India's Nuclear Weapons: a Strategic Assessment

Date of Graduation

Fall 2001


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

William Van Cleave


In May, 1998, after forty years of thinking about nuclear weapons, India tested five warhead designs and declared itself a nuclear weapons state. This in turn provoked Pakistan into testing its own nuclear warhead designs. These events create a new security environment on the sub-continent. However, India must also deal with the threat of Chinese nuclear weapons. Together China and Pakistan are the most important aspect of the Indian threat environment. Russia, India's long time ally, is however, also important to this work as is the United States because of its stance on proliferation and the pressure it put on India since the May 1998, tests. This thesis examines the Indian nuclear program, the decisions leading to the 1998 testing, and the policies that have appeared since. It attempts to infer what India's nuclear doctrine and strategy are and what it will do with its nuclear capability. It will also assess how nuclear weapons affect India's foreign policy towards China, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States.

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Christopher Linkie


Open Access