January 6, 2012

Lyons Australian Nuclear Paper - References to India

India's long range nuclear deliverers - the Agnis and K-15

An excellent assessment by Rod Lyon, a Program Director at the the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra has written a ground breaking paper A delicate issue: Asia's nuclear future Monday, 14 December 2009 ("Download PDF" version is free) . Some of it deals with India and much with Pakistan.The summary includes: "The world stands on the cusp of a new era in nuclear relations—one in which Asia is likely to become the dominant influence on global nuclear arrangements...The report concludes that Australian strategic policy should retain the flexibility to accommodate a range of possible Asian nuclear futures, striking a balance between its ordering and hedging strategies during a possible turbulent era in regional security."

I will address issues for Australia in a subsequent blog or journal article. Some interesting references to India include:

- page.10 - "But there’s the rub: just as some banks and financial institutions were deemed ‘too big to fail’ in the recent global financial crisis, aren’t some possible proliferators going to be ‘too big to sanction’ if we hit a nuclear tipping point in East Asia? For example, is Australia going to apply strong sanctions against a proliferating Japan, one of our strongest trade partners? After all, current evidence suggests that a great-power proliferator is already treated differently from others. India is the case in point."- p.12 "If we were to look at the case study of the India–Pakistan nuclear relationship—which is grounded in an enduring strategic rivalry, and therefore not ‘typical’ of the broader nuclear relationships in Asia—it’s a moot point whether Pakistani behaviour has been much altered by the ‘deterrence’ policies of India. Indeed, the case seems to show that Pakistan doesn’t even accept a long‑term condition of strategic asymmetry with India, and that it intends to use its nuclear weapons as an ‘equaliser’ against India’s larger conventional forces by building a nuclear arsenal larger than the Indian arsenal arrayed against it."- p.14 - Excellent "Table 1: Current, planned and proposed civil nuclear energy programs in Asia" including numbers and total Mw of Indian reactors.

- p.15 - "China has an arsenal much closer to the 250–400 warhead range, for a ratio of about 1:20 with both the US and Russia. India has perhaps 70–100 warheads (for a ratio of 1:3 or 1:4 with China). Japan has none. Pakistan’s arsenal is generally thought to be somewhere in the 70–100 warhead range (a 1:1 ratio with India), although reports suggest that it has been moving vigorously recently to enhance the quantity and quality of its weapons."

- p.19 "India sees a strategic future in which it ‘escapes’ the localised strategic rivalry it has with Pakistan and plays a larger role upon the bigger stage of the Asian theatre. It knows that its nuclear arsenal isn’t really about Pakistan, but about the bigger issue of its place at the ‘Asian table’. How much asymmetry can New Delhi tolerate, and with whom?"

[more]"...It isn’t entirely clear that Russia and India are indifferent to the growth of Chinese power. As one Indian strategic analyst has observed:

"for India to limit itself well short of the nuclear weapons strength of the second‑tier nuclear power, China, with some 500 warheads/weapons, is to accept a status on par with that of Pakistan by default … The logic of nuclear technology dictates that a big country, like India … will not only acquire an arsenal it thinks is militarily adequate, but one that it feels will do justice to its size, resources and potential, and will help realize its ambitions. "(Karnad 2005:552)

"... As a recent assessment concluded: India and Pakistan each claim minimum nuclear deterrence policies; but in South Asia minimum deterrence does not call for a finite ceiling on the development of nuclear weapons and delivery systems … [It] is a dynamic concept that changes with the evolving threat environment. The ‘minimum’ label has more to do with Indian and Pakistani desires not to provoke nuclear-armed adversaries (China and India, respectively) or the United States and other nonproliferation stalwarts. (Khan and Lavoy 2008:229)"

- p.31 - "It is possible, of course, that non‑state actors might yet turn out to be much more serious nuclear players. At one level, they might be ongoing strategic irritants that provoke strategic confrontations between nuclear-armed states. The terrorist attacks on the Indian parliament in December 2001 and on Mumbai in November 2008 illustrate the strategic challenges that non‑state groups can bring to an Indian–Pakistani relationship already fraught with a legacy of tensions."

- p.32 - "It’s reasonable to assume that there are provisions for ‘mating’ and deploying some number of nuclear warheads in particular crisis scenarios. Logically, those scenarios probably involve a crisis between India and Pakistan, for the simple reason that ‘the nuclear dimension of regional security in South Asia is essentially a deterrence construct between India and Pakistan’ (Khan 2009). Media reports suggest that some US officials worried most about the Mumbai terrorist incident precisely because it might generate a set of escalatory tensions that could result in such circumstances, fully mated and deployed Pakistani warheads being more vulnerable to ambush and theft than their separated components might be under normal, peacetime conditions."

These are just some of the sections focusing on India. There is so much more in Lyon's paper about the international nuclear weapons framework and recent concepts and conditions in other Asian regions. The full paper is here.