Questions covered during this discussion of India’s nuclear weapons policies included: how does the country’s leadership view deterrence and strategic and crisis stability, in the region and beyond? Should the country revise its nuclear doctrine? What are the opportunities and challenges for India in this regard? Finally, what are the potential next steps and early wins for India’s application to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)?

India’s nuclear doctrine focuses on ‘no first use’ and ‘massive retaliation’. The country has made a longstanding commitment to nuclear disarmament. As a responsible user of civil nuclear energy, it enjoys the support of nearly all members of the P5 in its bid to become a member of the NSG.

At the same time, India is enhancing its ability to launch nuclear weapons from land, air and sea. Besides testing for the fourth time the Agni-V 5000km ballistic missile in December 2016, India reportedly commissioned the first of the Arihant-class nuclear powered submarines in August 2016. Policymakers in New Delhi remain engaged with nuclear deterrence and diplomatic trends in India’s immediate neighbourhood, as well as the Indo-Pacific and global contexts.

Ambassador Rakesh Sood is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation. He was appointed as the Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of India for Disarmament and Non-proliferation Issues from 2013 to 2014. Prior to this, he served as India’s Ambassador to France from August 2011 to March 2013. He also served as Ambassador of India to Afghanistan from January 2005 to January 2008, and as Ambassador to Nepal and Permanent Representative of India to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. Earlier postings included Washington DC and Islamabad, and at the Foreign Ministry Headquarters as Joint Secretary, Disarmament and International Security Affairs (DISA).

This event was chaired by Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, Senior Fellow for South Asia, IISS. It took place in the Trafalgar Room, Arundel House, 13–15 Arundel Street, Temple Place, London WC2R 3DX.


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