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Implications of India’s long-range missile capabilities May 4, 2012

Posted by nishankmotwani in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International, India , comments closed

Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

This post first appeared on Future Directions International on 2 May 2012.

Background

As the latest addition to India’s expanding arsenal, the launch of the Agni-5 long-range missile on 19 April is another step forward in the diversification of India’s nuclear strike capabilities. While India celebrates its technological achievement, the development of a nuclear-capable intermediate-range ballistic missile, with an estimated range of 5,000 kilometres or 3,100 miles, is likely to intensify strategic competition between Pakistan and China, which have viewed these developments with reservation.

Comment

Although senior Indian officials publicly say that the Agni-5 is for deterrence purposes only, India has a clear rationale behind the missile’s development, which is to: demonstrate its expanding strategic strike capabilities, impress the world’s major powers that possess intercontinental missiles and deliver a strong message to Pakistan and China. (more…)

Do not let Agni V’s shock and awe endanger Asian stability May 3, 2012

Posted by nishankmotwani in : India, Sullivan, Kate , comments closed

Kate Sullivan

India outed its nuclear bomb and yet remained the land of Gandhi. The same message of peace and power should follow the launch of its first ICBM.

With the successful Agni V test on Thursday, India appears to be aiming for status as much as security. Yet without credible reassurances, the by-product of this quest for prestige could be an increasingly insecure region.

Peaceful intentions

As so often in the past, India faces the challenge of reconciling its quest for military and nuclear status with the need to persuade the international community of its peaceful intentions. That India has the experience, skill and track record to do so is without doubt.

For decades, India’s nuclear policy and discourse have been built on a curious mix of hard power and principle. The 1974 test was dubbed a “Peaceful Nuclear Explosion,” and successive governments opted to refrain from overtly developing a nuclear weapon capability. Following the nuclear tests of 1998, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee stressed that the tests and India’s future nuclear policy would “continue to reflect a commitment to the sensibilities and obligations of an ancient civilization, a sense of responsibility and restraint.”

India’s nuclear tests were a means of establishing India’s international status and prestige. Yet refreshingly, they were not simply an act of conformity to the dominant might-is-right maxim of the international system.

A synthesis was formed with an enduring set of principled foreign policy values. In the wake of the tests, India stressed its peaceful intentions, announced a voluntary moratorium on further testing, limited itself to a minimum credible deterrent, and later pledged a no-first-use policy. (more…)