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Watch out China: The Indian Navy Has a New Nuclear Missile Submarine

Questions will inevitably be raised about the security of hosting nuclear weapons on Indian ships as the country’s navy, and submarine fleet in particular, has suffered from a number of mishaps in recent years. Most notably, an explosion on the Russian-built INS Sindhurakshak submarine sunk the ship and killed eighteen sailors in 2013. The next year, there was a fire on another submarine, the INS Sindhuratna, which killed two people. A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General’s latter blamed crew fatigue and outdated ammunition as the causes of these incidents.

The emergence of India’s SSBNs is another example of a growing technological arms race among the so-called nuclear triangle of China, India and Pakistan. In 2012, India first tested its Agni-V intermediate ballistic missile, which is capable of reaching all parts of China. As alluded to above, China also recently acquired its first operational SSBNs, which began conducting deterrent patrols sometime in 2016. China also recently began deploying multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRVs) on its ballistic missiles, a step India is also likely to take if it already hasn’t. Both India and China have also been improving their targeting capabilities through improved intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. On the other hand, Pakistan has been focusing on building up a large tactical nuclear weapon arsenal to repeal any Indian conventional attacks.

Zachary Keck (@ZacharyKeck) is the Wohlstetter Public Affairs Fellow at the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center.

This article first appeared in September 2017.

Image: Reuters

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