Rethinking India’s Nuclear Policy: Credible Minimum Nuclear Deterrence as a Dynamic Transformation of Nuclear Option Open

  • Hiroaki Nakanishi (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


After its 1998 nuclear test, India’s nuclear doctrine was described as ‘credible minimum nuclear deterrence’. India’s nuclear doctrine and policy are often characterized, in the academic discourse, as if the country pursues an assertive military doctrine and policy. Has the Indian National Congress (INC)-led government that has been in place since 2004 altered the nuclear policy formulated by the former Bharatiya Jhanata Party (BJP)-led government? Although the BJP-led government led India towards nuclearization in 1998, in practice, it appears to have maintained a posture of restraint. To clarify India’s nuclear policy under the INC-led government that has been in power since 2004, this paper analyzes continuities and discontinuities between the two governments. It argues that the present government has endorsed a nuclear policy that resembles the 1999 Draft on Nuclear Doctrine, reflecting a traditional policy called ‘nuclear option open’.


India, Nuclear Policy, Deterrence, Transformation, Indian National Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party