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Credibility Of India’s Second Strike Capability – OpEd

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The third leg of the bourgeoning Nuclear Triad of India is of great significance. In any event, the first strike takes out India’s land based ballistic nuclear missiles and strategic aviation, then the Indian Navy’s Arihant lurking in the ocean depths to avoid and launch ambush and retaliatory strikes will render the attacking country unfit for human life.

The austerity of the idea of placing a nuclear deterrent on submarines emerged in 1950s, as the United States and the USSR explored different avenues with arming diesel-electric boats with basic cruise and ballistic missiles.

India has maintained a strong nuclear force to ward off any possible misadventure; India too has built a formidable arsenal including nuclear weapons. As indicated by the most recent information by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) an international think tank on conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament, India has burned through $63.9 billion on its defense forces in 2017, an increase of 5.5 per cent compared with 2016.

The Indian Navy too has the indigenously built nuclear submarine INS Arihant which carries nuclear-tipped missiles, giving India an assured second strike capability only if the nuclear sub marine is operational. As per the Indian avowals the nuclear submarine is equipped with the K-15 (Sagarika) and K-4 missiles. The Sagarika missile has a range of 750km to 1,500km and can carry a warhead of 1 tons; the K-4 is a much bigger missile having a range of 3,500km with a warhead capacity of 2.5 tones. INS Arihant is the first indigenously built submersible nuclear submarine with assistance from the Russian technology and designers.

Notwithstanding the reports that surfaced regarding an accident that might have damaged INS Arihant. The news item reported by The Hindu stated that the Arihant’s propulsion compartment was damaged after water entered it, as a hatch on the rear side was left open by mistake. This report however raised questions rather than furbishing any response primarily because of the glaring technical irregularities, for the submarine has no hatches there. INS Arihant is based on Russian double hull design which has a sealed nuclear reactor section.

Moreover, The Hindu’s reporting on the Arihant brings into limelight the threatening and upsetting partition between the nation’s political and military authority.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs, India has formally announced and established a command structure which is directly under the civilian control. The Nuclear Command Authority established by India includes a Political Council and an Executive Council. India’s Prime Minister chairs the Political Council. it is the only body with authority to order a nuclear strike. The National Security Advisor chairs the Executive Council, which advises the Nuclear Command Authority and carries out orders from the Political Council. However the height of incongruity is that the absence of Arihant from operations came into the knowledge of the Political leadership only when the Indian Navy was carrying out the precautionary advance deployment of submarine assets following the Doklam standoff with China.

It is exasperating to note that India’s political leadership came to know about one leg of nation’s strategic triad only after they requested a precautionary advance deployment.

The accident not only underscores the professional incapability of the Indian Navy but also speaks volume of the broad failure in intelligence and the respective checks and balance in place. It additionally implies that military is not keeping the civilian government on the up and up which is against India’s declared operating procedures.
Lastly, the accident also called attention to the credibility of India’s second strike capability, for the best mode of second strike capability is the submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and for the missiles to be launched an ‘operational’ nuclear submarine is needed, which India as of now has not been able to acquire.

*Ubaid Ahmed, currently working as research Associate, Strategic Vision Institute. He can be reached at [email protected]


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3 thoughts on “Credibility Of India’s Second Strike Capability – OpEd

  • May 16, 2018 at 5:51 am
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    India’s rapid modernization of military capabilities and naval buildup. Pakistan cannot sit in denial and need to work out for the options which can better serve the national interests of the country. Pakistan needs to develop its own capabilities in order to achieve a credible deterrence.

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  • June 5, 2018 at 8:19 pm
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    Indian dream to dominate Indian Ocean rests not on its not lame warships and submarine capabilities but rather on its poor leadership, bad training and wanting safety practices. They have to measure up to their ambition – but once they do, they shall invite unwelcome adversaries. Mahan was clarion in his prophetic phrase – an effort to rule the seas bespeaks military ambition and is tantamount to revising the global order. That shall not go unnoticed.
    Most importantly, India has to think about Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian’s statement of 1994, where he stated, “the Indian Ocean is not India’s ocean…” It is merely named on the geographical, not political basis. It suggests that Beijing is aware of Indian activities in waters and it also possess far better navy with latest naval technology.

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  • June 5, 2018 at 10:22 pm
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    Indian aggressive military modernization is posing serious threat for Pakistan which is not something perceptive only as both policies and actions convey in crystal clear terms New Delhi’s aggressive designs. According to a prestigious American magazine Foreign Policy, India is building a top-secret nuclear city to produce thermo nuclear weapons which would upgrade the country as a nuclear power and unsettle its two major neighbours – Pakistan and China. Naval modernization as well Indian aspiration for Blue Water Navy is again a matter of serious concern for Pakistan and the initiative of Indian Ocean Region as a Peace Zone.

    Reply

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