India's space ambitions, assets and policies
The serpent may, without being poisonous, raise high its hood, but the show of terror is enough to frighten people, whether he be venomous or not.- Chanakya
1. The fundamental purpose of Indian nuclear weapons is to deter the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons by any State or entity against India and its forces. India will not be the first to initiate a nuclear strike, but will respond with punitive retaliation should deterrence fail. India will not resort to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against States which do not possess nuclear weapons, or are not aligned with nuclear weapon powers. Deterrence requires that India maintain:
(a) Sufficient, survivable and operationally prepared nuclear forces,
(b) A robust command and control system,
(c) Effective intelligence and early warning capabilities, and
(d) Comprehensive planning and training for operations in line with the strategy, and
(e) The will to employ nuclear forces and weapons
2. Highly effective conventional military capabilities shall be maintained to raise the threshold of outbreak both of conventional military conflict as well as that of threat or use of nuclear weapons.
3. Nuclear Forces. India's nuclear forces will be effective, enduring, diverse, flexible, and responsive to the requirements in accordance with the concept of credible minimum deterrence. These forces will be based on a triad of aircraft, mobile land-based missiles and sea-based assets in keeping with the objectives outlined above. Survivability of the forces will be enhanced by a combination of multiple redundant systems, mobility, dispersion and deception. The doctrine envisages assured capability to shift from peacetime deployment to fully employable forces in the shortest possible time, and the ability to retaliate effectively even in a case of significant degradation by hostile strikes.
(a) Credibility Any adversary must know that India can and will retaliate with sufficient nuclear weapons to inflict destruction and punishment that the aggressor will find unacceptable if nuclear weapons are used against India and its forces.
(b) Effectiveness The efficacy of India's nuclear deterrent be maximised through synergy among all elements involving reliability, timeliness, accuracy and weight of the attack.
(i) India's nuclear forces and their command and control shall be organised for very high survivability against surprise attacks and for rapid punitive response. They shall be designed and deployed to ensure survival against a first strike and to endure repetitive attrition attempts with adequate retaliatory capabilities for a punishing strike which would be unacceptable to the aggressor.
(ii) Procedures for the continuity of nuclear command and control shall ensure a continuing capability to effectively employ nuclear weapons.
5. Command and Control
(a) Nuclear weapons shall be tightly controlled and released for use at the highest political level. The authority to release nuclear weapons for use resides in the person of the Prime Minister of India, or the designated successor(s).
(b) An effective and survivable command and control system with requisite flexibility and responsiveness shall be in place. An integrated operational plan, or a series of sequential plans, predicated on strategic objectives and a targeting policy shall form part of the system.
(c) For effective employment the unity of command and control of nuclear forces including dual capable delivery systems shall be ensured.
(d) The survivability of the nuclear arsenal and effective command, control, communications, computing, intelligence and information (C4I2) systems shall be assured.
(e) The Indian defence forces shall be in a position to, execute operations in an NBC environment with minimal degradation.
(f) Space based and other assets shall be created to provide early warning, communications, and damage/detonation assessment.
6. Space can provide unparalleled resources for supporting India's security in relation to humanitarian and environmental crises and diverse natural, criminal and military threats. Nevertheless, it is important to recognise that potential misuses of space assets could turn outer space into a battlefield: such abuses would threaten India's security as well as compromising a range of civilian and security applications on which our daily lives now rely. A possible way ahead for India is suggested below.
(a) Space security is pre-eminently an issue of global security and international relations. India should formulate a common position - as it did with regard to WMD or Nuclear Non-Proliferation - and devise a coherent strategy that protects Indian security. Such a strategy – operating within the multilateral framework – would reinforce the outer space security regime and should be aimed towards prohibiting the weaponisation of space.
(b) In light of our security objectives, India needs a Space Policy that clearly identifies where the line is drawn between 'acceptable' uses of space to support Indian Security and WMD Strategies, and 'unacceptable' uses that would cut across India's wider security objectives and policies or jeopardise the peaceful and civilian uses of space on which our quality of life and security now rely.
(c) Indian space assets and access to space need to be actively protected, through both technological and political initiatives. Useful approaches would include:
(i) Passive defences such as hardening and shielding, and enhancing India's space situation awareness capabilities.
(ii) The development and coordination of policies and strategies to enable India to play a more significant and effective role in strengthening the international legal regime and developing 'rules of the road' for space activities and uses.
(d) India will continually find itself outmanoeuvred or pre-empted if the debate on space security is left solely to its defence officials or to a context in which NATO – and primarily the US – drives the decision-making.
(e) India needs to formulate a strategy to prevent the weaponisation of space, prioritizing international legal instruments and agreements to ensure that no weapons are tested or deployed for use in, to or from space. Far better to prevent such destabilizing developments by collectively prohibiting space weapons in law, than to delay now and then be faced with the daunting challenge of closing the stable door as more and more horses bolt. Prevention and prohibition of weapons in and from space is cleaner, clearer and safer than belated attempts at disarmament or non-proliferation would be in left for the future to deal with.
(f) From an Indian perspective, therefore, much more needs to be done to manage the interfaces with US, Russia, EU, China and NATO, with inauguration of an open, transparent, and rational analysis of the actual threats, prospects of, and alternatives to, missile defences, and implications of certain policy routes for Indian, international and space security. This will not be easy. US allies, China and Russia need to play an independent role and contribute fully to debate about the pros and cons of proposals that will affect terrestrial and space security.
7. In view of the uncertainty amongst various countries, Indian Parliament has an important role to play in overseeing and ensuring that the development of the Indian Space Policy and the individual space policies and industrial strategies and practices are kept fully consistent with the India's fundamental security objectives and interests. This could be even at the cost of developing own minimum deterrence capability in space as we have done for our nuclear arsenal, as rightly known that 'to be prepared for hostility is the best form of defence'.
Notes and References
Mohammed B. Alam; Heidelberg Papers in South Asian and Comparative Politics, South Asia Institute Department of Political Science; 'India's Nuclear Doctrine: Context and Constraints', Working Paper No. 11, October 2002; www.jmi.nic.in/Fsoc/mbalam_ps.htm; accessed on 30 Sep 09.
 Adapted from Dr Rebecca E. Johnson, Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy presentation to: Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Security and Defence Public Hearing on the Contribution of space to ESDP. May 2, 2007, ASP, European Parliament
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