 17 August; India publishes uncompromising draft nuclear weapons doctrine, Agence France-Presse, 17 August; US says India's nuclear doctrine not encouraging, Reuters, 18 August; India's nuclear draft, Statement issued by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 18 August; Pakistan calls India nuclear doctrine 'dangerous', Reuters, 19 August; India says open to talks on nuclear doctrine, Reuters, 20 August.

Introductory Remarks by National Security Adviser

Opening Remarks by National Security Adviser Mr. Brajesh Mishra at the Release of the Draft Report, New Delhi, 17 August

"I am happy to present to you the draft of the Nuclear Doctrine prepared by the National Security Board. A copy has been placed in each of the seats in the hall. We have decided to make this document public in keeping with our position in favour of greater transparency in decision-making. Please note that this is a draft proposed by the NSAB and has not yet been approved by the Government. That will have to wait until after the general elections.

As our thinking on the nuclear tests has been fairly well publicised, I do not intend to go over the ground again. Suffice it to say that this was a step necessitated by the security environment and our need to ensure for ourselves the element of strategic autonomy in decision making which we will need in the coming years. Our position has all along been that global security would be enhanced by the universal elimination of all nuclear weapons, and this remains our conviction today. Unfortunately, the indefinite extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1995 was in the reverse direction.

Our nuclear weapons are not country-specific but, as I mentioned earlier, are aimed at providing us the autonomy of exercising strategic choices in the best interest of our country, without fear or coercion in a nuclearised environment. That being so, we have adopted a policy of minimum deterrence as the basic building block of our nuclear thinking. Minimum but credible deterrence is the watchword of our nuclear doctrine. From this, flows the decision to adopt a no-first-use posture. We have therefore given unconditional guarantees to States that do not have nuclear weapons, or are not aligned with nuclear weapon powers.

A cardinal principle regarding the use of nuclear weapons is that of civilian control. Only the elected civilian leader of the country is empowered to authorise the use of nuclear weapons. As the recent operations in Kargil have demonstrated, our system and the political leadership, behave with great responsibility and restraint, as you would expect from the largest democracy in the world. This sense of responsibility will also guide our actions with regard to nuclear weapons. With these words, I have great pleasure in releasing the document for public discussion and debate."

Draft Doctrine

"1. Preamble

1.1. The use of nuclear weapons in particular as well as other weapons of mass destruction constitutes the gravest threat to humanity and to peace and stability in the international system. Unlike the other two categories of weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical weapons which have been outlawed by international treaties, nuclear weapons remain instruments for national and collective security, the possession of which on a selective basis has been sought to be legitimised through permanent extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in May 1995. Nuclear-weapon States have asserted that they will continue to rely on nuclear weapons with some of them adopting policies to use them even in a non-nuclear context. These developments amount to virtual abandonment of nuclear disarmament. This is a serious setback to the struggle of the international community to abolish weapons of mass destruction.

1.2. India's primary objective is to achieve economic, political, social, scientific and technological development within a peaceful and democratic framework. This requires an environment of durable peace and insurance against potential risks to peace and stability. It will be India's endeavour to proceed towards this overall objective in cooperation with the global democratic trends and to play a constructive role in advancing the international system toward a just, peaceful and equitable order.

1.3. Autonomy of decision making in the developmental process and in strategic matters is an inalienable democratic right of the Indian people. India will strenuously guard this right in a world where nuclear weapons for a select few are sought to be legitimised for an indefinite future, and where there is growing complexity and frequency in the use of force for political purposes.

1.4. India's security is an integral component of its development process. India continuously aims at promoting an ever-expanding area of peace and stability around it so that developmental priorities can be pursued without disruption.

1.5. However, the very existence of offensive doctrine pertaining to the first use of nuclear weapons and the insistence of some nuclear-weapons States on the legitimacy of their use even against non-nuclear weapon countries constitute a threat to peace, stability and sovereignty of States.

1.6. This document outlines the broad principles for the development, deployment and employment of India's nuclear forces. Details of policy and strategy concerning force structures, deployment and employment of nuclear forces will flow from this framework and will be laid down separately and kept under constant review.

2. Objectives

2.1. In the absence of global nuclear disarmament India's strategic interests require effective, credible nuclear deterrence and adequate retaliatory capability should deterrence fail. This is consistent with the UN Charter, which sanctions the right of self-defence.

2.2. The requirements of deterrence should be carefully weighed in the design of Indian nuclear forces and in the strategy to provide for a level of capability consistent with maximum credibility, survivability, effectiveness, safety and security.

2.3. India shall pursue a doctrine of credible minimum nuclear deterrence. In this policy of 'retaliation only', the survivability of our arsenal is critical. This is a dynamic concept related to the strategic environment, technological imperatives and the needs of national security. The actual size components, deployment and employment of nuclear forces will be decided in the light of these factors. India's peacetime posture aims at convincing any potential aggressor that :

(a) any threat of use of nuclear weapons against India shall invoke measures to counter the threat: and

(b) any nuclear attack on India and its forces shall result in punitive retaliation with nuclear weapons to inflict damage unacceptable to the aggressor.

2.4. The fundamental purpose of Indian nuclear weapons is to deter the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons by any State or entity against India and its forces. India will not be the first to initiate a nuclear strike, but will respond with punitive retaliation should deterrence fail.

2.5. India will not resort to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against States which do not possess nuclear weapons, or are not aligned with nuclear-weapon powers.

2.6. Deterrence requires that India maintain:

(a) Sufficient, survivable and operationally prepared nuclear forces,

(b) a robust command and control system,

(c) effective intelligence and early warning capabilities,

(d) comprehensive planning and training for operations in line with the strategy, and

(e) the will to employ nuclear forces and weapons

2.7. Highly effective conventional military capabilities shall be maintained to raise the threshold of outbreak both of conventional military conflict as well as that of threat or use of nuclear weapons.

3. Nuclear Forces

3.1. India's nuclear forces will be effective, enduring, diverse, flexible, and responsive to the requirements in accordance with the concept of credible minimum deterrence. These forces will be based on a triad of aircraft, mobile land-based missiles and sea-based assets in keeping with the objectives outlined above. Survivability of the forces will be enhanced by a combination of multiple redundant systems, mobility, dispersion and deception.

3.2. The doctrine envisages assured capability to shift from peacetime deployment to fully employable forces in the shortest possible time, and the ability to retaliate effectively even in a case of significant degradation by hostile strikes.

4. Credibility and Survivability

The following principles are central to India's nuclear deterrent:

4.1. Credibility: Any adversary must know that India can and will retaliate with sufficient nuclear weapons to inflict destruction and punishment that the aggressor will find unacceptable if nuclear weapons are used against India and its forces.

4.2. Effectiveness: The efficacy of India's nuclear deterrent be maximised through synergy among all elements involving reliability, timeliness, accuracy and weight of the attack.

4.3 Survivability:

(i) India's nuclear forces and their command and control shall be organised for very high survivability against surprise attacks and for rapid punitive response. They shall be designed and deployed to ensure survival against a first strike and to endure repetitive attrition attempts with adequate retaliatory capabilities for a punishing strike which would be unacceptable to the aggressor.

(ii) Procedures for the continuity of nuclear command and control shall ensure a continuing capability to effectively employ nuclear weapons.

5. Command and Control

5.1. Nuclear weapons shall be tightly controlled and released for use at the highest political level. The authority to release nuclear weapons for use resides in the person of the Prime Minister of India, or the designated successor(s).

5.2. An effective and survivable command and control system with requisite flexibility and responsiveness shall be in place. An integrated operational plan, or a series of sequential plans, predicated on strategic objectives and a targetting policy shall form part of the system.

5.3. For effective employment the unity of command and control of nuclear forces including dual capable delivery systems shall be ensured.

5.4. The survivability of the nuclear arsenal and effective command, control, communications, computing, intelligence and information systems shall be assured.

5.5. The Indian defence forces shall be in a position to, execute operations in an NBC environment with minimal degradation.

5.6. Space-based and other assets shall be created to provide early warning, communications, damage/detonation assessment.

6. Security and Safety

6.1. Security: Extraordinary precautions shall be taken to ensure that nuclear weapons, their manufacture, transportation and storage are fully guarded against possible theft, loss, sabotage, damage or unauthorised access or use.

6.2. Safety is an absolute requirement and tamper proof procedures and systems shall be instituted to ensure that unauthorised or inadvertent activation/use of nuclear weapons does not take place and risks of accident are avoided.

6.3. Disaster control: India shall develop an appropriate disaster control system capable of handling the unique requirements of potential incidents involving nuclear weapons and materials.

7. Research and Development

7.1. India should step up efforts in research and development to keep up with technological advances in this field.

7.2. While India is committed to maintain the deployment of a deterrent which is both minimum and credible, it will not accept any restraints on building its R&D capability.

8. Disarmament and Arms Control

8.1. Global, verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament is a national security objective. India shall continue its efforts to achieve the goal of a nuclear weapon-free world at an early date.

8.2. Since no-first use of nuclear weapons is India's basic commitment, every effort shall be made to persuade other States possessing nuclear weapons to join an international treaty banning first use.

8.3. Having provided unqualified negative security assurances, India shall work for internationally binding unconditional negative security assurances by nuclear-weapon States to non-nuclear-weapon States.

8.4. Nuclear arms control measures shall be sought as part of national security policy to reduce potential threats and to protect our own capability and its effectiveness.

8.5. In view of the very high destructive potential of nuclear weapons, appropriate nuclear risk reduction and confidence building measures shall be sought, negotiated and instituted."

Response by Pakistan

Statement by Shamshad Ahmad, Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad, 7 September 1999

"India's nuclear doctrine announced last month is a logical evolution of India's nuclear ambitions that it pursued since its independence. India developed its nuclear option as a matter of choice and policy consistent with its long-held vision [of itself] as a regional hegemon and a major global power. In contrast, Pakistan has exercised [the] nuclear option only in response to the compulsions of its security environment. It is easy to understand why Pakistan's security concerns are so deep and so constant. ...

The nuclearisation of South Asia is neither of our making nor of our choice, but is now a reality that cannot be wished away. ... India's nuclear tests radically altered the strategic balance in South Asia. Peace was imperilled. We faced nuclear blackmail. ... We neither had a security alliance nor could we depend on the nuclear umbrella of the major powers. ... It became imperative for us to respond. We restored the strategic balance and established nuclear deterrence. We have no doubt that our tests served the interest of peace and stability in South Asia. ...

We have always believed that nuclear deterrence could be exercised by Pakistan and India at the lowest possible level. We were, therefore, initially encouraged by Indian statements that it wanted to maintain a position of 'credible minimum deterrence'. However, New Delhi left the interpretation of this concept deliberately vague. Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh asserted that 'credible minimum deterrence' was a 'dynamic concept' and not fixed in 'time and space'. Thus India was again playing the role of a wolf in sheep's clothing. ...

Following the initiation of our dialogue with the United States last summer, Pakistan developed the concept of three inter-related elements to enhance peace and security in South Asia, i.e. nuclear restraint and stabilization, conventional arms balance and the resolution of outstanding conflicts and disputes. This concept spelt out...a Strategic Restraint Regime which encompassed prevention of [a] nuclear and ballistic missile race, [a] risk-reduction mechanism, and the proposition that nuclear deterrence should be pursued at the lowest possible level. ... [This Regime] was formally proposed to India last October.

The nuclear doctrine announced by India is obviously incompatible with both the idea of 'credible minimum deterrence', as well as the concept of a 'Strategic Restraint Regime'. The Indian nuclear doctrine reveals New Delhi's goal of acquiring massive nuclear war-fighting capabilities - a 'triad' of up to 400 operationally deployed ground, air and sea-based nuclear weapons. Not all of the five NPT nuclear-weapons States possess such a triad. A nuclear force as large as this may be credible but it will certainly not be 'minimum'. ...

The size of India's [proposed] nuclear arsenal, and its operational deployment, would transform it into a threatening 'first strike' force against Pakistan and other neighbouring countries. Such massive deployment cannot conceivably be designed purely for deterrence. India's profession of 'non-first-use' of nuclear weapons is only a facade to justify a second strike capability and large scale acquisition and deployment of nuclear weapons. Also...India's 'offer' of a no-first-use and non-use against non-nuclear States is not meant to reassure Pakistan or others, but is primarily aimed at securing for itself the status of a nuclear-weapon State. ...

For 'minimum credible deterrence' India does not need 150 to 400 nuclear warheads. It does not need sea-based and submarine-based nuclear capabilities. It does not require huge conventional land, sea and air forces, including aircraft carriers and advanced strike aircraft. Certainly, deterrence is not India's desire. India's plans...are aimed at building up an offensive, and not a defensive, military capability. India is feverishly trying to establish, within the next two decades, total military hegemony in South Asia and beyond, control [of] the sea lanes, from the oil-rich Gulf in the West to the Straits of Malacca in the East, and [to] compete for influence on the global stage with the major powers. ...

The development of such a nuclear arsenal by India will oblige Pakistan to take appropriate action to preserve the credibility of its nuclear deterrence posture and the capability for conventional self-defence. One recourse is for Pakistan to engage in a nuclear and conventional arms race with India. ... A prevalent theory is that, by pushing Pakistan into a huge military build-up, India intends to destroy Pakistan's economy. An analogy is drawn with that of the Soviet economy which crumbled as a consequence of the Cold War arms race against the United States. ... Let me state clearly and unequivocally that Pakistan can and will find ways and means to maintain credible nuclear deterrence against India without the need to match it bomb for bomb, missile for missile. ...

If its doctrine is to be implemented, India will require nuclear warheads to be placed on its short-, medium-, and longer-range missiles. It would want to match the other nuclear powers by developing thermonuclear weapons. Unless India has received nuclear weapons designs from clandestine sources, it will need to conduct further nuclear weapon tests... In this context, we have noted that certain preparations made by India last year to conduct additional nuclear tests have not been reversed so far. ...

The very possibility that India may conduct further nuclear tests creates doubts in Pakistan regarding the advisability of our early adherence to the CTBT. If India does conduct further nuclear tests, this will, once more, oblige Pakistan to respond. ... The first priority for the world must be, therefore, to press India - and not Pakistan - to sign and ratify the CTBT and to reverse the preparations it has made for further nuclear tests.

India's intention to manufacture 400 or more nuclear warheads is also of special concern for Pakistan. India will require substantial quantities of fissile material for such a large nuclear force. Under these circumstances, neither India nor Pakistan could accept the conclusion of an FMCT [Fissile Materials Cut-Off Treaty], much less a moratorium on fissile material production. Other reports suggest that India already possesses sufficient plutonium to build 400 warheads. If it does not, it will have to accelerate fissile material production in its various unsafeguarded facilities to reach the desired level of stocks.

In either event, Pakistan will be obliged to also build-up the amount of fissile material in its inventory in order to maintain the capability for credible nuclear deterrence against the anticipated large Indian nuclear force. Therefore, the pursuit of India's nuclear doctrine will deal a bodyblow to the prospects of concluding a Treaty - so widely desired - to halt fissile materials production. ...

Pakistan believes that the international community needs to respond in a coherent and determined way to this 'doctrine' in order to arrest India's dangerous plans for nuclear and conventional arms escalation. Specifically, the international community needs to ask India, and assure its neighbours and the world, that:

1. it will not conduct further nuclear tests. Until the CTBT comes into force, Pakistan and India could formalize their unilateral moratoriums into a binding bilateral arrangement;

2. it will not operationally deploy its nuclear weapons and will keep them in a non-deployed mode;

3. it will not build the hundreds of nuclear warheads as envisaged by its nuclear 'doctrine';

4. it will not produce or possess the large stocks of fissile materials which would enable it to build a large arsenal of nuclear weapons in the future. In this context, steps should be taken to achieve a balance between the unequal stockpiles of India and Pakistan;

5. it will not seek to create sea-based and submarine-based nuclear forces;

6. it will not seek to acquire, develop or deploy anti-ballistic missile systems which could escalate the development and deployment of nuclear arms in the region;

7. it will refrain from any military-related actions in space;

8. it will review and restrain its plans for the acquisition and development of advanced aircraft, nuclear submarines and other technologically advanced weapons systems which could accentuate and accelerate the nuclear and conventional arms race in the region;

9. it will seriously address and resolve the underlying issues with Pakistan, especially the Jammu & Kashmir dispute, with the active support and involvement of the international community; and

10. it will enter into negotiations with Pakistan to elaborate a 'Strategic Restraint Regime' for South Asia. ..."

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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