Showing posts with label WMD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WMD. Show all posts

30 April 2017

All The Nations Armed With Nuclear Weapons And How Many They Have, In One Chart


When it comes to the threat of nuclear war, 2017 is shaping up to be a watershed moment.

Relations between the U.S. and Russia — the two foremost nuclear superpowers — has reached a “low point” because of the U.S.’s accusations that Russia meddled in the U.S. election and is involved with the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Meanwhile, North Korea draws ever closer to constructing a device that could threaten Washington.

President Donald Trump has also inherited a $1 trillion program to modernize U.S. nukes, and Russia now strains its budget to do the same for its arsenal. (In regard to Russia’s nuclear modernization, Trump has even said, “Let it be an arms race.”)

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists took note of these and other developments in January by advancing its Doomsday Clock 30 seconds. The symbolic shift implies that humanity is now just 2 minutes 30 seconds away from an apocalyptic “midnight.”

World events since January would do little to improve that outlook.

27 April 2017

Japan’s Nuclear Moment

By Liubomir K. Topaloff

Geopolitical trends have combined to open a window of opportunity for Japan to become a nuclear state. 

If Japan wanted to develop nuclear weapons, there would be no better moment than now to start. As the North Korean regime grows desperate to get a more generous ransom against its nuclear program, the threat it poses to Tokyo is multiplying. Last week Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, warned that North Korea is preparing the capability to launch missiles carrying the chemical weapon sarin against Tokyo.

U.S. President Donald Trump further added to the turmoil by declaring last week that an “armada” of American military vessels was heading to the Korean peninsula, only to be contradicted by his own military, which broke the news days later that the “armada” was sailing near Singapore, over 3,000 miles away from the Korean peninsula. At the time Trump boasted of the “armada,” it reportedly was travelling in the opposite direction. So much for the credibility of the American extended deterrence, which should guarantee the security umbrella over Japan, a policy in force since 1975. Now, both South Korea and Japan feel cheated and let down, while the U.S. administration was caught red-handed in a bluff. A truly embarrassing situation, indeed.

25 April 2017

Fusion reactors: Not what they’re cracked up to be


Fusion reactors have long been touted as the “perfect”energy source. Proponents claim that when useful commercial fusion reactors are developed, they would produce vast amounts of energy with little radioactive waste, forming little or no plutonium byproducts that could be used for nuclear weapons. These pro-fusion advocates also say that fusion reactors would be incapable of generating the dangerous runaway chain reactions that lead to a meltdown—all drawbacks to the current fission schemes in nuclear power plants.

And, like fission, a fusion-powered nuclear reactor would have the enormous benefit of producing energy without emitting any carbon to warm up our planet’s atmosphere.

But there is a hitch: While it is, relatively speaking, rather straightforward to split an atom to produce energy (which is what happens in fission), it is a “grand scientific challenge” to fuse two hydrogen nuclei together to create helium isotopes (as occurs in fusion). Our sun constantly does fusion reactions all the time, burning ordinary hydrogen at enormous densities and temperatures. But to replicate that process of fusion here on Earth—where we don’t have the intense pressure created by the gravity of the sun’s core—we would need a temperature of at least 100 million degrees Celsius, or about six times hotter than the sun. In experiments to date the energy input required to produce the temperatures and pressures that enable significant fusion reactions in hydrogen isotopes has far exceeded the fusion energy generated.

23 April 2017

Risk of ‘Accidental’ Nuclear War Growing, UN Research Group Says


The warning comes as the Pentagon begins an extensive review of its nuclear arsenal. 

On Sept., 26, 1983, shortly after midnight, the Soviet Oko nuclear early warning system detected five missiles launched from the United States and headed toward Moscow. Stanislav Petrov, a young lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Air Defense Force, was the duty in the Serpukhov-15 bunker that housed the Oko command center. Petrov was the man in charge of alerting the soviets about a nuclear attack, which would trigger a retaliatory strike. He determined that the Oko had likely malfunctioned and the alarm was false. The Americans would not start World War III with a quintet of missiles (risking total annihilation.) It was a daring judgment call. He was, of course, right. As the U.S. prepares to undertake a new nuclear posture review to determine the future direction of the nation’s nuclear weapons, a report from a United Nations research institute warns that the risks of a catastrophic error — like the one that took place that early morning in 1983 — are growing, not shrinking. Next time, there may be no Lt. Col. Petrov in place to avoid a catastrophe.

On Monday, the U.S. Defense Department commenced a new, massive study into its nuclear weapons arsenal, looking at how weapons are kept, how the U.S. would use them in war and whether they present an intimidating enough threat to other countries not to attack us. The review was mandated by President Trump in a Jan 27, memo.

22 April 2017

Nuclear Weapons in a Post-Christian World

By Paul Bracken

Debate about a nuclear arms race may be missing a moral dimension, and these debates should include all nuclear powers

The second nuclear age takes place in a post-Christian world. New atomic missiles come from North Korea, Pakistan, India, China – with diverse religious and nonreligious traditions. The United States, set to start its own nuclear modernization, now too is a post-Christian nation.

“Post-Christian” here means the decline in primacy of a Christian worldview in politics, especially in the United States and Europe. During the first nuclear age and Cold War, both were Christian societies by this definition. And while Christianity still has many adherents, it lacks the authority it had during the years of the Cold War. This decline of authority means that calculations of self-interest in international politics bear almost all of the weight for restraint and shaping world order. Questions that drove debate about the Cold War arms race are no longer asked with the same passion. Yet these questions haven’t vanished. Who, for example, determines the national interest? Who does the calculations on which self-interest is founded and that determine nuclear armaments buildup?

Any framework that overlooks these moral issues misses a critical dimension of strategic analysis.

That our world is post-Christian, despite nearly a third of the population being Christian, should give us pause, especially about nuclear weapons. As a practical matter the national interest is now decided by politicians and strategy specialists. If the Cold War had been conducted this way it would have been a more dangerous experience, perhaps intolerably so. But it wasn’t. A larger Christian context surrounded the debate over the arms race. It didn’t prevent this arms race, but capped it in important ways. Many people don’t realize that most nuclear weapons proposed during the Cold War were never built. Neutron and cobalt bombs, tsunami makers with bombs on the ocean floor and nuclear weapons in space – all proposed and never built.

21 April 2017

** Indian Nuclear Weapons Are Much More Than Mere Weapons Of Devastation

India pledged to never use its nuclear weapons first. An excerpt from Shivshankar Menon’s Choices: The making of Indian Foreign Policy tells us why.

After publicly testing her nuclear weapons for the first time at Pokhran, India under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government swore by the no-first-use doctrine. For these weapons of destruction beyond human imagination were not just that. They were political armament that could redefine power equations among the nuclear weapon states (NWS) in the nuclear age.

Though India declared that these were the nation’s defence against nuclear threat and blackmail, it was also made clear that if anyone dared use any such weapons against us, retaliation was assured, an unapologetic one at that.

Author and diplomat Shivshankar Menon’s decades of experience in various critical positions that include being the national security adviser to former prime minister Manmohan Singh, and the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, and Sri Lanka and the ambassador to China and Israel, in his book Choices: The making of Indian Foreign Policy, sheds light on the nitty gritty of the reasons behind five crucial decisions that the nation has made, one of which is the thought behind India’s No First Use nuclear policy.

Here is an excerpt:

There has been debate in India over whether the country’s no-first-use commitment adds to or detracts from deterrence. Successive Indian governments that have reviewed the question repeatedly since 1998 have been of the view that a no-first-use policy enhances India’s deterrence efforts.

20 April 2017

** A Bankruptcy of Nuclear Proportions

With the failure of Westinghouse, the future of American nuclear power looks even bleaker. (JEFF FUSCO/Getty Images)


In any given year, a handful of companies file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States. Rarely, however, does one of these filings reverberate beyond the boardroom and into the realm of geopolitics. Those that do — Lehman Brothers in 2008, or several U.S. automakers in 2008-10 — usually involve hundreds of billions of dollars. But the next big geopolitically relevant bankruptcy may be on the horizon, and the amount of money involved is tiny next to the collapses of the past decade.


On March 29, Westinghouse Electric Co., a subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Toshiba, filed for bankruptcy. The U.S.-based nuclear power company has been building two state-of-the-art nuclear power plants in Georgia and South Carolina, but it has been plagued by delays and cost overruns. The filing sent Toshiba scrambling to cut its losses by March 31, the end of Japan's fiscal year. The Japanese conglomerate ended up writing down over $6 billion on its nuclear reactor business. But Toshiba's troubles don't end there; the firm is also working to sell off a portion of its chip manufacturing holdings.

19 April 2017

Recalibrating Deterrence to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism

by Robert S. Litwak

Pakistan and North Korea are both on the verge of significantly increasing their stocks of nuclear weapons and weapons-usable materials, necessitating a recalibration of deterrent strategies. Nevertheless, effective strategies of deterrence on the state level remain the prerequisite for countering the non-state threat of nuclear terrorism.

18 April 2017

*** A Disruptive Nuclear China and India’s Imperatives

By Bharat Karnad

The United States policies and nuclear security literature have been the model and set the precedent for other countries to follow in the nuclear realm. Washington has striven to delegitimize the possession of nuclear weapons by less developed countries, to sustain a global nuclear order based on the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and to control nuclear developments especially in the subcontinent. By using different metrics of security the concerns and motivations of the five NPT-recognized nuclear weapon states (NWS) – US, Russia, United Kingdom, France, and China, the so-called P-5, have been de-linked from those of the non-NWS and the NPT non-signatories, such as India and Pakistan. This unhelpful tendency is beginning to be mended. A recent ‘Threat Assessment Brief’ by the influential Arms Control Association in Washington, DC, the leading non-proliferation lobby, for the first time expressly concedes the connection between what the US does as the leading nuclear weapons power, and how – by way of response calculi — it shapes the thinking of the Chinese, Indian, and Pakistani governments and determines the quality, quantity, posture, deployment patterns, and growth of their nuclear assets.[1]

This admission of the action-reaction effects of US nuclear policies on other nuclear weapon states is a good start. But there’s another, more important, reality that remains in the shadows — the collusive arrangements among the P-5 to not just overlook but actually condone each other’s past and continuing policies of deliberate nuclear proliferation. It served their respective national interests while imperilling the disarmament goal the P-5 publicly swear by.

The Obama Administration, contrary to its “weapons free world” rhetoric, earmarked one trillion dollars over the next 30 years to modernize and upgrade the US strategic triad, with a new strategic bomber, a more silent and lethal nuclear-powered ballistic nuclear missile firing submarine (SSBN) and a land-based advanced inter-continental range ballistic missile (ICBM).[2] Indeed, the US has spent some $8.25 billion in just improving one B61-12 atomic bomb.[3] To neutralize US and NATO conventional military superiority, Russia has emphasized a beefed up strategic muscle with induction of technologically impressive weapons and delivery platforms, including the new Topol-M ICBM, the Yassen-class SSBN, and the refurbished Tu-180 ‘Blackjack strategic bomber.[4] China’s strategic arsenal is, likewise, undergoing rapid growth and technological updating, inclusive of the DF-41 ICBM with multiple warheads, the Jin-class SSBN, and the H-6K bomber.[5] The British and French nuclear forces are alike in that, while smaller in size than during the Cold War years, feature advanced platforms and thermonuclear warheads for their attack systems (such as the British Trident SSBN).[6] This short summary of the state of the modernization of the P-5 strategic forces is to suggest that the Bomb will remain, for a very long time, the final arbiter of international relations. This is the context in which China’s unbridled nuclear proliferation policy abetted by Washington’s power politics considerations will be examined and India’s strategic imperatives located.

17 April 2017

** Toward A Nuclear Firewall: Bridging the NPT’s Three Pillars


Summary: There is no clear, internationally accepted definition of what activities or technologies constitute a nuclear weapons program. This lack of definition encumbers nuclear energy cooperation and complicates peaceful resolution of proliferation disputes.


There is no clear, internationally accepted definition of what activities or technologies constitute a nuclear weapons program. This lack of definition encumbers nuclear energy cooperation and complicates peaceful resolution of proliferation disputes. A “nuclear firewall” could enhance the distinction between nuclear weapons–related activities and other non-weapons uses of nuclear technology. Applying a firewall framework for analyzing nuclear programs could improve international governance of nuclear technology and facilitate peaceful nuclear cooperation and disarmament. It could also expand the time and means available to key states and international bodies, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency and United Nations Security Council, to diplomatically resolve impending proliferation crises.

Defining Nuclear Weapons

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which establishes the norms and rules that guide the international management of nuclear technology, does not define the term nuclear weapon. Nor does it identify the evidence that would determine whether a state is seeking to manufacture or acquire nuclear weapons.

Such definitional and analytic ambiguity exacerbates the task of distinguishing whether components, equipment, nuclear materials, and facilities are related to nuclear weapons programs or, instead, are for purely peaceful applications of nuclear technology. It also complicates national and international deliberations over the legitimate boundaries for peaceful civil nuclear applications, as well as the handling of proliferation risks and responses.

16 April 2017

PCS DISCUSSION India’s Nuclear Strategy

Dr Vipin Narang

An overview of the remarks made at 'India's Nuclear Strategy', the second discussion in IPCS' 2017 series, 'Evolving Discourses of Security in International Politics'.

Mitsui Career Development Associate Professor of Political Science, MIT

There has been no change in the declaratory Indian nuclear doctrine, and there will not be any foreseeable change in it. However, Indian nuclear strategy may evolve and there are hints at a very important potential evolution in Shivshankar Menon’s book, Choices: Inside the making of India’s Foreign Policy, which are illustrated in some key paragraphs under the chapter on ‘No first Use’. What is important to understand is that there is a very important distinction between a declaratory doctrine and nuclear strategy. Strategy is about the employment of a doctrine and there are a lot of strategies in use currently that are consistent with India’s declaratory nuclear doctrine.

The declaratory doctrine has its roots in the 1999 draft which is a meandering, very long set of ideas. It is the only actual fleshing out of what India’s declaratory doctrine might have looked like. The official release in January 2003, however, comprised of only eight bullet points; the much detailed official doctrine being classified. The declaratory doctrine has several key pillars, the primary pillar being the no first use (NFU) clause.

Under the NFU clause, India declares that it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict. There is also a "no use against non-nuclear weapons state" clause. However, the NFU pillar is already qualified in the official doctrine, which also mentions a potential nuclear retaliation against chemical or biological weapons. Thus, is the event of the use of chemical or biological weapons by an adversary, India reserves to right to retaliate with nuclear weapons.

The other key doctrinal pillar is associated with the idea of 'massive retaliation'. While the draft doctrine used the phrase "punitive retaliation," the official doctrine frames it as "nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage." It has long been presumed that this phrase meant counter-value targeting. India did not have the necessary forces or the accuracy to do anything but counter-value targeting. And in any case, India is trying to deter nuclear use against it. It doesn't need nuclear weapons to deter a conventional attack against it, like Pakistan does. In this scenario, therefore, India’s massive retaliation, counter-value strategy made a lot of sense.

However, the evolution of the South Asian security dynamic effectively neutralised India’s mainstay conventional doctrine, also known as the Sundarji Doctrine. The events leading up to Operation Parakram forced a rethink of India’s conventional options to a more usable form that could enable India to retaliate against perceived Pakistani provocations. The usable option, which eventually took the shape of the ‘Cold Start’ doctrine, formed a part of the action-reaction cycle, in which, as a response, Pakistan took to developing tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs). While the development of TNWs by Pakistan may not necessarily have been triggered by Cold Start, the doctrine did add fuel to the fire. The myth of Cold Start was even worse for India because while there was no real development of a more usable option on India’s side, the doctrine was used by Pakistan to justify the development of TNWs.

The development of TNWs created a new dilemma for Indian nuclear strategists. The threat to retaliate massively in the event of a demonstration shot by Pakistan on its own soil, on Indian forces or on logistics or bridgeheads behind it, created credibility problems for India’s strategy. This basically left India with three options - of which one was an option of no-response. The second option, which probably developed in the late 2000s, was the idea of a tit-for-tat or proportional or a tit-for-tat-plus retaliation, where India would still respond through a counter-value strike but against a military base or perhaps smaller population centres. While the advantage of this strategy is credibility, the significant disadvantage is that India would then give the nuclear initiative back to Pakistan, exposing its own cities and strategic centres to Pakistani strategic retaliation. The third option in theory is counter-force, where India moves to eliminate Pakistan’s strategic nuclear forces and removes the nuclear overhang. This was thought to be an impossible option for India because of the strategy’s destabilising effect and also the fact that it would require a massive build-up of arms and forces, which is a difficult option for regional powers with limited resources.

One of the corollaries associated with a counter-force strategy is whether a country can afford to go second with such a strategy. Counter-force has always been associated with pre-emptive use. The counter-value strategy on the other hand gives more space for a relaxed and absolute NFU policy. With counter-force, however, it becomes imperative to go first.

In India’s case, the real change in thinking has been on the grounds of this shift in strategy, which is made evident in Menon’s book. In one of his operative paragraphs, Menon uses the term "comprehensive first strike" against Pakistan. Comprehensive first strike in nuclear vocabulary means strategic counter-force. The natural corollary for that is an exemption for pre-emptive use. The statements made by Indian officials over the years, including Manohar Parrikar, BS Nagal and Shivshankar Menon, indicate that there has been at least some thinking at the highest levels of the Indian nuclear strategic community that pre-emption is consistent with NFU. Nagal talks about pre-emption as one of the four options within his recommended strategy of ambiguity. Pre-emption is in fact the operative concept in his strategy. Menon, in his book, has very clearly identified an area where the declared doctrine would not constrain India in declaring a pre-emptive strike.

Menon’s chapter on NFU is probably the most authoritative writing on the issue that has emerged since India tested nuclear weapons in 1998. It is still not known as to how far India got in moving towards strategic counter-force, or if this is just wishful thinking on Menon’s part. But, there is some evidence on the capability side that is suggestive of this shift. The development of MIRVs and BMD that have assured retaliatory logic, operative towards China, can also be used for a counter-force strike against Pakistan. This can be used as tantalising evidence of a decoupling of strategies against China and Pakistan. These are still however unconfirmed theories.

In terms of the implications, the primary question that arises is if India can do this. For India, disarming Pakistan’s sea-based leg will be far easier than eliminating its land-based strategic forces. The other question is if it is a good idea. A counter-force strategy is destabilising because of the inherent first strike instability, and therefore these elements need to be debated. While the doctrine is not expected to undergo any change, there has been authoritative thinking on the issue which cannot be easily discounted.

Col (Retd) Ajai Shukla

Columnist, Business Standard

There are some elements in India’s nuclear doctrine that lack credibility in important quarters, specifically the doctrinal threat of 'massive retaliation'. According to conventional understanding in India, the unfolding of any nuclear crisis between India and Pakistan follows a very short and reassuring narrative. This includes: a terror attack from Pakistan, Indian conventional retaliation featuring perhaps a 'Cold Start' offensive strike that makes rapid headway into Pakistani territory, Pakistan evaluating its declared option of a TNW demonstration strike on Indian military spearheads, and then being deterred by India’s doctrinal commitment of massive retaliation. In the worst case scenario, in the event of TNW use by Pakistan, India retaliates by taking out a couple of Pakistani cities, after which Pakistan folds. The discussion however fails to go beyond this. Pakistan, as per the Indian narrative, is just cultivating irrationality. In the Indian narrative, Pakistani restraint would remain in play despite huge territorial losses, large-scale destruction of its war-fighting machinery and the discrediting of the Pakistan military.

The Pakistani version is unsurprisingly a different narrative that includes: Pakistani terror attack (of course, denied), Indian conventional retaliation across the India-Pakistan border, Pakistan blocking the cold strike with its sectoral and strategic reserves without crossing the conventional threshold. In the event of Pakistani failure to halt Indian troops with conventional forces, the use of a single demonstration TNW strike in an area where damage could be limited both in terms of the civilian infrastructure and people as well as Indian forces to prevent causing undue provocation. The cautiousness of Indian decision-makers enhanced by international pressure at that stage and coupled with the moral aspect of counter-value retaliation would force India to forego that option.

Therefore, the threat of “massive counter-value retaliation” is not a credible doctrine for India against Pakistan. Menon’s interpretation however offers a different narrative. Menon provides more usable options to Indian planners in the form of comprehensive counter-force strikes; even first strikes, in a situation where the adversary’s use of nuclear weapons appears inevitable.

The crucial question however is whether India has the wherewithal, the information systems, or the capabilities to actually execute a comprehensive counter-force strike against Pakistan. The short answer to this would be 'no', the accurate answer would be ‘not yet’.

India’s doctrine and strategy have always been ahead of capability in both the conventional and strategic realms. But India is also playing catch up slowly. To turn Menon’s proposed strategy of comprehensive counterforce strikes into executionable capabilities will take more time. With Pakistan racing to put in place a nuclear triad, the possibility of a disarming first strike is receding, made more difficult by the diversification of Pakistan’s delivery means that include the MIRV trials, proliferation of TNW launchers, the Babur ground launch cruise missile, and the Ra’ad air launch cruise missile. Due to this increase in nuclear delivery platforms, taking out strategic ground launch platforms will still leave India open to a potential third strike.

Given that many Pakistani nuclear strike assets are located in the vicinity of major towns, there is difficulty in differentiating between counter-force and counter-value strikes, with one containing elements of the other. India’s ISR capabilities, missile accuracy, MIRV capability and anti-ballistic missile (ABM) capabilities are picking up. But even so, India still lacks the capability to undertake a “splendid first strike” that disarms Pakistan completely. However, Pakistan's second and third strike capabilities would be seriously eroded if an India strike were complemented by US and Israeli capabilities. As of now, this would be a pre-requisite for any viable first strike against Pakistan.

Even so, there is still merit in choosing an option of a disarming first strike against Pakistan over the option of a massive counter-value strike. Even an unsuccessful and incomplete counter-force strike would reduce the number of warheads being fired at India in the inevitable third strike, and at least some of these would be neutralised by India’s growing ABM capability.

While all of this could be debated, with valid arguments to be made from both sides, Shivshankar Menon should be given credit for enriching the moribund debate on India’s nuclear strategy by presenting a number of additional workable options. What is significant about Menon’s book is that his words reflect upon a potential marriage of the NFU doctrine with a pre-emptive counter-force strategy, such that the latter appears to be consistent with the doctrine. Menon’s new strategy represents the first indications of a remarkable shift in thinking amongst policy-makers at the highest level.

Rapporteured by Niharika Tagotra, Researcher, IPCS 

China and North Korea's Nukes

By Peter Huessy

On April 4, 2017, General John Hyten, the Commander of the United States Strategic Command, confirmed at least four key North Korean threat developments.

First, in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General Hyten said the North Koreans “already have the capability to deploy an intercontinental ballistic missile” that can “range” the continental United States.

Second, General Hyten explained that North Korea might have the capability to miniaturize nuclear warheads as he assumes any missile launch could be armed with a nuclear warhead aimed at the United States.

Third, General Hyten warned that the February 11 North Korean missile launches are now utilizing solid rocket fuel, enabling their missiles to be launched with little notice, avoiding the lengthy fueling process of liquid fueled missiles.

Fourth, General Hyten noted the North Korean launch site was new, further underscoring that monitoring North Korea ballistic missile launches is becoming increasingly difficult.

Fifth, and this is the only “good news,” the General concluded it is unclear whether at this time the North Korean government can effectively “mate” a nuclear warhead with a ballistic missile.

However, as General Hyten also explained, that uncertainty gives him limited flexibility. He notes that every time the North Korean’s launch a ballistic missile, he has to ready forces to prevent a potentially nuclear-armed ballistic missile from reaching the continental United States.

ICM Policy Paper: Weapons of Mass Destruction

While the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) may seem antiquated and unlikely to materialize, the mere existence of WMD remains one of the paramount threats to mankind. Nuclear weapons present not only the biggest existential threat, but also the biggest gap in the multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation architecture. In this context, on March 27, 2017, more than 100 countries launched the first UN talks on a global nuclear weapons ban.

This policy paper explores key challenges and developments in the field of non-proliferation and disarmament of WMD, with an emphasis on nuclear arms. Based on extensive consultations with representatives of states, various UN entities, and civil society, as well as subject-matter experts, this paper details recommendations laid out in the ICM’s final report, published in September 2016. To revitalize the UN disarmament and non-proliferation machinery, it offers a number of recommendations for a secretary-general willing to lead this effort: 

Strengthen the UN disarmament machinery; 

Support the IAEA’s increasing responsibilities; 

Implement Security Council Resolution 1540 and other paths to innovative multilateralism; 

Assess the role of new technologies; and Engage civil society. 

To stand with those who are committed to working multilaterally and reforming the international community, we are asking people to use the hashtag #MultilateralismMatters. For more, including sample tweets and graphics, read IPI’s Social Media Toolkit here. For other IPI news, events, and publications about weapons of mass destruction, see here.

15 April 2017

** A Disruptive Nuclear China and India’s Imperatives

By Bharat Karnad

Published as “In a Nuclear Imbroglio, a Disruptive China and India’s Imperatives are Stark Realities” in Global Dialogue Review , Volume 5, Number 1, January/February/March 2017

The United States policies and nuclear security literature have been the model and set the precedent for other countries to follow in the nuclear realm. Washington has striven to delegitimize the possession of nuclear weapons by less developed countries, to sustain a global nuclear order based on the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and to control nuclear developments especially in the subcontinent. By using different metrics of security the concerns and motivations of the five NPT-recognized nuclear weapon states (NWS) – US, Russia, United Kingdom, France, and China, the so-called P-5, have been de-linked from those of the non-NWS and the NPT non-signatories, such as India and Pakistan. This unhelpful tendency is beginning to be mended. A recent ‘Threat Assessment Brief’ by the influential Arms Control Association in Washington, DC, the leading non-proliferation lobby, for the first time expressly concedes the connection between what the US does as the leading nuclear weapons power, and how – by way of response calculi — it shapes the thinking of the Chinese, Indian, and Pakistani governments and determines the quality, quantity, posture, deployment patterns, and growth of their nuclear assets.[1]

This admission of the action-reaction effects of US nuclear policies on other nuclear weapon states is a good start. But there’s another, more important, reality that remains in the shadows — the collusive arrangements among the P-5 to not just overlook but actually condone each other’s past and continuing policies of deliberate nuclear proliferation. It served their respective national interests while imperilling the disarmament goal the P-5 publicly swear by.

Syria and Chemical Weapons. What Now?

The Syrian government is accused of using nerve gas in a recent attacks on a rebel village in Idlib province. This would be a clear violation of the 2013 Russian brokered deal where Syria surrendered all its chemical weapons in return for no foreign intervention (as the U.S. has promised) because chemical weapons were used. An August 21 2013 attack used nerve gas to kill over 1,400 people in a rebel controlled village outside Damascus. The evidence was overwhelming for the 2013 attack and this latest one in Idlib is equally incriminating. This time the United States quickly retaliated by launching sixty cruise missiles (from two warships in the Mediterranean) at the Syrian Shayrat air base in Homs province. Most of the Syrian air strikes in northern Syria are flown out of Shayat, which is now inoperable. Russia and Iran, the two major allies of the Assads, are under pressure to make a suitable response. Initially both nations simply condemned this violation of Syrian sovereignty and warned of serious consequences. This could be serious, or not. Iran has been calling for the destruction of the United States (and Israel) since the 1980s but so far, aside from a few terror attacks, it’s been mostly talk. Russia has become more hostile to the United States since a new government took power in 1999 and revived the old Cold War attitude that the Americans were out to destroy Russia in any number of devious ways and were responsible for most of the internal and external problems Russia faced. As with Iran, this attitude had more to do with local politics (keeping an unpopular ruler in power) than with reality. The “blame America” angle only works if you can convince your people that the U.S. will back off if confronted. That’s what happened when Iran (in 2012) and Russia (in 2016) openly intervened to support the Assads. The Russians were quite proud of themselves for how they get the Americans to back down in 2013 in the aftermath of the Assads using nerve gas. Neither Russia nor Iran want outright war with the United States, even though Russia has threatened to use nukes against the United States to discourage too much military support for Ukraine (which Russia is trying to annex parts of). Russia may be able to get some support (in forcing the Americans to back off) by appealing to the NATO countries that criticized the recent American cruise missile attack. In other words Russia and Iran don’t have any good options here.

13 April 2017

India is not moving to counterforce doctrine

Yusuf Unjhawala

If India has precise intelligence on Pakistani transporter erector launchers, it can quickly take them out using Brahmos missiles which travel at three times the speed of sound or any other conventional munition. Photo: HT

There has been a lot of speculation on India’s nuclear doctrine since Vipin Narang, a nuclear strategist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said, “There is increasing evidence that India will not allow Pakistan to go first,” at a conference on nuclear policy hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for Internation Peace, a Washington-based think tank. Referring to an India-Pakistan war scenario, Narang added that India’s opening salvo may not be conventional strikes trying to pick off just Nasr batteries in the theatre, but a full comprehensive counterforce strike that attempts to completely disarm Pakistan of its nuclear weapons.

This is a big claim. The pieces of evidence cited for this claim are: India’s focus on developing highly accurate missiles, acceleration of ballistic missile defence (BMD) and the development of multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (Mirv) capabilities for its missiles. None of these moves sufficiently explains a possible change in India’s nuclear doctrine.

First, the development of accurate missiles is being undertaken as India’s yield of nuclear weapons is 15-20KT (kilotons) for its fission warheads and 250KT for thermonuclear warheads. The destruction caused by nuclear warheads goes down exponentially as the distance increases from the centre of the blast, hence the move towards improving the accuracy of weapon delivery systems.

11 April 2017



Most debates on South Asian security strategy tend to not attract much attention amongst U.S. policymakers except during the occasional crisis. Warnings about arms racing, belligerence, and nuclear risks between India and Pakistan have become so commonplace that they elicit yawns or eye rolls. Some aspects of the rivalry (namely the border ceremony) have even been parodied in a sitcom. It is noteworthy then that this past weekend The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal both felt compelled to write about potential changes in India’s nuclear strategy and doctrine.

The impetus for these articles emerged from the recent Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., where MIT professor Vipin Narang suggested that India might be rethinking its current nuclear strategy and considering “preemptive nuclear counterforce.” Other notable analysts, Ajai Shukla, Shashank Joshi, and Ankit Panda, all lent support to this assessment. The status quo “retaliation only doctrine” is relatively uncontroversial and ostensibly defensive in nature because it proposes the use of nuclear weapons only in response to WMD use against India. However, Narang points out that recent statements from senior Indian government and defense officials suggest India could be shifting toward a counter-force strategy. Such a strategy would seek to target and disarm Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and related military infrastructure by destroying them with nuclear strikes. Whether in the form of a preemptive first strike or a massive second strike, this strategy is inherently more offensive than the current counter-value strategy, which targets Pakistani cities in response to a nuclear attack against India.

New Nuclear C2 Should Be Distributed & Multi-Domain: STRATCOM Deputy


NATIONAL HARBOR: Just like the individual ICBMs, bombers, and submarines it oversees, the nation’s nuclear command-and-control architecture is aging Cold War tech that needs replacement. But if we just build newer versions of today’s command posts, communications networks, satellites, and so on, we’ll miss a major opportunity. Instead, the deputy chief of Strategic Command said here today, the US could create a system that’s both more survivable and more seamless, one that can integrate operations around the world, with allies, and across the domains of land, sea, air, space, and cyber.

Strategic Command is “very much in lockstep” with initiatives like the Army’s Multi-Domain Battle concept and the Air Force’s Multi-Domain Command and Control, said Vice Adm. Charles Richard, although NC2 will remain a separate system. STRATCOM’s also “very supportive” of Air Force Global Strike Command‘s newly launched NC2 effort, he said.

Why is the nuclear force so interested in new concepts? Deterrence has evolved from the two-player chess game of the Cold War to a multi-player, multi-board monstrosity like the 3D chess from Star Trek, Richard told the Sea-Air-Space conference here today, and our command-and-control must evolve to keep up. The existing NC2 architecture was shaped by fundamental design choices “that made sense in the ’60s and ’70s,” he said. Today, US forces must “integrate timing and tempo of operations, in real time, across multiple domains and theaters, in synergy with allies and partners… Whoever does this first will win.”

9 April 2017

*** Decoding India’s Nuclear Status


There has been much speculation that India might be reconsidering its no first use strategy, but such talk has found few takers in the government. For India, the only true purpose of nuclear weapons are as deterrents. 

India has been a declared nuclear weapon power for almost two decades. And yet, in the intervening period, not very much information has come to light about its nuclear program. The absence of information is deliberate and may even be necessary. Ambiguity confers advantages, particularly when a country has a small nuclear arsenal. Whatever the exact numbers, India’s nuclear weapon stockpile is probably smaller than every declared nuclear weapon power, other than North Korea. This has helped to keep down costs and minimise security risks, while maintaining a basic nuclear deterrent. 

But because a small nuclear arsenal has required a great deal of secrecy and ambiguity, the absence of information about India’s nuclear program has opened space for considerable speculation by observers, including in academic circles, both in India and abroad. Some of that speculation is informed, while much is extrapolated from scant statements made by current and former Indian officials. Some of the recent commentary on India’s changing nuclear strategy must be seen in this context. But it is important to highlight what we know about India’s nuclear strategy and why it matters, before analysing some of the present discussions about India’s future nuclear intentions. 

India’s Nuclear Debate Has Only Just Begun

By Harsh V. Pant

India needs to reassess its nuclear doctrine sooner or later, current debates notwithstanding. 

An interesting debate is taking place in India on the future of its nuclear doctrine. A number of factors have added a new sense of urgency to this debate – a center-right government in New Delhi that is not shy of dramatically recalibrating Indian foreign and security policy combined with growing concern among Indian strategic thinkers over Pakistan’s reliance on tactical nuclear weapons, as well as Pakistan-China collusion. These factors are rapidly closing India’s room for maneuverability and an ongoing power transition in the Indo-Pacific whereby the Trump Administration is indicating that it may not be averse to new nuclear powers emerging in Asia hasn’t helped.

Though the BJP-led government has so far not proposed any change in the doctrine or the No First Use (NFU) on which India’s declaratory nuclear doctrine is based, it had promised in its 2014 election manifesto to “study in detail India’s nuclear doctrine, and revise and update it, to make it relevant to challenges of current times.” Manohar Parrikar, who was until just three weeks ago India’s defense minister, has questioned India’s NFU policy on nuclear weapons, asking, “Why a lot of people say that India has No First Use policy… I should say I am a responsible nuclear power and I will not use it irresponsibly… And as an individual, I get a feeling sometime why do I say that I am not going to use it first. I am not saying that you have to use it first just because you don’t decide that you don’t use it first. The hoax can be called off.”