Round Table on ‘Global Nuclear Developments and India’s Policy Challenges’ at the VIF on 08 Jan 2020
Opening Remarks by Dr Arvind Gupta, Director, VIF

In today’s round table we intend to take stock of the global nuclear developments and identify the challenges for India and how it should respond.

As we speak, the global and regional security environment has deteriorated sharply in the last few weeks. Iran has launched missiles on US base in Iraq in retaliation to the killing of General Qasem Soleimani. The Middle East is entering into unchartered territory. The US had withdrawn from the JCPOA while Iran had continued to implemented. Now, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is dead.

A new nuclear arms race is beginning. The US has withdrawn from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the future of new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) is doubtful. Arms control agreements are collapsing and there is little chance of new agreements being concluded. All nuclear arms countries are modernizing their nuclear arsenals. Russia has introduced Avangard hyper glide vehicle, nuclear Torpedo’s and nuclear Cruise missiles. The US is going to spend a trillion dollars on the modernisation of its nuclear arsenals. The US Nuclear Posture Review envisages the use of nuclear weapons in extreme cases.

China has displayed DF-31 Inter Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) with 14000 Km range. It has refused to the part of any arms control agreements.

Pakistan tested four missiles including short range Nasr/Hatf nuclear capable missile. It has also experimenting with Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) missiles. China-Pakistan nuclear nexus remains strong as ever and becoming stronger. Pakistan, with China’s help, is developing full spectrum deterrence.

The conference of disarmament has made no progress. It remains blocked. The Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is dysfunctional and has become yet another talk shop.

India has to figure out how to respond to these disquieting developments concerning global security as well as nuclear environments. India will also need to continuously improve its nuclear arsenal as well as delivery systems while remaining within the parameters of its nuclear doctrine. However, many people have argued that India should revise its nuclear doctrine by giving up the No First Use (NFU) commitments. The debate is inconclusive although senior ministers have hinted that nuclear doctrine may be revised.

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