Pakistan, India in a naval and nuclear arms race

Pakistan has finalized its long-negotiated submarine deal with China, with four to be built in China and four in Pakistan. Analysts believe the submarines will go a long way toward maintaining a credible conventional deterrent against India, and also largely secure the sea-based arm of Pakistan’s nuclear triad.

India is making a credible nuclear strategic triad capability. India’s first ballistic nuclear submarine (SSBN), the INS Arihant (which means destroyer of enemies), has been moved out of harbor for sea trials. The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) recently tested a 3,000 km range submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) named K-4, from a pontoon submerged 30 feet deep, off the coast of Visakhapatnam located on the eastern coast.

China completed a credible nuclear triad in 2014 and China is extending its global reach.

A nuclear triad refers to the nuclear weapons delivery of a strategic nuclear arsenal which consists of three components, traditionally strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and

submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

Construction of the Pakistan submarines could begin as early as mid-2016.

These submarines have been linked by analysts to securing the sea-based arm of Pakistan’s nuclear triad. However, according to recent Chinese media reports, Pakistan’s access to the military grade Chinese Beidou-II (BDS-2) satellite navigation network is perhaps of equal importance.

Pakistan has had its land based nuclear missiles. Pakistan has some older bombers and is looking to acquire improved fighter bombers from China and Russia.

There is a Carnegie Endowment for Peace report on Nuclear Dynamics in the Indian Ocean.

* India’s pursuit of a sea-based nuclear strike force is the next logical step in its quest for an assured retaliatory capability.

* To enjoy an effective sea-based deterrent vis-à-vis China, India’s other prospective nuclear adversary, New Delhi has to develop larger SSBNs with greater missile carriage capacity and more powerful nuclear reactors.
* Pakistan’s naval nuclear ambitions are fueled primarily by the sense of a growing conventional, rather than strategic, imbalance between New Delhi and Islamabad.

* By dispersing low-yield nuclear weapons across a variety of naval platforms, Islamabad aims to acquire escalation dominance and greater strategic depth and to reduce the incentives for a preemptive strike on its nuclear assets.