Recently, India’s first indigenous nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), INS Arihant (destroyer of enemies), has successfully completed its first deterrence patrol. It means that the submarine is fully operational now and when the signal goes out from New Delhi to INS Arihant, it should be able to launch a nuclear missile. However, experts have questioned its credibility to achieve a true nuclear triad.
The USA-Russia relations received another blow on May 21, 2020, when US President Donald Trump announced that the US will be pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty (OST), a major arms control measure that aided transparency and confidence-building among 34 countries, especially between the US and Russia. The pulling out from OST by US was next in line after withdrawal from Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force (INF) treaty last year by the US. Though it seems to be caused by increasing distrust between the two countries on the face of it, it is in line with the transactional approach of diplomacy by President Trump.
Since conducting its second nuclear tests in 1998, India had adhered to a self-imposed commitment to “No First Use” of nuclear weapons on another country. However, on August 16th, 2019, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had hinted that in future India’s “no first use” policy “depends on circumstances”. Following this episode, the Defence Minister had effectively reduced the already bleak chances of India becoming a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. However, in the current situation, it matters very little for India as it already has the necessary benefits it needs to expand and operate its nuclear programme.