Missile Defense and South Asia Analysis

A.V.

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On 1 May 2001, President George W. Bush announced a strategic initiative that sought to effect a
radical break with the past by supplementing offensive capability with missile defense as the
centerpiece of American national security strategy. The Government of India reacted with remarkable
alacrity in shedding its earlier doubts and expressing its warm appreciation of the President's speech. The
response surprised almost everyone, partly because it was a significant departure from the Government's
misgivings about American proposals for a national missile defense (NMD), and partly because of the
rapidity with which it came. The public debate that followed was conducted with the vigor displayed
earlier over important national security decisions on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and
over the nuclear tests of May 1998. In fact, the debate was a little late in coming. NMD had entered the
US strategic agenda much earlier during the Clinton Administration, but Indians gave it little attention at
the time. Besides, India's own interest in missile defense goes back several years. While much (though
not all) of the current global attention has focused on US NMD, Indian interest has for several years
revolved around developments relating to missile defense in its own strategic context. Both kinds of
missile defense are relevant to India's national security, but in different ways. US NMD has an indirect
bearing on Indian security, while a more limited missile defense has a direct one.
In this essay, I attempt to gauge the appropriate posture that India should take with respect to both
kinds of missile defense. The issue is an evolving and open-ended one. Will the US NMD be "robust" or
limited? How will the United States attempt to shape Russian and Chinese reactions, and how will they
actually react? What they, and China in particular, will do may have a bearing on the strategic posture of
India and, in turn, Pakistan, though here again there is no certainty as to how either will respond. Equally,
how will the United States deploy Theater Missile Defense (TMD)? Will Taiwan be a recipient and, if so,
how will China respond? Will India incorporate some form of missile defense into its defense apparatus,
and, if it does, what will Pakistan do about it? I raise these questions because I find the participants in the
discourse tend to display little nuance and often speak with a certainty that does not rest on a careful
consideration of the range of possibilities. In particular, there is scarcely any thoroughgoing argument for
or against missile defense based on an adequate discussion of its relation to the fundamentals of
deterrence.
To start with, the concept of missile defense needs some clarification. In the American strategic
lexicon, NMD is generally understood as a response to the threat posed to the US homeland by long-range
missiles, while TMD is aimed at countering theater missile threats to US interests overseas. The
definition needs flexibility. For instance, if the continental United States were to be attacked by a shipborne
short-range missile, the appropriate defense would be from a so-called TMD system. In short, a
TMD system may well play a role in NMD. This is particularly true of India, which faces threats to its
homeland from short-range and intermediate-range missiles. Thus, the Indian interest in anti-missile
defensive systems is aimed at a limited national defense even though the specific systems may be
designated as TMD systems in the United States and elsewhere. The distinction is further blurred by the
fact that military and civilian targets overlap extensively: most cantonments and nuclear facilities are
adjacent to urban centers. To avoid confusion, I will simply use the term "missile defense" in the Indian
context.
Below, I first examine the official Indian response to the Bush initiative and explain the reasons
for India's shift from doubtful distancing to politically astute applause. I next analyze in some detail the
response of the Indian strategic community to the Government of India's position. Thereafter, I present a
case for supporting NMD on basic doctrinal grounds. I then extend the line of reasoning and argue in
favor of a limited Indian missile defense for the purpose of protecting Indian assets.
INDIA'S OFFICIAL RESPONSE TO MISSILE DEFENSE
Much has been made of the remarkable shift in India's attitude toward the Bush initiative of May
2001. In fact, earlier criticism of the American interest in NMD had been perfunctory and, considering
India's own interest in TMD, contradictory as well. In early July 2000, Defense Minister George
Fernandes, when questioned about NMD, said that "the US should give up this whole exercise as it will
lead to far too many problems than [sic] we can visualize now."2 Less than a week later, Fernandes was
ambivalent. While expressing some concern that American NMD might alter the global nuclear balance
and start a new arms race, he also noted that it would dismantle "mutual assured destruction" (MAD) and,
more importantly, would not affect India's nuclear program.3 Similarly, External Affairs Minister
Jaswant Singh observed that India was against the militarization of outer space, but expressed his
satisfaction with the talks he had held with his counterpart, Madeleine Albright, and her deputy, Strobe
Talbott.4 The cursory interest displayed by senior members of the Indian cabinet may have been due to
India's "reluctance to contradict its number one trading partner, its number one source of direct
investment and technology, and its number one potential ally in its rivalry with China and Pakistan."5 But
it certainly was not the result of a lack of interest in missile defense as an issue. As will be shown below,
Indian interest in missile defense dated back several years, though the main focus was—and still is—on
TMD. Hence, it is hardly surprising that, while expressing some reservations, India never took a strongly
critical position on NMD.
 

A.V.

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Nevertheless, the Vajpayee government's warm reaction to Bush's May 2001 speech was
unexpected. The Ministry of External Affairs, in an official statement, applauded the President's effort to
dismantle the "adversarial legacy of the Cold War" and his desire to "make a clean break from the past"
by "stepping away from a world that is held hostage by the doctrine of MAD."6 After the initial surprise,
some commentators took a second look at the Indian position and discovered nuances. Nicholas Berry
pointed out that India had not endorsed NMD at all, but had only expressed enthusiasm for that portion of
the Bush speech, which underlined arms control.7 The point was expressly conveyed by Indian officials
to senior Russian and Chinese leaders, though not to the satisfaction of either.8 Indian policymakers,
caught between the United States on one hand and Russia and China on the other, had to engage in a fair
bit of tightrope walking. The inducement held out by the Russians—transfer of missile defense
technology (space-tracking radar and anti-tactical ballistic missile (ATBM) rockets) in addition to other
military hardware—was considerable.9 Still, as a senior Russian journalist admitted, winning India over
to the Russian point of view had "proven difficult."10 At a joint press conference with the visiting
Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, just three days after the Bush speech, Singh called on the United
States not to abrogate the ABM Treaty unilaterally, but to "engage Russia in dialogue," which was a fair
distance from saying that the preservation of the Treaty was a serious concern to India.11 Singh also
explicitly welcomed the Bush initiative, declaring that "etween mutually agreed decisions and
mutually assured destruction, the former is preferable."12
Notwithstanding the careful choice of words, the fact remains that, taken as a whole, India's
response to the Bush speech was very supportive. What were India's motives? According to one
commentator, India wanted to obtain from the United States military and technical assistance as well as
support for its drive for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council—"a good way to grease
the wheel of India's rise to superpower status."13 A more immediate objective, it appears, was the desire
to gain access to US surveillance data, especially on Chinese and Pakistani missile sites.14 A possible
consideration was a strategic tie-up with the United States against China.15 But these explanations are not
enough. They do not explain why an India long committed to global disarmament should have been
willing to countenance the abandonment of the centerpiece of the existing structure of arms control: the
ABM Treaty. Furthermore, why, despite their constant concern with the Chinese threat, were Indian
leaders unperturbed by the possibility of a Chinese buildup in response to NMD? The answer lies in the
character of Indian strategic culture, more specifically, Indian strategic culture with respect to nuclear
weapons.16
Indian thinking about nuclear weapons has always been a mix of power-oriented realism and
idealistic restraint. While the realist element has been attracted to the possibilities offered by nuclear
deterrence, the idealist element has found nuclear weapons morally abhorrent and hence sought to undo
their potential effects through global disarmament. This latter aspect of Indian nuclear-strategic thought
would find missile defense conceptually appealing. It is not surprising that the Indian response to the
Bush initiative should have focused largely on the shift away from MAD and the space this creates for
significant arms reductions. That the capacity to defend against missiles is taken seriously by the
Government of India is evident from its long-standing interest, dating back to a time when the Bharatiya
Janata Party (BJP) was not in power, in developing its own missile defense capacity. Indian equanimity
vis-à-vis the possible upgrading of China's arsenal is also explained by its nuclear-strategic culture. India
has never been particularly anxious about its vulnerability to a qualitative and quantitative gap between
China's nuclear inventory and its own. While some Indian strategists have been wont to focus on
typically American concerns relating to vulnerability to preemption, the fact that the pace of India's
nuclearization has been leisurely at best is indicative of a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the operational
minutiae of nuclear possession. Indian political leaders have often been accused of an overly political
approach to nuclear weapons. That, I suggest, is one of their strengths. It is an understanding that
underlies their commitment to existential deterrence—an acutely insightful perception of the essentially
political character of nuclear weapons, which explains their acceptance of the imbalances and anomalies
that preoccupy professional deterrence theorists. In light of this, the BJP-led government's relaxed
acceptance of missile defense and their obvious intent—to extract the fullest advantage from a policy they
are intrinsically comfortable with—is understandable.
INDIA'S MISSILE DEFENSE DEBATE
The debate over missile defense has been somewhat different from similar debates in the past.
Earlier, public discussions on the CTBT (which India rejected in 1996) and on the 1998 nuclear tests
demarcated fairly clearly the dividing line between those who thought nuclear weapons to be a boon and
those who deemed them to be a curse. This time, however, opposition to the government's position has
come not only from the generally left-leaning peace constituency, but also from staunch nationalists on
the other side of the ideological divide. Not only that, the new strategic bedfellows use the same language
to oppose the government and its supporters, which is not a little ironic, since the left critics harbor a
strong antipathy toward nuclear weapons, whereas the nationalists are at a minimum comfortable with a
nuclear option.
The chief objection of the critics is that missile defense would have a destabilizing domino effect
reaching all the way from the United States to South Asia.17 The American program would cause China
to embark on a qualitative and quantitative buildup. This would likely entail an expanded arsenal,
multiple-warhead (MIRVed missiles), and the adoption of an alert posture. In India, the change would be
perceived as threatening, the balance between moderates and hawks would tilt in favor of the latter, and a
buildup would commence, followed by a like response from Pakistan. The result would be rising regional
instability, raising the dire prospect of an already unstable India–Pakistan relationship sliding into war.
American critics, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, echo this view.18 Indians also
fear that a China antagonized by American missile defense may draw even closer to Pakistan and
accelerate strategic cooperation with it.19 This is an emotive issue. Indians have long complained about
the China–Pakistan nuclear and missile nexus as the central component of China's efforts to "contain"
and "encircle" India.
 

A.V.

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Another criticism is that NMD will have a disequilibrating effect on the global structure of arms
control.20 The United States' rejection of the ABM Treaty is seen as the first step toward this.21 It will
not only present a difficult roadblock to further reductions, but also enhance tensions everywhere through
the revival of arms racing. Ongoing efforts to agree on a fissile material control treaty (FMCT) would be
adversely affected, particularly if India and Pakistan seek to stockpile larger quantities of fissile materials
in order to build more bombs. One critic observes that missile defense is not a truly defensive system, but
is in fact a "means for bolstering offense" with no design for disarmament, and Indian support for it
shows that "[w]e have now deflected sharply from the elimination goalpost and are now adrift in the
uncertain and dangerous course of a new weapon system."22 The offensive capabilities said to be inherent
in missile defense are a source of discomfort for several critics. They are troubled by the prospect of a
United States made less vulnerable by NMD becoming an aggressive power.23 This brings to the fore an
image that has not quite faded from the Indian strategic worldview: the fear of being pushed around by a
hegemonic power.24
On the other side, a number of analysts have found merit in India's stance. First, the domino
theory is rejected. One argument, made before the Bush speech of May 2001, is that China will not react
aggressively to a US NMD because it will have no need to: it will have adequate recourse to
countermeasures, which are easier and cheaper to acquire than sophisticated weapons.25 Another—also
expressed early—is that it does not really matter because India has long accepted an India–China
disparity anyway: "What India is looking for is credible nuclear deterrence and not nuclear parity."26
Furthermore, simple pragmatism backs the Indian position. Since the United States will go ahead with
missile defense regardless of what others say, why not hop aboard the bandwagon and try to extract the
maximum advantage?27 It is, moreover, a "wily political decision" since it lauds the US statement on
arms cuts without supporting NMD directly.28
Another argument in favor of supporting the United States goes a little further. It sees NMD as
providing an opportunity for India to engineer a breakthrough in its relationship with the United States.
The American shift from established "nuclear theology" to missile defense opens the door for a fruitful
arms control dialogue between the two countries.29 The result would be an improved strategic
understanding between them. Finally, the Bush initiative is seen more broadly as heralding the "demise
of the old nuclear order," which rested on the twin pillars of MAD and the NPT, both anathema to India's
strategic thinking and interests.30 It follows that India should be supportive of it.
The arguments outlined above are cast in political-strategic as well as military-strategic terms, but
the latter are the basis for the former. Opposition to NMD and to India's stance on it rests fundamentally
on the understanding that its military consequences are undesirable: NMD will alter the operational
calculus of the nuclear players, and their resultant actions and reactions will have an adverse impact on
Indian security. Supporters of the Indian position hold generally that operational effects do not matter or
are of little consequence. The real significance of NMD is political: it provides the basis for a paradigm
change, whether with regard to the global nuclear order and the prospects for arms control or, more
narrowly, with respect to Indo–US relations. I find the latter case more persuasive. However, it needs to
be argued at greater length since it is far from self-evident that the military implications of missile defense
are not as undesirable as critics hold. I will attempt below a more thorough consideration of the military
and political aspects of missile defense from the Indian perspective than is evident in the literature.
To begin with, there are some important difficulties in the opponents' position that need to be
addressed. First of all, they take as axiomatic that any disequilibrium in military "balances" will lead to
arms racing. This, as I will show below, is based on an overly simplified understanding of the
phenomenon of arms racing and the variable dynamics that underlie it. Not all changes in the balance of
forces result in arms racing, and not all arms racing is the consequence of changes in the balance of
forces. Mitigating factors and policy choices are important in determining the relationship between them.
Critics are also off the mark when they express disappointment that the positive direction taken by
developments in arms control after the end of the Cold War is being adversely affected by missile
defense. The reality is that, after the flurry of arms control initiatives that marked the closing stages of
the Cold War and its immediate aftermath, the
momentum of arms control has actually slowed
down significantly. The optimism of the early
post-Cold War phase—the hope that nuclear
weapons could now be delegitimized and
eventually done away with—has receded. Despite
the absence of serious nuclear threats for a decade,
the major nuclear powers have done little to retreat from their overkill postures. It is in this context that,
perhaps, a paradigm shift in the fundamentals of doctrine can be seen as a small ray of hope.
That having been said, I offer below arguments that are supportive of the basic stand taken by the
Indian government on missile defense. I present doctrinal arguments to show that both NMD and TMD
are acceptable (with qualifications) because they will, at worst, do little harm to Indian security, and, at
best, augment it to an appreciable degree.
WHY NMD IS ACCEPTABLE
I begin with a simple assertion: deterrence is really not about weapons inventories and their
operational capabilities. It is at heart about the willingness, or lack of it, to accept immense damage to
one's society in relation to one's objectives.31 It is hard to think of any objective that justifies the risk,
even a small risk, of cataclysmic damage to one's society. Hence, those who are even minimally
threatened by the possibility of nuclear weapons being used against them are invariably compelled to
restrain themselves. In short, states that possess nuclear weapons (hereafter, for the sake of brevity, I use
the term "nuclear states") do not attack other states that have the same capability. Whether or not a
nuclear state possesses missile defense capability, it will not be subject to nuclear attack because it
possesses some capacity to retaliate with its own nuclear weapons.32
 

A.V.

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Even the most robust missile defense does not meaningfully augment deterrence by undermining
an adversary's capacity to threaten it. The possessor of a robust NMD will always be vulnerable to some
unknown quantum of risk from an adversary's first or second strike. No defensive system, no matter how
sophisticated, can be known in advance to be 100 percent effective. That being the case, even the best of
NMD systems cannot guarantee a total defense, not even from an adversary who possesses a handful of
weapons. This means that the possessor of a highly developed NMD cannot use it as a cover to launch a
first strike in the anticipation that there will be no counterstrike. A small risk with very large potential
consequences will remain. What possible objective can justify the taking of such a risk? Once an
adversary has nuclear weapons, it has deterrent capability; and one's possession of missile defense has
only a notional—not a real—effect on that deterrence capability. In effect, a small nuclear power has no
good reason to be afraid of an adversary, large or small, possessing NMD. From the standpoint of the
possessor of NMD, its defensive capability will not be a disincentive to proliferation. Nor will NMD give
it an "edge" in its relationship with a small nuclear power.
This, however, does not mean NMD is without value. It does have some value: it can limit
damage to oneself in the event deterrence fails (or, if you prefer, does not work). There are three ways in
which deterrence might not work: if there is an accidental launch, if there is an unauthorized "renegade"
launch, and if an undeterrable adversary engages in a
suicidal launch. Given the extensive precautions and
safety measures surrounding nuclear weapons, the
probability of any of these events occurring is
extremely low. Before "Black Tuesday," the last
would have been considered by most of us, prone as
we are to clothe deterrence in rationality, as unthinkable. Today, it cannot be ruled out. It follows that,
notwithstanding all the perfectly sensible objections to missile defense—that it is technologically
questionable, that it is too expensive, and that it is unlikely to work very well—its legitimacy lies in its
capacity, regardless of the level of its sophistication and its operational effectiveness, to enable a
significant number of people to survive an intended or unintended nuclear strike. To put it differently, the
weight of risk works the other way here: the small risk that remains has to be countered to the extent
possible. It may be viewed as a form of "catastrophe insurance."33 There is a moral obligation on the part
of the state to do so. There can, in principle, be no argument against saving some lives in the event of a
nuclear strike. How an actual system of defense is conceived of is a matter of the tradeoff expected
between costs and risks.
The argument against NMD is couched in quite different terms. It is an argument that leans on
numerical balances and on the understanding that the certainty of very large-scale destruction underpins
deterrence. But, in practice, it is not one's own certainty of raining untold destruction upon the other that
deters; rather, it is the other's uncertainty about preventing such destruction that deters. The argument
against NMD, then, reveals a logic resting on weak foundations. NMD has no fundamental effect on
nuclear weapons.
But there is still a major difficulty. Even notional capabilities such as NMD or overly large
arsenals evoke insecurity. In the anarchic system that is international politics, the mere possession of
significant military capability by a state is a source of some discomfort to other states. The extent of that
discomfort varies with the overall character of relationships: the greater the cooperation, the less the
discomfort. In relationships characterized by uncertainty or tension, even if there are no powerful sources
of hostility, the numbers game starts to assume significance. Thus, even as the United States and China
move toward greater cooperation through steadily increasing trade and investment relations, the politics
of military numbers is reduced, but not eliminated. This is particularly true of the politics relating to
nuclear weapons since the potential consequences of their use, however unlikely, are so great. In
consequence, such relationships function at two levels. At the primary level, there is mutually reinforcing
economic cooperation and interdependence. At the secondary level, there is a game of move and countermove
dictated in large part by the distribution of notional capability, and by changes in that distribution.
If one does not make this distinction, it is arguable that belief in the potential effects of NMD is
sufficient to generate behavior that is self-fulfilling: the belief that NMD is dangerous might be sufficient
to create the adverse reaction of arms racing and set in motion a destabilizing process. But once a more
discriminating view is taken, different outcomes are possible. Since the dangers associated with NMD
are not primary, it becomes possible to mitigate the perceptions that make it appear as an object of fear
and tension. This can be accomplished by means of a strategy of reassurance. This has been evident for
some time, though in a limited way, by the perceptible shift in the Russian response to NMD, from
outright rejection to a willingness to listen, discuss, and negotiate. That President Putin should have
departed significantly from his position on NATO expansion, to which Russian opposition has been even
stronger than to NMD, is indicative of the possibilities.
US–Russian cooperation over the past decade has been at the primary level, involving a sharp
decline in mutual threat perceptions, collaboration on military-strategic issues (the Gulf, Russian nuclear
safety and stability), and growing levels of economic interaction. Hiccups on issues where their views
have been divergent, such as US interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo or Russia's handling of the Chechen
rebellion, have been secondary. Differences over NMD and the Bush Administration's stated objective of
dismantling the ABM Treaty fall in the latter category. The divergence over this issue has appeared
significant because of the extent of the Bush program's departure from established consensus between the
two countries. Should the gulf be narrowed, the problem will become less serious. There are already
signs that this may happen. The scope for a reassurance-driven approach to NMD is increasing. Despite
the disagreement on the ABM Treaty, the United States and Russia remain committed to arms control
and, more importantly, to a closer Russian relationship with NATO. The same applies to the US–China
relationship. The United States has conveyed its acceptance of Chinese strategic modernization and
shown an interest in engaging China on missile defense. One must also bear in mind that an arms race is
precisely what both Russia and China do not want at a time when their preoccupations revolve more
around economic growth and stability than anything else. Not surprisingly, neither Russia nor China has
reacted strongly to the American rejection of the ABM Treaty.
A US–China arms race is certainly not inevitable. In this connection, Bruno Tertrais's distinction
between two types of arms race is useful.34 Type-I arms races are basically strategic races, whereas Type-
II arms races are driven by symbols and politics. While I am not at one with Tertrais in the example he
chooses to describe them, the conceptual difference is important. I will attempt my own definition.
Where arms races are related to actual capabilities
on the field of battle, such that they would affect
actual outcomes, they may be classified as Type-I or
strategic arms races. Where arms races have little
relevance to actual outcomes on the battlefield or to
the employment of capabilities, they may be
characterized as Type-II or symbolic arms races.
Further, the two types of arms races relate
differently to the types of political relationship I
have described above. In a relationship of hostility
at the primary level, an arms race may be either Type-I or Type-II. Where the relationship is one of
cooperation at the primary level and tension is restricted to the secondary level, the arms race must by
definition be Type-II or symbolic. While symbolic politics may in a sense be as "real" as strategic
politics—the eye of the beholder being a major determinant—it is nonetheless far more amenable to
reassurance than is strategic politics. As such, notwithstanding the many differences between them, it is
well within the realm of possibility that the United States and China could come to an understanding that
prevents an arms race from the deployment of an American NMD. Some of the possibilities for
reassurance that the United States can offer include a very limited and "non-threatening" NMD
deployment, enhanced political and economic cooperation on a range of issues, and prudence on Taiwan.
Again, it is worth pointing out that an expansionary response is not the most cost-effective one for China,
which would not like to divert precious funds from its main goal of economic development.35
In light of this discussion, it is unlikely that there would be cause for anxiety in India about
China's reaction to a US NMD. Such nuclear expansion as it does undertake will not in any case reduce
India's deterrence capacity in the sense that I have
explained above. India has long accepted the
nuclear "gap" between itself and China. The
widening of the "gap" will not make much
difference. China will still be vulnerable to an
Indian strike as and when Indian capacity develops.
The number and relative sophistication of Chinese
forces do not matter. Once Chinese targets are targeted by even a small number of Indian missiles, it is
immaterial whether China has a hundred or two hundred weapons targeting India. No Chinese leader can
risk even a single Indian missile hitting a Chinese city. There is no rationally conceivable objective that
China can hope to attain that would justify such a risk. It need scarcely be added that, with China very
unlikely to respond in a big way to a US NMD, and with India equally unlikely to expand its capabilities,
Pakistan too will not be affected by the putative domino effect of missile defense.
Once the alleged adverse effects of NMD are disposed of, it makes sense to support missile
defense because it attempts, to whatever degree, to save human lives. Indeed, it is a moral imperative.
Moreover, the argument that missile defense has intrinsic merit because it marks a radical departure from
a static nuclear order also carries considerable weight. The Reaganite view that nuclear weapons are
inherently evil, which underlies SDI and propels the present missile defense program, strikes a powerful
chord in Indian thinking, which has always rejected the idea that the security of nations can be maximized
by an unbridled threat to destroy one another. The rejection of the moral validity of nuclear weapons
provides a much sounder basis for arms control than does the Cold War conception of stability based on
assured destruction. Indeed, the weakening of MAD and the consequent fillip to arms reduction may turn
out to be the primary contribution of the missile defense program.36
 

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THE CASE FOR A LIMITED MISSILE DEFENSE
For the United States, defense against theater missile threats has been a long-standing concern.
The extensive use of missiles by other states in strategically important areas, notably during the Iran–Iraq
War and the Soviet war in Afghanistan, created a growing concern about a new "generic threat" to US
forces.37 The most significant direct threat came during the Gulf war, in which the largest single instance
of American casualties resulted from an Iraqi Scud missile attack. TMD became an "Asian issue" only
after China's missile launches in the Taiwan Strait (1995, 1996) and the North Korean launch of a
Taepodong missile (1998). These events also created a serious interest in TMD among American allies—
notably Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan—who were (and are) relatively indifferent to NMD.38 While
none of this impacted directly on India, it certainly enhanced awareness of the problem. Though less
concerned about US NMD, India had a more long-standing interest in missile threats related to missile
defense.39 Its attention to this was attracted by the Arab–Israeli War of 1973, the Iran–Iraq War, the
Soviet war in Afghanistan, and Operation Desert Storm. American use of Tomahawk missiles in
Afghanistan (1998) and Kosovo (1999) added to a general sense of unease. The concern became more
serious following reports about the transfer of Chinese M-11 missiles to Pakistan and the deployment of
Chinese nuclear missiles in Tibet. Since the mid-1990s, the growth of Pakistani nuclear and missile
capabilities has underlined the seriousness of the problem.
The range of missiles developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program
inaugurated by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1983 included not only offensive missiles such as the
nuclear-capable Prithvi and Agni, but also the Akash surface-to-air missile, which has TMD potential.
Indian scientists have developed the Rajendra phased array radar and negotiated with Russia for its S-300
anti-tactical ballistic missile (ATBM) system, and also with Israel for the Arrow ATBM and the Phalcon
airborne early warning (AEW) platform.40 While the cost factor is a serious constraint (the S-300 is
believed to cost from $55 million to $160 million depending on the exact type), Indian interest has been
sustained. A recent report says India is negotiating with Israel to integrate the technology of Akash and
the Arrow-2, and also the Rajendra radar with the Arrow-2's Greenpine radar, which can track a missile
from a distance of 300 km.41
How have India's nuclear adversaries reacted? China does not consider India a serious nuclear
threat because of the limited reach of Indian weapons. There is some concern, though, about Indo–
Russian and Indo–Israeli cooperation and where it might lead in the long run.42 But the Chinese approach
to missile defense has been more political than military, as David Finkelstein has shown.43
Notwithstanding the tension arising from the border dispute and the Sino–Pakistani nuclear and missile
nexus, the China–India relationship remains stable. Trade is on the rise and there is a tacit understanding
that differences should not stand in the way of cooperation.
The same is not the case with the India–Pakistan relationship. Here, military tensions have been
high. While the two have not been at war since 1971, there has been intense acrimony over Kashmir, an
on-going (since the mid-1980s) low-intensity conflict in the Siachen Glacier region, periodic crises over
large-scale military exercises and associated threat perceptions (1986–87, 1990), and an armed clash of
significant proportions in the Kargil sector of Kashmir (1999). Competitive nuclear testing in 1998 and
missile testing before and after that date have heightened the tension. The Pakistani response to
American NMD and to the Indian interest in missile defense has been negative. At the UN Conference on
Disarmament in Geneva, Foreign Secretary Inamul Haq argued that the creation of "shields" would cause
others to improve their "lances," which could "heighten tensions between major powers, jeopardize the
global strategic balance and turn back the disarmament clock."44 Shortly after Bush's May 2001 speech,
Pakistan's Chief Executive, General Parvez Musharraf, criticized the NMD program, averring that it
could "jeopardize international stability, trigger a new arms race and undermine international efforts
aimed at arms control and disarmament."45 The Pakistani view is in accord with the domino theory on
NMD, which springs from a MAD-based perception that one man's missile defense is another's firststrike
vulnerability. That, as I have shown, is of dubious meritFor Pakistan, an Indian missile defense is more worrying still.46 Seen from the MAD perspective,
Indian missile defense creates a problem of vulnerability and credibility for Pakistan's nuclear deterrent.
It nevertheless does not necessitate an arms racing response. As one Pakistani analyst sees it, an arm race
is unaffordable. It would be more appropriate to counter an Indian missile defense with hardened and
mobile basing, countermeasures, and a small numerical preponderance in relation to Indian defense
capability.47 A South Asian ABM Treaty is also desirable in the reasoning of this analyst.48 However, a
South Asian ABM Treaty is based on the flawed assumptions I have criticized above. The doctrinal case
for a limited missile defense is basically the same as that I have made with respect to US NMD, which is
that it neither reduces nor augments deterrence; that it is consequently not inherently destabilizing; and
that it has the merit of promising some damage limitation in the event, unlikely though that may be, of
deterrence failing.
From India's perspective, deterrence failure cannot be ruled out in either of its adversarial
nuclear-strategic relationships. But India's strategic planners have particular reason to be concerned
about the relationship with Pakistan. Deterrence
may not work in two ways: as a result of command
and control errors arising from short reaction time
resulting in accidental launches, or if Pakistani
nuclear weapons fall into the wrong hands. (From
their point of view, Pakistani strategists would worry
about the same things in reverse.) Strategic defense
makes sense if it is not intrinsically destabilizing,
which, as I have shown, is the case. Realistically, no
matter how strong its missile defense capabilities—and these are bound to be limited because of the sheer
magnitude of the task of defending all or even most of its strategic assets—India cannot be certain of
defending adequately against a Pakistani strike. To reiterate, Pakistan will not be rendered vulnerable by
Indian missile defense because India will still be deterred. No Indian decision-maker can possibly
consider acceptable even a small risk of a single Pakistani bomb detonating over an Indian city. By
adding more weapons to its inventory, Pakistan will not alter India's strategic calculus. There will be no
need to. The purpose of an Indian missile defense can at best be to try and minimize damage after
deterrence has failed, which is far from saying that it will give an Indian leader the confidence to strike
first.
The existing India–Pakistan agreement not to attack each other's nuclear facilities carries a
fundamental underlying assumption that is congruent with missile defense. The very notion that nuclear
facilities should not be attacked implies that they are not acceptable targets. In that case, the idea of
defending them cannot be termed unacceptable. Thus, it is reasonable for India and Pakistan to come to
an understanding that extends the agreement and permits the defense of nuclear facilities. This might be
later extended to other targets.
The process of coming to such an agreement would obviously involve much discussion and
negotiation. The important point is to come to an understanding that, by its very nature, minimum
deterrence, to which both countries adhere, does not
require the principles of assured destruction to
underpin it. A clearly understood and enunciated
doctrine of unacceptable damage is not only
adequate for deterrence, but also much more
conducive to strategic stability. It does not exclude
missile defense, for each understands that the other
is easily deterred by a small risk of large-scale
damage. On the contrary, it accommodates missile defense, in itself a moral obligation for governments,
by accepting that a less than absolute capacity to defend against missiles leaves deterrence intact. At the
political level, India needs to assuage Pakistani anxieties by means of reassurance initiatives, i.e.,
unilateral signaling to show its commitment to strategic stability and arms control.49 While the Kargil
episode was a setback, there is still a need—and scope for—reassurance-based efforts toward strategic
stability, whether through bilateral or unilateral efforts. These may take the form of nuclear confidencebuilding
measures, regular discussions aimed at building doctrinal bridges, perhaps a mutual
commitment, tacit or formal, to eschew deployment, and so on.
 

A.V.

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CONCLUSION
I have argued above that, on the whole, missile defense has been much misunderstood. Its
efficacy is limited. It does not meaningfully alter the fundamentals of deterrence, not even in so-called
"asymmetric" nuclear relationships. The preoccupation of established deterrence thinking with numbers
and vulnerability is off the mark. Numbers are not
important; risk is. Even a small risk of nuclear
damage overrides the possible objectives to be
attained by accepting that risk. In effect, the only
utility of missile defenses is the extent, always
limited, to which it can limit damage after deterrence
has failed. The utility of missile defense being
limited, its fate will eventually be decided by politics
and the cost factor. The more extreme American
NMD ambitions will be moderated by both. That in turn will limit Russian and Chinese responses. The
likelihood of a domino effect on India and in turn Pakistan is very low. Such secondary fears as are
evoked by missile defense can be assuaged by active reassurance strategies.
Despite its obvious merits, India cannot pursue missile defense in a big way. It is simply
unaffordable. Nevertheless, it is incumbent upon the government to take at least some steps to protect its
citizens against the small risk of deterrence failure by error, accident, or twisted design. A limited missile
defense to protect major targets (cities, nuclear facilities) is desirable for this purpose. To the extent that
this evokes fears in Pakistan, a strategy of reassurance may be used to alleviate them.
The primary contribution of missile defense to a better world may be doctrinal. The weakening
of MAD and its associated baggage—the requirement of large, sophisticated, and diverse arsenals
assuredly capable of inflicting monumental damage—may eventually generate a new momentum for arms
control by facilitating deep cuts. That would be a welcome development for all states, nuclear and nonnuclear.
From the Indian perspective, as official statements have already acknowledged, the expanded
potential for arms reduction offered by missile defense is in accord with India's sustained commitment to
reducing the global threat of nuclear weapons. Even if it does not happen, missile defense will do no
harm.
Finally, a collaborative approach to missile defense can be a solid basis for strengthening Indo–
US relations. Nonalignment was a strategy born of weakness and fear. A stronger and more confident
India can afford to move closer to the United States, as indeed it has been doing. For all its periodic
proneness to unilateralism, the United States, as a hegemonic power, has learned to work with existing
allies and to build coalitions. It has shown this capacity in the Gulf, in the Balkans, and in Afghanistan.
The likelihood of a domino effect on
India and, in turn, Pakistan is very
low. Such secondary fears as are
evoked by missile defense can be
assuaged by active reassurance
strategies.

As an "emerging power," India can offer it useful economic, political, and military cooperation.50 India
has much to gain from a stronger relationship with the United States, not least the possibility of
augmenting its small missile defense capability. Cooperation on missile defense can be one pillar—an
important one—to buttress this growing relationship while simultaneously enhancing India's security.


http://www.stimson.org/southasia/pdf/SABMDBasrur.pdf
copyright and author rajesh basur ....
 

Patriot

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No need for new European security treaty - NATO chief

BRUSSELS, October 8 (RIA Novosti) - NATO sees no need for a new Russian-backed security system
in Europe, the alliance's secretary general said on Friday.

There is no need for new security agreements, Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in an address to the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) in Brussels.

"The fundamentals of this alliance should not and will not change. Because they make as much sense as they have done for the past 61 years. And because they continue to be essential for the security of our citizens," he said.

However, NATO wants Russia to be part of a missile defenses plan for Europe, Rasmussen said. A decision on whether the plan will go though is expected to be taken at a Russia-NATO summit in Lisbon on November 19-20.

The missile shield would cover all our countries and protect all our population, Rasmussen said, adding that it would not directed against Russia politically.

Russia first voiced calls for an all-ecompassing European security treaty in 2008, and President Dmitry Medvedev said earlier this week that security in Europe is "fragmented."
 

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