Vol. 9 No. 1 (2021): A Journal of Strategic Studies, Summer 2021

India’s Undersea Nuclear Deterrence Impact on Indian Ocean Region’s Strategic Stability

Saima Aman Sial
Senior Research Officer at the Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS)
Tooba Ghaffar
Research Assistant at the Center for International Strategic Studies Islamabad (CISS)
Published August 9, 2021
  • Nuclear deterrence,
  • Anti-submarine warfare,
  • naval strategy,
  • inadvertent escalation,
  • India-Pakistan,
  • strategic stability
  • ...More
How to Cite
Saima Aman Sial, & Tooba Ghaffar. (2021). India’s Undersea Nuclear Deterrence Impact on Indian Ocean Region’s Strategic Stability. CISS Insight Journal, 9(1), P01-32. Retrieved from http://journal.ciss.org.pk/index.php/ciss-insight/article/view/200


India is pursuing an expansive naval modernization program, aimed at transforming its maritime force into a blue water navy and to exert influence far from its coastline into the high seas. The major Indian motivation behind its naval expansion is to keep the external powers out, project power in the Indian Ocean (IO) and protect its Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOCs). In its bid to assure its dominance in the Indian Ocean, India has opted to carry the nuclear competition to the Indian Ocean by developing a strategic submarine as an Assured Second-Strike platform. This development has, apart from putting India into the league of the few advanced states with a strategic submarine, provided India with the tools to exercise greater seacontrol and, in turn, accentuate Pakistan’s strategic anxieties. Although it is claimed that the strategic submarine allows India to consolidate its second-strike capability, however, such a capability with one nuclear armed adversary in a nuclear dyad destabilizes deterrence. Moreover, recent shifts in India’s strategic debate about the necessity of not abiding to a No First Use (NFU) points to new challenges. These new shifts in India’s nuclear doctrine, coupled with the strategic submarine program, would make preemptive counterforce an attractive option, increasing the likelihood of crisis instability as well as undermining South Asian strategic stability.