Make n-doctrine public: Saran

The government should make its nuclear doctrine public as secrecy has now become counter-productive,prime minister’s former special envoy on the Indo-US nuclear deal Shyam Saran said

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: April 25, 2013 3:40 am

The government should make its nuclear doctrine public as secrecy has now become counter-productive,prime minister’s former special envoy on the Indo-US nuclear deal Shyam Saran said Wednesday.

“The secrecy which surrounds our nuclear programme,a legacy of long years of developing and maintaining strategic capabilities,is now counter-productive,” Saran,now chairman of the National Security Advisory Board,said in a lecture on ‘Is India’s Nuclear Deterrent Credible?’ Saran,however,clarified that this was his opinion,not of NSAB.

“There has been significant progress in the modernisation and operationalisation of our strategic assets but this is rarely and only anecdotally shared with the public. The result is an information vacuum which then gets occupied by either ill-informed or motivated speculation or assessments. To begin with,I would hope the government makes public its nuclear doctrine and releases data regularly on what steps have been taken and are being taken to put the requirements of the doctrine in place. It is not necessary to share operational details but an overall survey such as an annual strategic posture review,should be shared with citizens of the country who,after all,pay for the security which the deterrent is supposed to provide to them.”

India adopted a nuclear doctrine in January 2003 but is yet to make its full text public. It was based on the draft doctrine that was released in August 1999,more than a year after a nuclear bomb was tested at Pokharan.

Saran,who has spent years in the foreign policy,strategic and security establishment,said the argument that India’s nuclear deterrent was mostly symbolic was based on the perception that its armed forces were not fully part of the strategic decision-making process and play second fiddle to the civilian bureaucracy and the scientific establishment.

“Even if this perception is true,and in fact it is not,one can’t accept that the credibility of India’s nuclear deterrence demands management by military,” Saran said. “It is the civilian political leadership that must make judgments about domestic political,social and economic priorities as well as the imperatives imposed by a changing regional and global geopolitical environment. The military must be enabled to provide its perspectives and inputs… Undoubtedly,the military’s inputs and advice would have to carry weight,especially in operational matters. But to equate exclusive military management of strategic forces,albeit under the political leadership’s overall command,as sine qua non of deterrence credibility is neither necessary nor desirable,” he said.

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