India's Nuclear Doctrine, Four Key Principles and Institutions to Handle Nuclear Weapons in India

Get unlimited access to the best preparation resource for UGC : Get detailed illustrated notes covering entire syllabus: point-by-point for high retention.

Download PDF of This Page (Size: 110K)

  • Since Nehru’s times India has supported a policy of universal and non-discriminatory disarmament

  • In the initial years after independence India’s main aim was to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. It was chose to be firmly opposed to nuclear arms or nuclear weapons test

  • India’s suggestion at UN for end to all nuclear weapons led to the Atoms for Peace Programme initiated by US in 1957. This later became the IAEA

  • 1963: India ceded to the Limited Test Ban Treaty

1968: NPT

  • India’s concern about universal disarmament was not addressed. Hence India did not sign

  • Only four sovereign states now are outside the treaty: India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea

1974: Pokhran I

  • The challenge of expanded nuclear weapons deployment in Indian Ocean by the US and the Soviet Union and the progressive nuclear weaponization of Pakistan and China led India to go nuclear

  • Various sanctions followed and India’s access to nuclear and dual use technology was cut off

  • London Club was set up in response to Pokhran 1. This later became NSG.

  • 1988: Rajiv Gandhi proposed a time bound programme for disarmament in the special session of UN GA

  • Aka Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan

  • The plan was to be implemented in three stages over the next 22 years

  • Was through at the Six Nation Five Continent Initiative on Peace and Disarmament

  • In 2011, a committee headed by Mani Shankar Aiyer submitted a report to take forward the 1988 Rajiv Gandhi action plan

  • The report outlines a seven point roadmap, including India reiterating its commitment to eliminating its own arsenal as part of a universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable global process and promoting delegitimizing of nuclear weapons to set the state for “negotiating Nuclear Weapons Convention that would discuss a world without nuclear weapons in a specified time frame”

1996: CTBT

  • Was discriminatory

  • The treaty did not talk about the already stored nuclear arsenal

  • Till this time countries like the US had developed capabilities to perform nuclear tests in the laboratories and this treaty did not tell anything about limiting laboratory testing

India’S Nuclear Doctrine

  • Draft nuclear policy released in 1999 and amended in 2003

  • Objective: to project that India’s nuclear test explosions had a peaceful content and intentions. It seeks to project India as a responsible nuclear weapon state. Reiterate India’s commitment to global, verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament

Four Key Principles

  • India has voluntarily undertaken not to test a nuclear weapon

  • No use of nuclear weapon against non-nuclear weapon state < now modified that India will not use nuclear weapon against a non-nuclear state which is not aligned to a nuclear weapon state>

  • No first use. Will not use nuclear weapons unless the other country uses WMD (nuclear, chemical, biological)

  • Will follow credible minimum deterrence under which it would deploy only such nuclear weapons that are necessary to safeguard its strategic interest

Institutions to Handle Nuclear Weapons in India

Two Institutions

  • Nuclear Command Authority

  • Strategic Force Command


  • Has two components: Political Council and Executive Council

  • Only the political council can authorise the retaliatory nuclear attack

  • Executive Council provides inputs for decision making by the NCA and it also executes direction given to it by Political Council


  • Custodian of all nuclear weapons and delivery systems

  • Will also formulate the strategy for retaliation and advice the chiefs of Staff committee and actually fire the nukes

Developed by: