An Arms Race in South Asia?
28 Jun, 1998 · 118
Mallika Joseph & Jolie Wood report the second IPCS seminar series on "Implications of Nuclear Tests in South Asia
Gen. Banerjee began by noting that following
There are several elements of a weaponisation program:
· Deployment of sufficient number of weapons, including an effective second-strike capability;
· Development of adequate delivery systems;
· Establishment of a force structure and command-and-control set-up
· Evolution of a deterrence doctrine. This should be made visible and transparent, so that expectations and consequences are clear.
He then touched on the cost of weaponisation. The deterrence concept is based on a whole range of imponderables and uncertainties. Every possible contingency has to be countered. Redundancy has to be built into force requirements. The spiral effect on expenditure cannot be contained or restricted according to one’s will.
In Banerjee’s opinion, the arms race began when
He then addressed the role of
The discussion began with one participant questioning the theory that with nuclear weapons, a country can reduce conventional weapons in its arsenal. It was argued, in support, that this theory is totally wrong, as nuclear and conventional weapons are not interchangeable. Moreover, since the efficacy of the nuclear deterrent is arguable, such weapons cannot replace conventional weapons. It was suggested, therefore, that conventional and nuclear arms races could occur simultaneously.
What is the exact definition of an arms race? How is it to be analyzed or monitored? One view was that the concept of a "nuclear arms race" has been planted in the region by the West to scare people in the subcontinent. Until now there has been no analytical study that links up physical proximity of two adversarial nuclear states to nuclear instability in the region. The Western apprehension of a possible nuclear war in the region is exaggerated and blown out of all proportions.
One participant argued that
One participant maintained that it does not matter whether
The issue of weaponisation was then discussed. One participant argued that weaponisation could not remain the domain of scientists and engineers; militarisation was also necessary. The military would also have to be involved in the process of weaponisation, integrating nuclear weapons into military training and decision-making. Another maintained that whether
Finally, there was a debate on deterrence. Several participants questioned the efficacy of deterrence. The concept can work only if the threat to use nuclear weapons is credible. Thus one cannot say that nuclear weapons are not meant to be used, if they are meant to deter. Another participant argued that the Indian government could hardly be expected to have a developed strategy of deterrence if it cannot even put forward a coherent reason for having tested its nuclear devices in the first place.
The discussion concluded with the focus on the question of "no first use". Would it be a non-starter? Probably, yes.
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