An analysis of India’s nuclear forces published in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists suggests that the focus of Indian nuclear strategy has been shifting from Pakistan to China. The Indian posture, according to the study has likely been reinforced after the 2017 Doklam standoff.
“India’s nuclear strategy, which has traditionally focused on Pakistan, now appears to place increased emphasis on China and Beijing is now in the range of Indian missiles,” authors Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda have noted.
Kristensen is the director of the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, DC, while Korda is a research associate for the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists. The authors point out that India’s “nuclear modernisation indicates that it is putting increased emphasis on its future strategic relationship with China”.
The study predicts that India’s China focused approach is likely to contribute to development and deployment of new capabilities over the next 10 years and is also likely to impact India’s approach towards Pakistan. India’s nuclear triad was believed to be officially accomplished following the announcement of completion of the first deterrence patrol of indigenous nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant, by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2018.
The study estimates that the additional systems of India’s eight-legged nuclear triad are under development and will soon see completion. It estimates that India currently operates at least two aircraft systems, four land-based ballistic missile system, and two sea-based ballistic missiles which are nuclear capable. “At least three more systems are in development, of which several are nearing completion and will soon be combat-ready, Beijing is now in range of Indian ballistic missiles,” the authors have pointed out.