The Chinese will do it any way.
India should help China be China.
"Naming enemies makes them!" Adm Cunningham, RIN
Philip, Long back in 1999 I wrote a BRM article called "What Next?" It still stands true even now.http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/MONITOR/I ... amana.html
For India, the number has to be formulated taking into account various factors. Some of which are-
Threat perceptions, the nature, location, and political disposition of the challengers- democratic need less deterrence while autocrats need more, the survivability of the force, and international geopolitics play great role. Indian adoption of theater missile defenses to reduce the number of in-coming payloads from regional challengers would help the minimal aspect, as the force would become more survivable. It would become very complicated to examine all these factors. A possible approach is to envision the security situation in terms of low, medium, and high risk.
Let us examine the low risk situation. In this scenario, there is the 1999 level of political situation- US and NATO primary security alliance, declining Russia, ascending but reforming China and Pakistan under Nawaz Sharif type of representative rule.
India should have the capability to destroy 20 long range, 30 medium and 50 regional targets. These are based on ensuring enough destruction capability to deter any aggressive behavior from any quarters. If only modest numbers are available, it would mean a reverse kamikaze situation- a negligible, minuscule retaliatory strike on a challenger who has delivered excessive destruction to the Indian State in a first strike. As the Indian deterrent program is based on minimal testing and low yield devices (< 45kt), it would require three times this numbers to assure destruction. These numbers could come down with further delivery vehicle tests to prove reliability and accuracy; again if new payload details are revealed and accepted by the challengers, the numbers could go down.
Add to this another hundred to ensure survival of first strike. This number could go down, if a global or bilateral no first use agreement is reached with the NWS states. Another would be if a mutual de-targeting agreement were signed with principal NWS. A NWS declaration about not expanding their doctrine to non-nuclear threats would not be of much use to India in this case as she does not intend to use such threats- B&C W.
Add to this about a hundred for pipeline process- weapons at lab, under replenishment, in logistic cycle, unavailable due to any reason etc. This number is not subject to any trimming.
India is not part of any global security arrangement and has to rely on itself. The numbers suggested reflect this. If it were to be accommodated in international forums and mutual threat reduction mechanisms, then participation in reduction regimes can be considered.
An argument is being articulated that, India should come up with its numbers by taking a page from the French and UK arsenals. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, these states do not face a challenge to their existence. Also, being members of NATO they have an extended umbrella from US. Moreover, they have deployed their arsenals on survivable platforms – nuclear submarines. The two powers have conducted 200 and 45 tests respectively which gives them assurance on reliability. They have special agreements on weapons with the US, which gives them access to know-how. On the other hand, China has in the eighties clarified that its NFU applies only to the P-5 which are recognized by NPT and it does not apply on its own territory. India is not a member of NPT and China claims vast areas of Indian territory, in Arunachal Pradesh among others. India would be an implicit victim of this clarification In addition it has created security problems for India by transferring nuclear weapons technology and material to Pakistan, not to mention violation of the very treaty confers special privileges on it- NPT. The Indian posture should be based on numbers which give it comfort and assurance and not on any external insights. If this results in a higher number for Pakistan so be it. The thinking among experts is Pakistan will try to match India and will not let itself, be left with lower numbers and this could lead to a failed state. This problem is not of India’s choosing. Pakistan is a sovereign state and is quite capable of making its own decisions. In addition what is to prevent China from transferring more weapons to Pakistan? It has not obeyed laws in the past. It signs treaties for convenience and ignores them when it suits their perception.
Medium Risk situation
An un-representative military government in Pakistan, which is in an alliance with a totalitarian, un reforming China would represent a medium risk security scenario. They could encourage insurgencies in border-states, and hold out prospects of simultaneously threatening India.
This situation would require additional delivery vehicles and weapons, which can be used in a regional context. Examples are additional lower yield weapons for battlefield use, and more higher yield weapons for counter- value targets in China. Add another hundred of these to the numbers from low risk scenario.
High risk situation
An aggressive Western alliance, alone or in consort with the medium risk scenario is one situation, which comes to mind. Another is a change of politics in Russia, which exhibits tendencies inimical to Indian interests. The point is, any grouping which has large numbers of nukes available to them and has inimical disposition has to be considered
These would require more, high yield payloads and long range delivery vehicles on survivable platforms. It could also require MIRV development and would be a costly endeavor. The challenge to Indian diplomacy and the political class is to prevent the emergence of this situation. The main limitation to handle this situation is access to fissile material and the strength of the economy. Low cost technology initiatives to maintain this option are- regular PSLV launches of multiple satellites, production facilities for advanced fusion materials, a robust command and control system, and ballistic missile nuclear submarines.