Home Contact Us  
   

Nuclear - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#5300, 19 June 2017
 

Three Years of the Modi Government

Indian Nuclear Policy and Diplomacy
Manpreet Sethi
Senior Fellow and Project Leader, Nuclear Security, Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS), New Delhi
 

Democracies often undergo swings in policies with a change of government. India’s nuclear policy, however, in both its dimensions - weapons and power generation - has enjoyed broad support across political parties. The pace of development of these programmes may have varied depending on the personal inclination of the leadership, but the general direction of the policies has mostly remained the same irrespective of the party in power. India’s ability to conduct nuclear tests in 1998 was enabled by the continued support given to the programme by leaders of all hues while occupying the prime minister’s chair between 1948-98.

More recently, the broad-based consensus on nuclear weapons-related issues has been demonstrated through the continuing validation of India’s nuclear doctrine. This was first articulated in 1999 (and officially accepted with slight revisions in 2003) under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by Prime Minister (PM) Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The change of administration in 2004 with the coming in of the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government headed by Dr Manmohan Singh did not lead to any alteration in the doctrine over his terms (2004-2014). Subsequently, PM Narendra Modi has yet again expressed his support for the doctrine despite the noise made by his party during the election campaign about a possible doctrinal revision.

The PM’s endorsement of the doctrine, especially its attribute of no first use (NFU) early in his tenure was the right move to set the record straight on India’s nuclear strategy. Given that India believes that nuclear weapons are meant to deter use of similar weapons, the principle of NFU is grounded in sound political and military logic. Using them first is sure to bring back nuclear retaliation from India’s nuclear-armed adversaries, both of whom have secure second strike capabilities. Hopefully, India’s leadership will continue to understand and uphold this simple logic even as India is passing through not-so-benign nuclear developments in the neighbourhood. Even if the adversaries develop ostensibly counterforce capabilities, the NDA government would do the country a favour by steadfastly declining to go down the route of nuclear war-fighting. 

Instead of effecting any doctrinal changes, the focus of India’s nuclear strategy must be on capability build-up to further the survivability and reliability of the nuclear arsenal and to lend credence to the promise of assured retaliation. To its credit, the NDA government has retained the momentum on capability as evident in the regular testing of delivery systems. Its focus has also rightly been on the full operationalisation of INS Arihant as well as making future additions more potent to enhance the credibility of deterrence.

As regards India’s nuclear power programme, the NDA inherited the major breakthrough achieved through a full operationalisation of the Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, including a waiver granted by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to its members to do nuclear trade with India. The UPA had already captured the new opportunities through the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on peaceful nuclear cooperation with as many as 11 countries by 2011. However, the nuclear accident at Fukushima and the subsequent enactment of the Civil Liability Nuclear Damage Act (CLNDA), which was imbued with many strict provisions that the nuclear industry considered unfriendly for investment, significantly slowed India’s ability to encash the cooperation agreements.

On its occupation of the seat of power, the NDA - whose main constituent party, the BJP, when in opposition had been responsible for the stridency of the CLNDA - began to take steps to resolve some of the hurdles to the rapid expansion of India’s nuclear energy programme. In order to address liability concerns, the government issued new clarifications on the provisions in 2015, besides creating an insurance pool to assure nuclear industry in 2016. PM Modi also used his visits to the major nuclear supplier countries to allay their fears. However, the results have been slow, running into further problems because of the flux in international nuclear industry. Even as price negotiations with AREVA were being worked out, it was taken over by Electricite de France (EdF). Organisational and procedural realignments at their end are sure to slow the finalisation of the contract with India. Meanwhile, in another blow, Westinghouse declared bankruptcy earlier this year, placing in jeopardy India’s cooperation with the Toshiba-Westinghouse consortium.

Owing to these developments, India has not yet been able to start construction of any imported reactor. However, in an attempt to keep some of the targets on track, the NDA government has approved the construction of 10 indigenous nuclear power plants of 700 MWe each. This is a good move and will boost the local nuclear industry. In fact, it would be best if the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), the national nuclear builder and operator, is able to show the capacity to build these plants with no financial overruns and time delays since nuclear power is today competing in the mind space with fast expanding renewable energy.

One major disappointment for the NDA has been its inability to secure NSG membership for India. On this issue, they seem to have run into the China Great Wall even as proactive Indian nuclear diplomacy was able to bring around some of the other countries that had earlier expressed reservations oabout India’s inclusion. China, however, remains intransigent for now and some clever diplomacy will be required to make a breakthrough here.

One such idea could be to prepare India to step into the nuclear export market with its own wares. India could be a nuclear supplier even without being an NSG member. It certainly has the requisite expertise especially in small and mid-sized nuclear reactors that could be suitable for many countries. In case the need for financial and fuel support to enable export of Indian nuclear reactors is felt, India could explore the possibility of partnering with some other nuclear suppliers such as Rosatom or even a Chinese company. In the next two years, the NDA administration could put in place a nuclear export strategy for India and provide a new direction and momentum to national nuclear policy and diplomacy.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
 
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Indo-Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within


OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
The Bomb Banned: By and For the NNWS, For Now

Stabilising Deterrence: Doctrines Score Over Numbers

Chinese Responsibility on DPRK: No ‘Theory’, Immutable Reality

New NPR: Can It Break New Ground?

US-North Korea Military Swashbuckling and China's Role

Nuclear Ban Treaty Conference and Universal Nuclear Disarmament

Forecast 2017: Unclear Nuclear Pathways

Limits of Practising Nuclear Brinksmanship

Presidential Elections and US Nuclear Policy: Clinton Vs Trump

Preparing for Radiological Emergencies and Terrorism

Motivating Pakistan to Prevent Cross–Border Terrorism: With a Little Help from Friends

JCPOA’s First Anniversary: Significance and Future Challenges

Entry into the NSG: Getting Past the Doorman

Same Age, Different Behaviour: Nuclear India and Nuclear Pakistan

Nuclear Security Summit Process: Progress and Prognosis

Pak's Nuclear 'Normality' through External Deals: Chasing a Chimera

Forecast 2016: Nuclear Issues That Will Dominate the Year

India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers

Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route

Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

Uranium and Nuclear Power: Three Indian Stories

A Strategic Review for India

Indian Ratification of the Additional Protocol: Mischievous Reports Miss its Significance

Time for India-China Nuclear-speak

India and No First Use: Preventing Deterrence Breakdown

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.