India on Monday (Nov 5) declared that its nuclear triad, stated in its nuclear doctrine, is operational after indigenous ballistic missile nuclear submarine INS Arihant achieved a milestone by conducting its first deterrence patrol.
This means that Arihant is now prowling the deep seas carrying ballistic missiles equipped with nuclear warheads. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi received today [Monday] the crew of ship submersible ballistic nuclear (SSBN) INS Arihant. The submarine recently returned from its first deterrence patrol, completing the establishment of the country’s survivable nuclear triad,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.
Calling it a major achievement for the entire nation, Mr. Modi said the success of INS Arihant enhances India’s security needs.
“True to its name, INS Arihant will protect the 130 crore Indians from external threats and contribute to the atmosphere of peace in the region,” he said in a tweet.
Wishing the team members behind the project and their families on the occasion of Deepavali, the Festival of Light, Mr. Modi expressed the hope that “just as light dispels darkness and all fear, INS Arihant will be harbinger of fearlessness for the country.”
Given India’s stated position of ‘No-First-Use’ (NFU) in launching nuclear weapons, the SSBN is the most dependable platform for a second-strike. Because they are powered by nuclear reactors, these submarines can stay underwater indefinitely without the adversary detecting it. The other two platforms — land-based and air-launched are far easier to detect.
“This places India in the league of the few countries that can design, construct and operate SSBN,” Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted on the development.
As reported by The Hindu earlier, Arihant was quietly commissioned into service in August 2016 but its induction was never officially acknowledged. It has a displacement of 6000 tonnes and is powered by an 83 MW pressurised light-water reactor with enriched uranium.
The Advanced Technology Project (ATV) project began in the 1980s and the first of them, Arihant, was launched in 2009 by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. Since then it underwent extensive sea trials and the reactor on board went critical in 2013.
In 1998, India conducted nuclear tests under Pokhran-II and in 2003, it declared its nuclear doctrine based on credible minimum deterrence and a NFU policy while reserving the right of massive retaliation if struck with nuclear weapons first.
Arihant is presently armed with K-15 Sagarika missiles with a range of 750 km and will eventually carry the longer 3,500 km range K-4 missiles being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
The second submarine in the series, Arighat is now undergoing sea trials after which it will be inducted into service.