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Evaluating the moves of global players on nuclear strategy chess board

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New Delhi, INDIA- 21 November 2014: The Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS) organized a National seminar on “India’s Nuclear Strategy.” The first session of the seminar examined nuclear related developments not just in the regional but also the global landscape since there is an interconnection here. The second session evaluated the Indian nuclear doctrine, analysed the capability build up and assessed issues related to furthering the credibility of India’s nuclear deterrent.

The seminar commenced with welcome remarks made by Air Marshal Vinod Patney SYSM PVSM AVSM VrC (Retd), Director General, CAPS. Air Mshl Patney emphasized the no universal acceptance of No First Use (NFU) in terms of doctrine. While speaking on the Indian Nuclear doctrine he said that, “ Our doctrine is sound and should remain unaltered.”

This was followed by the inaugural address given by Ambassador Lalit Mansingh, former Foreign Secretary, GOI. Amb Mansingh began his address by remembering Late Air Commodore Jasjit Singh and his views on nuclear strategy. He raised the question that, “Why can’t we have simpler and more compact structure as other nuclear states have?” Further, he spoke on the strategic stability between India and China and India and Pakistan.

The theme of the first session was “Current Nuclear Landscape.” The session was chaired by Amb Nalin Surie, former Ambassador to Poland & China, High Commissioner to the UK, and Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs. The key panelists were: Dr Shalini Chawla, Senior Fellow, CAPS, Dr Srikanth Kondapalli, Professor, Centre for East Asian Studies, School of International Studies, JNU and Professor Chintamani Mahapatra, Centre for Canadian, US and Latin American Studies, SIS, JNU.

Dr Chawla discussed in depth the Nuclear Strategy of Pakistan. She emphasised that the core element of Pakistan’s Nuclear strategy is to avoid conventional war with India and said that, despite the huge drain of resources, it was still able to attain parity with India. She further elaborated that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are in sync with the strategic culture of Pakistan , which believes in an offensive, aggressive approach and the use of terror and nuclear blackmail as a political tool.

Professor Chintamani Mahapatra spoke on the US, NATO and Russian Nuclear Strategies. He said that, “A new type of Cold War is definitely unfolding at the regional level.” He further said that, “ The debate on nuclear weapons, and nuclear strategy are back. Barack Obama’s nuclear free world idea has been sidelined.” Dr Srikanth Kondapalli spoke on China’s Nuclear Strategy. He said that, “China is preparing for regional deterrence rather than international deterrence, which is of concern for India.”

This was followed by the second session, which was chaired by Air Mshl Patney. The key panelists were: Brig Gurmeet Kanwal (Retd), Adjunct Faculty, CSIS, Washington DC, Dr Manpreet Sethi, ICSSR Fellow, affiliated to CAPS and Amb Arundhati Ghose, India’s former Permanent Representative at CD.

The chair began with the very reason why we need nuclear weapons and the purpose behind these weapons. The likelihood of nuclear war ,according to him, is zero. Brig Gurmeet Kanwal spoke on the relevance of India’s nuclear doctrine. He highlighted that the play of deterrence is changing and no longer relevant now, than what it used to be. He further dwelled on the Indian nuclear doctrine and its various dimensions.

Dr Manpreet Sethi spoke on India’s nuclear capability: Where are we; What more? Dr Sethi said that, “We are so much focused on the adversaries’ capabilities but more focus is required on India’s own capabilities.” As per the speaker, a nuclear test just by itself is not enough and capability of nuclear warhead and the vehicles to deliver them need continuous evaluation. Credibility and the visibility of being well equipped needs to be communicated. Thereafter, the speaker discussed in depth the selection of capabilities based on nature of doctrine, nature of target and technological capability. She emphasised that we don’t need more tests and the political climate does not make it worthwhile to undertake these tests. She further said that the Indian focus of nuclear weapons was as a political instrument for deterrence and not for war fighting.

Amb Arundhati Ghose spoke on Indian Nuclear strategy and credibility: What’s Amiss? Amb Ghose marked the distinction between doctrine and strategy and said that doctrine is not strategy but a set of beliefs and should be left untouched. She emphasized that although we have spent adequate time in projecting ourselves as a responsible nuclear country at the international level, we need to spend more time on communicating the same to our own people about our nuclear credibility.

The seminar concluded with the question and answer session during which Amb Suri said that “Non declaration of strategy is also a strategy.” Maj Gen Dipankar Banerjee, Mentor IPCS said that, “Nuclear weapon use is a failure of policy because nuclear weapons are for deterrence, not for war fighting.” The seminar was yet another attempt by CAPS to bring strategic issues and expert speakers on one common platform.


Note to Editors:- Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS) was established in 2001 as an autonomous defence research and analysis body for studies, research and focused analyses of issues related to national security, defence, and aerospace issues in the evolving strategic and international security environment. Its objective is to facilitate greater understanding of these issues amongst the Armed Forces, the public and also improve policy generation and decision-making through research in such vital fields.


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