• November 8, 2018, 1:58 pm

India on Monday declared that its nuclear triad, stated in its nuclear doctrine, is operational after indigenous ballistic missile nuclear submarine INS Arihant achieved a milestone by conducting its first deterrence patrol. This means that Arihant is now prowling the deep seas carrying ballistic missiles equipped with nuclear warheads.

NUCLEAR TRIAD - the capability to fire nuclear weapons from land, air and sea.  It’s a three-sided military-force structure consisting of land-launched nuclear missiles, nuclear-missile-armed submarines, and strategic aircraft with nuclear bombs and missiles.

Nuclear triad-what it means to India

  1. The completion of the nuclear-triad is critical for a country like India which has a clear policy of 'no first use of nuclear weapons'. The Nuclear arsenal is only to be used if India is attacked. That is called the second-strike capability. It is a country's ability to respond to a nuclear attack in equal measure.
  2. Nuclear powers on different platforms is important for India as two of its neighbours are nuclear powers with past history of war and border skirmishes.
  3. The ability to fire nuclear missiles from under the sea is particularly important. Submarines, unlike fighter aircraft and land-based missile systems, are harder to track and destroy. Launching a nuclear weapon through land-based systems is the most common method, but it carries the risk of being detected and attacked. Hence, launching from underwater can prove to be the biggest threat in case of war.


1.Technological Challenge

The first set is in the technological domain, as the navy struggles to acquire the capability for continuous at-sea deterrence. The Sagarika, only has a strike radius of about 750 to 800 km, which considered  inadequate. Indeed, with such a short range, the Arihant could not reach Islamabad, let alone China’s strategic centres.

Though  DRDO is currently working on 2 longer range SLBM –K4 (3500km and 5000km) ,its compatibility is been questioned on grounds of its  (K-4’s) height with the submarine’s 10.4-m hull.

It would require India’s nuclear submariners to operate on the northeastern fringes of the Bay of Bengal in order to effectively target China’s major metropolises, rather than within the more sanitised waters abutting India’s eastern seaboard as the missile range remains unsatisfactory although with the design improvisation .

Another techmological challenge is the 83-megawatt pressurised water reactor .It has a short refuelling cycle, thus limiting the length of the Arihant’s deterrent patrols.


As India’s SSBN fleet gradually grows in size and importance, the challenge will be to ensure that the navy’s new nuclear role develops alongside, rather than to the detriment of, its conventional missions.


Finally, Indian naval planners will also have to contend with their Pakistani counterparts’ development of what can best be described as a “naval nuclear force-in-being”.

Islamabad aims to eventually disperse nuclear-tipped cruise missiles across a variety of naval platforms, ranging from surface ships in the short term to conventional diesel-electric submarines in the long term. Unlike India, Pakistan’s naval nuclear ambitions are fuelled primarily by the sense of a growing conventional imbalance in the maritime domain.

By nuclearising — or by appearing to nuclearise — a large portion of their fleet architecture, Pakistani military planners hope to neuter India’s growing naval power, inject ambiguity and acquire escalation dominance in the event of a limited conflict at sea.

Since Independence, Indian naval officers have been accustomed to operating within a purely conventional maritime setting. Dealing with such a prospective adversary will no doubt necessitate a fundamental rethinking of the navy’s operational concepts.


In order to enjoy an effective sea-based deterrent with regard to China, India will need to deploy larger SSBNs with greater missile carriage capacity and more powerful nuclear reactors. The fourth planned submarine in the series is projected to possess such characteristics, but it may take more than a decade for it to be successfully developed and launched, and even longer for it to be commissioned.

For the time being, however, it appears that the Dhanush programme is merely a stopgap measure until the SSBN fleet comes into full fruition.

More importantly, it will also require an effort on the part of India-Pakistan to further institutionalise the maritime component of their relations so as to ensure that in future, isolated incidents don’t spiral out of control.


NPT-  Non-Proliferation Treaty , is an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.

CTBT- (Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty)- Test-Ban Treaty by which states agree to ban all nuclear explosions in all environments, for military or civilian purposes. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 1996.



India refused to sign the NPT as it says that those who have nuclear weapons have no obligation to give them up while others are not allowed to have them. Although it calls for nuclear disarmament, no fixed timelines have been mentioned. China has allegedly violated the treaty by proliferating knowledge to Pakistan.

With respect to CTBT, India refused  as it was discriminatory in nature .As US which has already conducted more than 2000 tests suddenly realizes that here was no need to test nuclear devices any more. No time-bound disarmament schedule for nuclear weapon states. CTBT would not help towards nuclear disarmament since it only banned nuclear explosive testing, but not other activities related to nuclear weapons, such as sub-critical (non-nuclear explosive) experiments, or computer simulations.