The Nuclear and Ballistic Missile Programs of India

Date of Graduation

Spring 1997


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

William Van Cleave


This thesis examines the technical capabilities, purposes, and overall influence of the nuclear and ballistic missile programs of India. These programs are currently among the most comprehensive in the world aside from the five declared nuclear weapons states; yet, India has chosen to deploy only a small number of ballistic missiles and is not believed to have produced nuclear weapons despite having the demonstrated ability to do so. Initially, India justified its pursuit of these weapons with the threat it perceived from the Peoples Republic of China; however, India's desire to be viewed as a world power most certainly influenced these decisions as well. While China continues to affect these programs, a combination of newly arisen internal and external factors may lead India to reconsider its present position on these systems. These include strong internal demands for India to declare itself a nuclear weapons state combined with the growing strength of the pro-nuclear Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). On the other hand, there is continued international pressure for India to renounce the nuclear weapons option and sign the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). These new factors reduce the likelihood of India choosing to maintain the long-standing status quo of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Steven D Klos