India nuclear weapons: No first use or no full disclosure?

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This article argues India is laying the foundation to move away from “no-first-use” (NFU) as its nuclear weapons employment policy. Since the inception of its nuclear weapons program, India has claimed NFU as the centerpiece of its nuclear strategy. But India has a history of developing foundational changes to its nuclear weapons program before such changes actually occur. For example, the infrastructure of India’s nuclear weapons program was already being created in the 1950s under the guise of civilian nuclear power. Similarly, the weaponization of India’s program, which did not officially occur until after the 1998 tests, had its genesis in far earlier decisions. A close examination of trends in India’s nuclear weapons production complex, its delivery systems, and its command and control complex all lead to the conclusion that India is laying the groundwork for more flexible employment options, up to and including first use. This article does not argue such a decision has been taken. Rather, it argues the underpinning is in place to allow for a move to more flexible options, perhaps very quickly, at some point in the future. This could occur during crisis or it could occur incrementally over time.



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