IPCS podcast on ‘India’s Nuclear Doctrine’

CNN has republished the IPCS podcast in its January 5, 2017 report — “2.6 billion people, nukes and missiles. What could go wrong?” by Joshua Berlinger at

 http://edition.cnn.com/2017/ 01/04/asia/china-india-icbm/ index.html

But, CNN has given the story a Chinese spin.


The original IPCS  podcast below:

Institute of Peace & Conflict Studies had a podcast Dec 5, 2016 with me on the subject of ‘India’s Nuclear Doctrine’. It is available at


About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Asian geopolitics, China, China military, civil-military relations, Culture, domestic politics, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's China Policy, India's Pakistan Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Army, Nuclear Policy & Strategy, Nuclear Weapons, Pakistan, Pakistan military, Pakistan nuclear forces, SAARC, society, South Asia, Strategic Forces Command, Weapons. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to IPCS podcast on ‘India’s Nuclear Doctrine’

  1. Three points
    1) With demolition devices you are suggesting using Nuclear weapon on own territory in NE. This is same as tactical nuke threat as Pakistan uses but even they speak of using it primarily in desert. So this suggestion by you seems extreme even for nuclear weapons.

    2) Pakistan seeks to counter the revenge of geography by becoming the fasted growing nuke arsenal country.if it can target 200 cites rather than 2 then it has achieved parity despite the geography.

    3) Pakistan is not Bhutan for one reason. Intent. It’s intent to hurt India exceeds its ability. In fact it is the only country with the intent to hurt India based on Ideological reasons which simply cannot be countered. So it seems naive on our part to have alloswed such an adversary to so easily posses and then expand nuclear weapons. We are underestimating the threat from an Islamist entity which is Ideologically hell bent on hurting us.

    • Shaurya says:

      On 1. The way I understand ADM is they are underground/under mountains. The intent is to collapse mountains and stop an invading army. It is also a message, a first warning. So, no to little if any blast effect or radiation above ground.

    • Shaurya says:

      On 3. Agree it was criminal on the part of our national leadership to have allowed Pakistan to nuclearize. Its plutonium program was known to all from early 70’s. Its Uranium program and its ability to fashion centrifuges and process Uranium to above 20% levels was known at least from 1978 to our then leadership.

    • primeargument@ — The point I have stressed from when helping draft the N-doctrine (and in all my writings since) is to keep in mind the ‘exchange ratio’ when considering the credibility of an adversary’s nuclear threats. Pakistan, as I have repeatedly said, will per wargame-tested exchange ratio become extinct as a social organism in an all-out exchange, and so whatever the Pak Army’s intent or even capabilities, GHQR will simply not risk going down that road. Vis a vis China while there are certain similarities to Pak’s position (versus India) — referred to in the pocast, India’s building up its forces for albeit “notional parity” with China, and readying a multi-vector, multi-directional strike axes (on Lop Nor, Beijing, and the Hongkong-Shanghai belt, in particular) will be sufficiently dissuasive to China — which together with the fact of that country’s transiting from a mostly disruptive state to a mainly status quo country, will render it more cautious in crossing the N-weapons use Rubicon.

      ADMs as Shaurya states [and detailed in my ‘Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)’] is radioactivity-eco damage free option as the mountain sides coming down on aggressor PLA group armies will bury and entomb the radioactivity source as well.

      And as re: N-Pak — New Delhi had every opportunity to strike preemptively to prevent its going nuclear. But between a nervy Indian leadership, Pakistani bravado and bombast, and Washington’s actions to scuttle India’s strike options (in, one instance, in cooperation with Israel) — see the relevant section in my book ‘Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security’, we missed that bus.

      • Mr Karnad,

        Thank you for your reply. On your argument on exchange ratio I recall a discussion on Loksabha TV in which a panelist Maj General P K Chakravarti makes the point how Pakistan has bridged the gap with Shaheen Missile which can now reach Andaman hence review of NFU doctrine needed. You also make this point of changing NFU.

        Here it is

        I am as a layman am seeing GOI behavior on ground and coming to conclusion that unless difference in capability is overwhelming the deterrence does not seem to work in India’s favour. Fear of escalation is more with India hence little conventional response against terror aggression.

        So I don’t see any alternative to limiting or rolling back Pakistani nuke capability and not letting it reach parity since its intent to hurt us remains and can’t be removed no matter what carrot we give it. Also restraint against repeated terror attacks invites more terror attacks.

        By the way I agree with you that Indo-US nuke deal is to limit India’s nuke expansion. Bruce Riedel makes this point comparing the deal as an alternative to bringing India under NPT.

        On ADM assuming there are mountains that will come crashing down. The deterrence only works when this is announced. Military planning then involves gathering intelligence on which passes are mined with nukes and avoiding them. As a layman I see this deterrence to have as much value as having anti personnel or anti tank mines. Albet at a bigger scale. It also shows defensive thinking on our part. When passes close that limits our ability to counter attack too.

        A strategy to counter ADM with wild thinking involves:

        1) Finding where the mines are
        2) Removing them as threat by whatever means
        3) Avoiding them while still causing harm to adversary by whatever means

        Whatever means can be:-
        1) Small special force
        2) Air Drop
        3) Missiles
        4) Using friendly territory for supply lines.
        5) Creating safe territory for supply lines, before or during hostility.
        6) Using means of war that don’t require supply lines.
        7) Lobbing the ‘bomb’ if mountains come crashing down(another Mexican standoff)

        I think strategy of lobbing the ‘bomb’ across the border into adversary mainland is just the best deterrence strategy, also simplest and cleanest. Also seems first use has more deterrence value than NFU. That’s why west and Russia have FU and Japan gets worried when US starts talking NFU.

        FU need not necessarily lead to arms race either if hitting sufficient high value targets can be assured. Missile defense also sounds better if part of first use strategy.

  2. primeargument@ — You may care to bear in mind the basic thrust of my argument made in my ‘Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security’ and by me ever since that if the Indian N-forces are built up to take care of the primary China threat, it will automatically take out the secondary threat — Pakistan. But the reverse is not true. This is simple commonsense predicate for N-force structuring which, alas, is missing from GOI’s strategic calculus and thinking! I remember quoting Sir John Slessor, Marshal of the RAF in the Fifties and in the thick of the Cold War. He justified UK’s acquiring an H-Bomb by saying that a big dog takes care of the cat (Russia) and the kittens (China).

    • Mr Karnad,

      Have always understood that argument. In fact I as a citizen would say ability to hurt back should be built against every entity with ability to hurt us and will readily support spending tax dollars on it. We get lecturing and uninvited mediation from every friend or foe. I wouldn’t want our leadership to be easily coerced.

      I wouldn’t want subcontinent to again become playground for playing out geopolitical games. That affects lives of simple common folk trying to make end meet and better their lives.

      • primeargument@– outside intervention happens because over the years New Delhi has given the impression of not just being amenable to external counsel, and pliable but as actually seeking an intermediary role for the UN, US and the West where Kashmir, Pakistan, and terrorism are concerned.

        With re: to your previous post pertaining to ADMs — their flexible and mobile deployment requires, of course, to be announced but their locations never to be disclosed for any reason, in any circumstance until after one or more are triggered by PLA ingress — when at least those locations will become clear!

  3. &^%$#@! says:

    @Primeargument: One cannot get coerced when one has compromised oneself willingly. The rest is plain remote control. Next, I wasn’t aware you paid Indian taxes in dollars (see your sentence: “…and will readily support spending tax dollars on it:). This entire AMD theory is very seriously flawed.

  4. ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

    I thought only our govt. uses propaganda to fool us and the propaganda cannot get any funnier.

    Here is an improvement.


    I would prefer the DF-41 with the Pakis. One that can reach north americas.

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