India Thursday created history with the successful testing of the much awaited Agni-V long-range ballistic nuclear-capable missile, described as 'China killer', that can accurately hit targets more than 5,000 km away.
The successful take a look at of the 5000-km, solid-fuelled, cannisterised IRBM Agni-5 missile is no doubt a major milestone in enhancing not simply India's defence posture however conjointly its strategic outreach. however when the state savours the success of the ballistic missile take a look at, it's vital that the country does not go ballistic over it. whereas Agni-5 actually catapults India into a awfully choose club of states with such a capability, the membership of this club entails onerous responsibilities and adds layers of complexities to the strategic and security doctrine of India.
Weight 50,000 kg
Length 17.5 m
Diameter 2 m
Warhead weight 1100 kg
Engine Three stage solid fuel
Range Over 5,500 kilometres (3,400 mi)
Speed Mach 24
Transport Road or Rail mobile
Quite frankly, if India was to simply stop indulging in unnecessary chest-thumping for slightly whereas and sit back and ponder on how well it's coped with the strategic challenges till currently, it'd realise that technological prowess constitutes only 1 a part of the general strategic and security setting within which India operates.
In alternative words, technology could be a necessary however not sufficient condition for achieving strategic objectives and countering security threats. the important lacunae in India's strategic and security posture isn't most technology connected because it is that the ability of the Indian State to project its power and resolve to use this technology for effectively deterring any and each hostile action against it.
The real worth of the Agni-5 missile lies within the incontrovertible fact that it extends India's ability to focus on the japanese seaboard of China. this suggests that vital Chinese centres like Beijing and Shanghai currently fall at intervals the vary of Indian missiles. To the extent that this capability offers India a degree of strategic parity with China and thereby contributes to strategic stability between the 2 Asian giants, it has to be welcomed.
But inspect it otherwise and queries begin to arise on whether or not the induction of Agni-5, that remains one or two of years away, can really lend strategic stability and place in place a reputable deterrence.
The whole plan of deterrence operates on the logic of 1 country imposing unacceptable injury on another country. whereas definitions of unacceptable injury will cautious -- for a few countries a nuclear strike anywhere constitutes unacceptable injury, whereas alternative countries can solely be deterred if either the political or economic capital or an outsized population centre is attacked -- it's still not clear if solely Beijing and Shanghai fall within the class of unacceptable injury for the Chinese.
While it's actually a no brainer that each these cities can fall within the class of unacceptable injury, additional therefore if such injury is caused by India, it's unlikely that China would be blasé concerning an Indian strike on alternative giant population centres and economic hubs, one thing that fell at intervals the placing vary of Indian missiles even before testing of the Agni-5.
It is during this sense that the Agni-5 is not quite the game-changer it's being created out to be, and will not be till India's nuclear posture acquires a level of credibility, that it does not currently. to not belabour the purpose, however if India's nuclear and missile capability before Agni-5 wasn't enough to discourage China, then it's unlikely that Agni-5 can.
Deterrence ultimately could be a state of the mind and is the maximum amount psychological because it is technological. For deterrence to figure, the opposite aspect should be convinced of not simply your capability however conjointly your intent and resoluteness to use your weapons. sadly, partly as a result of India's namby-pamby 'no-first use' nuclear doctrine and partly as a result of the final impression of Indian political leadership being incapable of taking laborious choices, India's deterrence capability isn't taken terribly seriously by the 2 countries -- Pakistan and China -- against that a lot of of our deterrence is directed.
Conversely, each these countries have successfully managed to use their own deterrence capability against India. Take, for example, Pakistan. Ever since Pakistan initial went public with its nuclear capability -- in 1987 when it used an Indian journalist to announce that it possessed nuclear weapons -- it's convinced (some would argue bluffed) India that it'll even have no hesitation in using its nuclear weapons to counter any Indian thrust into Pakistan.
With full-scale typical war being taken out of the equation, India tried to come back up with the concept of a restricted war, that in line with some Indian strategists was doable underneath a nuclear overhang. however Pakistan has currently tried to counter this additionally by threatening to use tactical nuclear weapons against any Indian integrated battle cluster -- the Cold begin doctrine -- that enters Pakistani territory.
Keeping before them the expertise of Nato that found the doctrine of overwhelming retaliation to be unworkable, the Pakistanis see the Indian doctrine of retaliating with overwhelming force against use of tactical nuclear weapons as lacking in credibility. additional importantly, when having convinced India of its sturdy deterrence, Pakistan has used its nuclear umbrella to continue waging proxy war against India.
China too does not appear notably impressed by India's nuclear posture which is that the reason why it continues to pin-prick India through intrusions along the borders, feels assured in browbeating Indian ventures within the South China ocean, carries out threatening military manoeuvres on the Arunachal border etc. a part of the matter lies within the obtuseness of India's nuclear posture. this suggests that the red lines which might trigger a response from India that might impose an unbearable and unacceptable value on the adversary haven't been clearly laid down.
While doctrinal ambiguity will serve a purpose in bound things, it's clearly not serving any purpose as so much as India is bothered. Another drawback is that the Indian cultural trait of ducking choices, particularly on one thing as monumental as exercising the nuclear possibility. In a sense, by absolving the Indian political leadership of getting to initiate this terribly laborious call (which as a result of NFU are taken for India by its adversary), NFU suits the cultural traits of the Indian leadership.
But on the flip aspect, the NFU degrades the efficiency of the nuclear deterrence. After all, if India is de facto serious concerning adhering to NFU, then at what stage of a standard conflict, with say China, can it plan to use the nuclear option? can India keep its arsenal mothballed if Arunachal falls? can India discard NFU if Guwahati is threatened? Or can it still stick with NFU even though Kolkata falls?
The idea isn't to take pleasure in nuclear war-mongering; rather it's to create India's deterrence therefore effective that war (whether restricted, all-out, proxy whatever) isn't any longer an possibility for either India's western neighbour or India's north-eastern neighbour. within the case of the latter, each India and China stand to realize lots additional by partaking in shut economic and even political cooperation than in confronting one another. except for this to happen, strategic stability has to be ensured so neither aspect gets any wrong ideas and each side desist from needless adventurism.
While Agni-5 will definitely contribute to such stability, India has to perceive that this missile won't create a whit of a distinction unless India is ready to tweak its nuclear doctrine and create it additional sturdy, convincing and credible. This, quite anything, is that the real strategic challenge for India within the years to come back.