Cover: India's Emerging Nuclear Posture

India's Emerging Nuclear Posture

Between Recessed Deterrent and Ready Arsenal

Published 2001

by Ashley J. Tellis

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Part 1

Prefatory Material, Chapters 1-2

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Part 2

Chapter 3

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Part 3

Chapter 4 (Pages 251 - 408)

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Chapter 4 (Pages 409 - 476)

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Chapter 5 (Pages 477 - 600)

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Part 6

Chapter 5 (Pages 601 - 724)

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Part 7

Chapter 6, Bibliography

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On May 11, 1998, after a hiatus of more than two decades, India conducted a series of nuclear tests that signaled a critical shift in its strategic thinking. Once content to embrace a nuclear posture consisting largely of maintaining the option — i.e., neither creating a nuclear arsenal nor renouncing its right to do so — India is now on the threshold of adopting a posture that, while stopping short of creating a ready arsenal, will take as its goal the establishment of a minimum but credible deterrent, known as a force-in-being. This book examines the forces — political, strategic, technological, and ideational — that led to this dramatic policy shift and describes how New Delhi's force-in-being will be fashioned, particularly in light of the threat India faces from its two most salient adversaries, China and Pakistan. The book evaluates in detail the material, infrastructural, and procedural capabilities India currently possesses as well as those it is likely to acquire in its efforts to meet the needs of its evolving force-in-being. Finally, the volume concludes by assessing the strategic implications of India's posture both on the South Asian region in particular and on the global nonproliferation regime in general.

"The Copernican Revolution, which kicked humanity off the center of the universe, had a jolting effect on the Catholic Church, which took a long time to accept this fact. Likewise, it is not easy for the hegemonic West to reconcile itself to the fact that non-Western countries can also make and explode nuclear weapons. In this context it is useful and necessary not just to recognize that science and technological capabilities transcend national and ethnic boundaries, but also to understand the cultural, political, and psychological factors that provoke countries like India to expend significant chunks of their resources to make nuclear weapons… In this thoroughly researched scholarly book, based on extensive reading and interviews with key people, RAND researcher Tellis offers a remarkably cogent and factual account of the context of India's joining the Nuclear Club. Certainly informative and insightful, this work will be very valuable to US planners working in this new world. Upper-division undergraduates and up."

- CHOICE Magazine

"The great value of Ashley Tellis's work is that it seeks to look at the logic that propelled Prime Minister Vajpayee's decision to break the 24-year old self-imposed embargo and order the Shakti tests, and offers an analysis of the course that India is likely to undertake in the coming years… Tellis's work has benefited the Indian government's permission to meet a cross-section of serving officials, including those directly involved in the nuclear weapons programme. This unprecedented access, combined with Tellis's systematic trawling of published literature have given this work a definitive quality evidenced also by its sheer bulk."

- Strategic Affairs

"There is an impressive comprehensiveness about the opus… It is essential reading for all those who are interested in understanding the important and difficult choices facing India."

- Frontline

"Tellis has done a great job by producing an excellent, timely, very detailed and objective study of India's nuclear logic, strategic requirements, and possible choices concerning the nuclear programme…"

- Contemporary Southeast Asia

"… This is a lucid account of the likely evolution of India's nuclear-weapons policy by an adviser to the American ambassador to India."

- The Economist

"For those prompted to look deeper into [the nuclear future of South Asia], there is no better guide than Ashley Tellis's brilliant book India's Emerging Nuclear Posture. Drawing on years of research at the RAND Corporation and countless interviews with Indian civilian and military officials, he provides a deeper and more thorough analysis of India's strategic priorities and capabilities than the Indian government itself likely has produced. India cognoscenti must read this book; everyone interested in post-Cold War approaches to nuclear deterrence should read it. In his foray through India's nuclear options, Tellis cuts through the jungle of accepted thought about nuclear deterrence and exposes the thin soil on which the cold War model stands."

- Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, by George Perkovich

"What are the characteristics of India's future nuclear arsenal and operational posture? This is the problem to which Ashley Tellis supplies a persuasive answer: India will seek what Tellis calls a 'force-in-being'…Tellis's brilliant and richly documented analysis is worth reading…A must-read for South Asia watchers, this book deserves a wider audience. In a time when many do not question the claimed security imperatives that justify possession of nuclear weapons, Tellis offers a hard-headed, detailed analysis of the Indo-Pakistan and Sino-Indian military relationships… Going further, Tellis persuasively questions long-standing US (and Russian) premises regarding the types of forces and operational postures required for deterrence."

- Survival, by George Perkovich

"…Ashley Tellis's India's Emerging Nuclear Posture is unlikely to be surpassed in the near future as the definitive account of the country's evolving nuclear strategy. It scores on all three features necessary for a study to be seen as making a significant contribution to knowledge: imaginative use of new sources, rigour of analysis and originality of interpretation."

- The Indian Express

"Buoyed by the reputation of the RAND Corporation and the rigorous research of American academia comes another book on India's emerging nuclear policy. Ashley Tellis, an American of Indian origin and currently, the adviser to the U.S. ambassador in India, begins with India's overt nuclear tests in 1998 and analyses its nuclear ambitions. Disagreeing with the government's view that India is a nuclear weapon state in the true sense, Tellis senses that the government is at a crossroad of indecision, pulled in different directions by a historical commitment to disarmament, economic constraints and world pressure on the one hand, and the dynamics of nuclear strategy and stability on the other."

- Outlook India

"The events of September 11 have made most Indian strategic analysts forget the biggest security story of the past 10 years up to that point: India's nuclear programme and the tests at Pokhran in May 1998. Ashley Tellis' new book should get us over this amnesia and rekindle the conversation on matters nuclear in this country… India's Emerging Nuclear Posture: Between Recessed Deterrence and Ready Arsenal is a classic of its kind and will adorn the shelves of strategic studies' libraries for many years… [It] been long awaited both in the US and in South Asia, and it must be said that the book does not disappoint… This stone-cold, sober book is a must read for pro- and anti-nuclear groups in India. Pro-nuclear readers will find much here to clarify their thinking on the nature of India's posture and its adequacy. Anti-nuclear readers will get a better idea of what direction Indian military planners are likely to take in the years to come and how to structure a systematic assessment of the Indian programme in the future. If you are interested in India's nuclear choices, this is one of two indispensable intellectual companions and guides-how ironic that they should both come from Americans."

- India Today

"With its two nuclear tests in 1998, India provoked bitter international criticism and retaliatory tests from Pakistan. … Until recently no systematic book-length treatment of the subject was available. Now Ashley Tellis' India's Emerging Nuclear Posture - carefully researched, meticulously documented, and tightly argued - ably fills this void. It is not merely a tour d'horizon of the likely future of the Indian nuclear weapons program, but a tour de force on the subject of nuclear proliferation in general…"

- Foreign Affairs

"India's Emerging Nuclear Posture' is a wonderful compendium of the public record on India's nuclear policy. Even though the book is primarily an intellectual audit of India's current and future nuclear posture, it has extensive chapters on the technical characteristics of India's nuclear arsenal—fissile material inventory, delivery vehicles and so on. Meticulously documented, detailed and systematically argued, its value as a reference book can scarcely be overstated. This book should be on the shelf of anyone interested in India's nuclear weapons policy."

- Science and Global Security

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