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Managing India's Nuclear Forces

Verghese Koithara

Publication Year: 2012

India is now enmeshed in the deterrence game —actively with its traditional adversary Pakistan, and potentially with China. At the same time it is finding easier access to fissile materials and strategic technologies. In order to deal with these developments safely and wisely, the nation needs a much more sophisticated and multidisciplinary understanding of the strategic, technological, operational, and cost issues involved in nuclear matters.

In this important book, Indian strategic analyst Verghese Koithara explains and evaluates India's nuclear force management, encouraging a broad public conversation that may act as a catalyst for positive change before the subcontinent experiences unthinkable carnage.

The defense management system of a nuclear power absolutely needs to be sound and thorough. In addition to the considerable demands of managing its nuclear forces, it also must control conventional forces in a manner that forestalls nuclear escalation of a conflict by either side. Expanding and upgrading nuclear forces without enhancing deterrence is dangerous and should be avoided. India's nuclear force management system is grafted onto a woefully inadequate overall system of defense management.

Koithara dissects all of these issues and suggests a way forward, drawing on recent developments in deterrence theory around the world.

Published by: Brookings Institution Press

Front Cover

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Front Flap

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Title Page

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Copyright Information

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pp. iv-vi

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Abbreviations

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pp. ix-xiv

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pp. xv-xvi

During the three years this book has been in the works I have benefited greatly from discussions with a number of people in India and a few elsewhere. I am not citing them individually here, partly because of the number involved and partly because many of them...

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pp. 1-17

For a variety of political and organisational reasons, India is saddled with a nuclear force management system that is seriously inadequate for the work it needs to do. Two of these reasons stand out prominently. The first is, with the debatable exception of France, India is the only...

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Strategic Considerations

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pp. 18-52

A country like India, which is in a dynamic mutual deterrence relationship with one adversary and in a potential one with another, has to factor in a range of strategic considerations while developing its nuclear forces further. There are geopolitical factors, such as the...

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The Challenge of Deterrence

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pp. 53-86

The challenge of managing nuclear deterrence is shaped by both the external strategic and internal resource milieus each country finds itself in. Every NWS has developed and made use of its deterrence capability in a different way. Even the US and the USSR were far from mirror...

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A Unique Nuclear Path

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pp. 87-105

Of all the countries that became NWS, India took the longest to develop both an operational nuclear bomb and an operational nuclear tipped missile. The reasons for this are several and include international constraints, leadership attitude and a dysfunctional system of management....

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The Triad

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pp. 106-121

India’s 1999 DND states that the country shall create ‘a triad of aircraft, mobile land-based missiles and sea-based assets (National Security Advisory Board 1999).’ The basic logic behind triad is to expand counterforce problems for the enemy and improve the penetrativity...

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Nuclear Hardware

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pp. 122-141

The term ‘nuclear hardware’ covers bombs and warheads, missiles, missile submarines, and the wide range of equipment required for the effective performance of C&C. All of this hardware must be capable of safe and reliable operations. Possibilities of design error and component

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Hardware to Forces

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pp. 142-161

There is a serious underestimation in India of the effort needed to transform nuclear hardware into operationally effective nuclear forces. The approach needed to create and operate nuclear forces, as opposed to exercising C & C over them, is not very different from that...

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Operational Level Management

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pp. 162-174

The key concepts of deterrence theory such as unacceptable destruction, assured retaliation, and credibility in the eyes of the adversary need to be implemented operationally. Adequate operationalisation is necessary for combat preparedness as well as for demonstrating...

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India's Nuclear Force Management System

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pp. 175-193

The system used to exercise C & C over nuclear forces and the one used to manage them are different in every NWS. While the reins of the C&C system are held tightly by the NCA in every country, the system that manages nuclear forces everywhere, except in India, is largely a...

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Nuclear Strategy

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pp. 194-210

The basic purpose of nuclear strategy is to clarify the role nuclear forces should play in enhancing a country’s security and delineate how that role should be played. A nuclear strategy is both influenced and constrained by the other strategies that a country pursues. It must therefore...

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Development of Nuclear Forces

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pp. 211-234

The conditions enveloping India’s nuclear force development changed radically during 1988–90 when India and Pakistan acquired the operational capability to deliver nuclear weapons in each other’s territory using aircraft. They changed substantially again during 1998–2000...

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The 'Use' of Nuclear Forces

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pp. 235-246

For some years after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when leaders and strategic thinkers were trying to understand the implications of the nuclear revolution, many had thought that nuclear weapons could be used for a variety of political and military purposes. These...

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The Many-faceted Challenge

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pp. 247-274

The essential idea presented in this book is that to promote India’s security, as it rises on the global stage, India needs to manage its nuclear deterrence capability much better than how it is doing today. The experience gained during the first half of the Cold War has made...


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pp. 275-286

About the Author

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p. 287-287


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pp. 288-294

Back Flap

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Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780815722670
E-ISBN-10: 0815722672
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815722663
Print-ISBN-10: 0815722664

Page Count: 294
Publication Year: 2012