Delhi’s nuclear ambitions

China, not Pakistan, is the target of India’s deterrence drive, argues Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

The World Today Published 26 May 2016 Updated 27 November 2020 3 minute READ

Dr Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

Director of the Centre for Security, Strategy and Technology (CSST), Observer Research Foundation

Several recent assessments suggest that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is growing and that this continuing trend might see Pakistan as the world’s fifth largest nuclear weapon state. Pakistan appears to be basing its decision to expand its nuclear capability on the potential size of India’s nuclear capabilities, based on India’s presumably larger fissile material stocks.

One worry among observers is that this might lead to an expanded Indian nuclear arsenal and the possibility of a nuclear arms race in South Asia. But India has shown little reaction to the growth of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, and its doctrine suggests that it might not respond.

Though India is engaged in a continuing effort to enhance its nuclear arsenal, this is not directly related to the growth of Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities but a reflection of India’s inadequate deterrent capability vis-à-vis China.

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