Sometime this week, India is expected to take one more step towards firming a credible nuclear deterrent. It is expected to test Agni-V, an intercontinental ballistic missile.
India’s nuclear posture has always been defensive, but its credibility requires an ability to withstand a second nuclear strike. That requires land-, sea- and air-based nuclear launch capability. It also requires missiles with a range sufficient to reach any potentially hostile country. Agni-V has a range of 5,000km.
File photo of Agni III missile
So far, India’s deterrence credibility is questionable for it lacks a sea-based nuclear launch capability. The INS Arihant is still some time away from being a weaponized device. A missile deterrent is not worth its name until its range extends from very short (250km) to much longer distances. Hopefully, Agni-V will live up to its promise and complete at least one leg of the nuclear triad.