On April 24, 2013, Shyam Saran, Chairman of India’s National Security Advisory Board (NSAB), Shyam Saran, delivered an address in New Delhi entitled: “Is India’s Nuclear Deterrent Credible?

In the talk, he said:

“the label on a nuclear weapon used for attacking India, strategic or tactical, is irrelevant from the Indian perspective. A limited nuclear war is a contradiction in terms. Any nuclear exchange, once initiated, would swiftly and inexorably escalate to the strategic level. Pakistan would be prudent not to assume otherwise as it sometimes appears to do, most recently by developing and perhaps deploying theatre nuclear weapons.”

How to label nuclear weapons and their delivery systems – tactical, strategic, battlefield, etc. – has been a subject of debate since their inception. What’s your take? In South Asia, is there a realistic or clear distinction between “strategic” and “tactical” nuclear weapons? Would either country ever view the use of nuclear weapons as tactical? Do India and Pakistan share an understanding of the nature or deterrence value of different nuclear weapons systems?

Are there other authors to read on this subject? Please weigh in below.


Image: Pallava Bagla-Corbis, Getty

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