Emerging Trends in the Nuclear Triad

P.K. Ghosh, Research Fellow


The purpose and aim of nuclear delivery platforms of the nuclear weapon capable states has changed considerably since their first use during World War II.

These delivery platforms have not always evolved from their respective nuclear doctrines, but often due to extraneous circumstances. Hence, at times, their develop-ment has been incongruent with the prevailing doctrine.

Different delivery platforms have different survival capabilities. An analysis of the strategic nuclear weapons/ platforms of nuclear capable states reveals that amongst gross reduction in weapon numbers, states are moving towards limited deterrence on to a minimalist posture (deployment of US National Missile Defence (NMD) and Theatre Missile Defence (TMD) systems may, however, see an alteration in this trend) while simultaneously seeking higher technological regimes.

Most importantly, it is revealing to note that there exists a tendency to place overwhelming dependence on the survivable, second strike capable, sea-based deterrence leg of the triad. In some countries, this will soon become the dominant leg in the near future. Thus, confirming that this leg has enormous future potential due to its high survivability index.

Nuclear weapons are like fire insurance, you buy them even if you don't want to use them.

— Brent Scowcroft

Chairman Presidential Commission on Strategic Forces (1983)

Nuclear delivery platforms have come a long way since the dropping of "Little Man" and "Fat Boy" by B29 bombers on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. The purpose and aim of delivery platforms and strategic forces has shifted during the past three decades from that of war fighting1 and is now closely interlinked to the aspects of the theory of deterrence. In that theory, 'deterrence' being the act of dissuading a potential aggressor by a show of will and capability to carry out punitive retaliation with consequences that the aggressor will view as unacceptable. If the aggressor perceives that he can incapacitate his adversary prior to retaliation, deterrence is undermined. Hence, this is the reason that strategic forces with nuclear delivery platforms must be able to assure survivability for a second strike and pre-emption cannot occur, maximising deterrence in the process.2 Unfortunately, in most nuclear weapon states (NWS) the development of nuclear delivery systems, has not entirely been guided by the dictates of the prevailing nuclear doctrine and strategy at that time, but by considerations such as:

(a) The Dynamics of Technological Regimes. The dynamics primarily include the prevailing level of technology in that field, the accessibility of the required level of technology for development/ updating and, importantly, the ability of the host country to imbibe the same.3

(b) The Economic Factor: Economic factors have often been the primary consideration in most cases. The vast amount of funds required not only to develop, but to produce, continuously update and, most importantly, to maintain the various individual legs of the nuclear triad has led countries to rethink their options into opting for cheaper and more survivable alternatives. The example being that of France wherein the choice of opting for a stable nuclear diad has its roots in economic considerations.

(c) The Political Will. The sustained will of the political elite along with that of the people of the state, (the latter, being more applicable to democracies) is probably one of the most important aspects of developing/ acquisition of nuclear weapons, delivery platforms and strategic forces. It was, for example, De Gaulle's will for reasserting the French national pride which was one of the basic reasons for the decision to go in for the French nuclear bomb, the 'independent way'—a process that commenced much earlier than the coming to power of De Gaulle.4 Similarly, the procurement/testing of various nuclear capable long range missiles from North Korea and China, labelled with Pakistani names has been carried out by Pakistan with overwhelming public support and against international will .5

(d) Extraneous Circumstances. Forces that are extraneous to the cause have often influenced the development/ non-development of the legs of the nuclear triad. The geopolitics of the region has wielded some influence in this respect. Israel with a known stockpile of nuclear weapons and delivery platforms, for example, has been pursuing a nuclear weapons programme, (mainly missile oriented) since April 1963, even before her Dimona reactor began operating.6 Till date, Israel's entire nuclear weapons/delivery platforms acquisition programme has been entirely covert since any overt action could catalyse an explosive reaction of an enhanced need for such weapons in the turbulent neighbourhood.

(e) Inter-Service Rivalry. The infighting within the armed forces of the NWS has played an important part in the triad development. Each Service has individually tried to bring the nuclear weapons, their delivery platforms and associated strategic forces, within its ambit so as to corner enhanced budgetary allocations, prestige and perceived power. Thus, parochial interests of each military Service and the bureaucratic focus of each Service budget played the greatest part in determining the strategic force structure.7 Stephen I. Schwartz has this to say in his study on the subject, "But the triad as we know it was not the result of any systematic plan. It simply evolved as the Air Force and the Navy (the Army was effectively prevented from competing in the strategic arena) built weapons in no small measure to deny the budgetary advantage to each other".

Thus, the nuclear triad in most countries evolved not as a systematic corollary to their strategic nuclear doctrine, but in a way restricted by the above constraints. This necessitated doctrinal adjustments to suit delivery patterns and weapon characteristics rather than the other way round. Hence, it is not surprising to find that the growth of the triad or their individual legs at times, is incongruent to the strategic nuclear doctrine. The example being that of India wherein the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) authored draft nuclear doctrine is based on the bedrock of "no-first-use" and hence on survivability for a second and retaliatory, punitive strike. Amongst other things, the doctrine also mentions "development of a classical triad" knowing fully well that only ballistic missile nuclear submarines (SSBNs) armed with submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) have the assured second strike capability under present technological conditions, thus, the slight incongruence.

The aim of this article is to explore the current trends in the triad against the background of their past/present deployment within the nuclear capable states and, thus, evolve a discernible pattern in the dominance levels of its various legs. This will help in proposing further options for India. It must be mentioned that though non-proliferation treaties have enormous significance in the present levels of delivery platforms and weapons, due to space constraints only those in vogue will find brief mention.

Each leg of the triad offers capabilities that complement one another, and varying degrees of readiness and survivability. It is important to ascertain the readiness/ survivability pattern of each leg in general terms:


The earliest type of nuclear delivery platform, bombers, provide immense flexibility, in that they can be used and reloaded for use by conventional as well as nuclear weapons. They can carry a variety of nuclear bombs and air launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) and their attractiveness with the decision-makers lies in that they are recallable, giving them the luxury of additional time for correct decision-making. Though some modern bombers are extremely high-tech with stealth features, overall, in comparison to the other legs of the triad, the level of technological requirement is lower.

If the nuclear weapons are stored away from the bomber base (as they usually are under normal conditions) they cannot be launched quickly and, most importantly, they are the least survivable leg of the triad. Threats to the survivability of the bomber force can be clearly defined although paper calculations of how many would survive depends on parameters which are not simple to estimate realistically.

An attractive target for exchange ratio, few enemy resources are required to eliminate these aircraft. Regeneration is highly visible and could be used to signal serious intent at the time of crisis, as, on the other hand, also exacerbate rising tensions.8

The bomber is likely to be the choice of delivery platform for high precision air strikes with low yield weapons where it is necessary to keep the collateral damage small and confined.

Ballistic Missiles

Ballistic missiles are fairly reliable, low cost weapons with a high alert rate. Classified according to their ranges, they are effective because they can be launched quickly and are difficult to defend (notwithstanding the anti-missile defence systems like National Missile Defence (NMD), Theatre Missile Defence (TMD), etc. of the US currently under development). These missiles are not highly survivable if they are not mobile. In fact Levi, Sakit, and Hobson have concluded (Future of Land Based Strategic Missiles: 1988) that no land based missile option optimises survivability, stability and command and control flexibility.9

Nuclear Powered Ballistic Missile Submarines

All reasonable estimates of the current vulnerability of this third leg of the triad indicates that it has "assured survivability" under the present technological regimes and given the vast ocean expanses that submarine forces can operate with minimal exposure. Hence, SSBNs are extremely useful as retaliatory/second strike weapons.10 Projections about possible future vulnerabilities in the form of enhanced anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities or precision locating technology in the form of "blue green laser" is still speculative at this point of time.

Potential vulnerabilities are hard to define, no less to calculate realistically. However, some of the vulnerabilities include destruction of land based submarine communication networks including complex antenna networking grids spread over large areas. These can be overcome to an extent by having a large number of redundancies placed geographically far apart.

The other vulnerability lies in the destruction of the SSBNs at the harbour or at homeport. This, of course, is a problem, which is likely to be faced by all the other legs of the triad and can be overcome by an enhanced security apparatus.

Now, each of the nuclear capable states will be taken up individually to analyse the trends in nuclear delivery platforms.


In order to remain a world power, on October 3, 1952, Britain carried out its first nuclear test on board a ship moored off the northwest coast of Australia, having decided, way back in 1945 to create a nuclear weapons programme using plutonium as fissile material.

However, reduction in the nuclear triad legs started early. By 1963, Britain had eliminated its last land based nuclear missile leg of the triad. With the passage of time, the air force leg, personified by the Royal Air Force (RAF), steadily reduced its squadrons of dual capable Tornado aircraft with the last of the Buccaneer aircraft (27 of them) being retired in 1994.11 Then in a major policy shift, the decision to cancel the nuclear tactical air-to-surface missile (TASM) programme was announced in October 1993. This missile was supposed to replace the aging WE-177 gravity bombs.12

There were many reasons for cancellation of this prestigious programme. The main one being that the dissolution of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact had put the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) under tremendous pressure to cut its budget since the requirement of a nuclear stand-off weapon was not sufficiently high to justify the expense of procuring a new nuclear delivery system.13

Another important milestone in gauging the trends of reduction of the triad with respect to Britain was reached in July 1998 with the Strategic Defence Review (SDR). The review confirmed that in a changing and uncertain world, Britain continued to require a credible and effective minimum nuclear deterrent based on the new Trident submarine force. This being the only nuclear system available after the withdrawal of the WE-177, the last of the RAF's free fall gravity nuclear bombs, earlier the same year.14

The Labour government announced in July 1998, several decisions resulting from the SDR:

(a) That only one British submarine will patrol at any given time with the boat carrying a reduced load of 48 warheads, half the number the Conservative government had previously planned.

(b) The submarine will patrol at a reduced state of alert, its missiles de-targetted, thus, will be able to fire them within days and not minutes as during the Cold War period. The submarine will also carry out secondary tasks.

(c) Britain will maintain fewer than 200 operationally available warheads. This will be a one-third reduction from the Conservative government's plan of 300.

(d) Britain will purchase only 58 Trident D-5s rather than 65.

With these decisions coming into effect, the total explosive power of Britain's operationally available weapons would have reduced to more than 70 per cent since the end of the Cold War,15 with the entire thrust of the strategic nuclear triad resting on the under sea leg.

Table 1. British Nuclear Forces, 200016

Type Designation No. Year Range Warhead Warheads in

deployed deployed (km) x yield stockpile

SSBNs/ Trident II 48 1994 7,400 1-3x100 185

SLBMs Kiloton (Kt)


Until recently, the RAF operated eight squadrons of the dual capable Tornado GR1/1A aircraft, but the withdrawal of WE-177 bombs brought an end to the four decades long history of RAF aircraft carrying nuclear weapons, with the Tornadoes (numbering approximately 40) being reassigned to different bases with non-nuclear roles.

The Vanguards replaced the Resolution class submarines, which were commissioned from 1966-69, the last one being decommissioned in 1996. The submarines carried the modified Polaris A-3 SLBMs with the system designated as the A-3TK Chevaline which was designed to defeat the Soviet anti-missile system.

When looking for a replacement for the Polaris from the Americans, the British initially chose the Trident 4, but in 1983, finally chose the "Rolls Royce" of SLBMs, the Trident II D-5—the leap in capability being considerable.18

Each Vanguard SSBN carries 16 US produced Trident II D-5. Technically, there is no US or British Trident II. A pool of SLBMs are kept at the Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic at the Kings Bay Submarines Bay in Georgia. Britain has a title to 58, but does not actually own them. A missile that may be deployed in the US may be deployed at the UK later or vice versa.

It has been estimated that in a dual role/mission, an SSBN may carry 36-44 warheads on board during patrol.19


Even though French nuclear research began well before World War II, the French nuclear arsenal is largely a legacy of De Gaulle's insistence on French strategic independence. This process was hastened due to the 1956 Franco-British Suez operation, which exposed the dissidence within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) alliance, between the American protector and other countries. A French view is that the nuclear capability simply flowed from the need to maintain her status as a world power for over three centuries.20 In retrospect, the nuclear weapons certainly gave France the leverage within the Alliance, which it otherwise would have been denied due to its economic weakness.

According to an estimate, the French nuclear arsenal is the third largest in the world. Unlike Britain, France did not import strategic missiles from the US. As stated earlier, the French politico-military establishment insisted on indigenous development and national independence, no matter the additional cost. Until 1996, French nuclear weapons were deployed on a classical triad mirroring those of Russia and the US. However, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Gulf War and the implosion of the Soviet Union, and internally, the all-important budgetary constraints made the political consensus that supported the French nuclear force crumble. Several presidential decisions further raised doubts about the force de frappe once considered the top priority in matters of strategy. Finally, on February 22-23, 1996, President Chirac announced his intention to eliminate the land-based deterrence destroying the 30 sub-strategic Hades from storage and the S3D missiles, thus, reducing their triad to a diad.21

Table 2. French Nuclear Forces 200022

Delivery No. Year Range Warheads Warheads Notes

Vehicle deployed deployed (km) x yield in stockpile

Land based 45 1988 2,750 1X300kt 60

aircraft ASMP

Mirage 2000N

Carrier based 24 1978 650 1X300kt 20

aircraft ASMP

Super Etendard

SLBMs 32 1985 6,000 6 X 150kt 192 On 4

M4 A/B L'Inflexible


M45 32 1996 6,000 6 X 100kt 192 On Le Triomphant SSBN


The French have always looked at these "tactically deployable" air launched weapons as serving the purpose of the "final warning" weapon. This meant that the use of this leg of the triad is supposed to constitute the "final warning" prior to a large-scale strategic attack.

In July 1996, after a long 32 years of service, the Mirage IVP relinquished their nuclear role. With the exception of five of these aircraft designated for reconnaissance missions, the balance were put into storage at Chateaudun.

Three squadrons of the Mirage 2000N have now been assigned a strategic role in addition to their "pre-strategic" one. One additional conventional squadron of Mirage 2000Ns would probably be modified to carry Air- Sol-Moyene (ASMP) missiles.

Chirac's February 1996 pronouncement of developing a longer range ASMP (ASMP2G) with a range of 100 km in low and 500 km in high altitude trajectory would in all probability take 8-10 years to enter service.

The future of this leg seems to point towards the multi-purpose Rafale that will carry the nuclear tipped ASMP/ ASMP2G. The Rafale D will probably acquire the nuclear strike role by 2005.

The French aircraft carrier Foch, commissioned in 1963, is capable of "handling and storing" the ASMP which were a replacement for the 1991 retired AN52 nuclear gravity bombs that were earlier carried by the Super Etendard. The ship can carry approximately 20 nuclear missiles for the 24 (two squadrons) Super Etendards that can be based on board.

The new aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is presently capable of carrying a single squadron of Super Etendards with 10 ASMPs until the Rafale M is introduced around 2002 (when they will probably order the third aircraft carrier).


The French lay considerable stress on this diad leg and as such the strategic submarine force represents four-fifths of the French nuclear arsenal. Of the five nuclear submarines currently in the strategic submarine force, four are always operational, of which two are always out at sea. Each submarine has 16 M4 missiles, each with six nuclear weapons (TN70 and TN71 warheads).

The new strategic submarine programme originally called for six new submarines (SNLE-LG) which were reduced to three due to budgetary constraints. Later, in February 1996, President Chirac confirmed that four will be produced and that a new SLBM M51 will replace the M45 by 2008/2010. This is likely to equip the fourth submarine as and when it is commissioned.

The lead SSBN Le Triomphant was commissioned in 1996, armed with M45 SLBMs bearing the new warhead TN75. The second, Le Temraire, entered service in 1999 and the third, Le Vigilant, is expected to be launched in March 2002.24


In 1953, under the guise of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the Chinese had initiated development of nuclear weapons. The help of the Soviets proved crucial in this regard, especially after a secret agreement. With the cooling of their relations and the withholding of the atomic bomb design data by the Soviets during the late 1950s/ early 1960s (the treaty was also abrogated during this period), the Chinese were committed to continue the development themselves. In a 32-month period the Chinese exploded their first atomic bomb on October 16, 1964, launched their first nuclear missile on October 25, 1966, and detonated their first fusion bomb on June 14, 1967.

The first few tests concentrated on missile warheads and gravity bombs with aircraft being their delivery system (the other area of concentration was thermonuclear warheads).

After development of their sea-based nuclear force, the Chinese simultaneously concentrated on developing their tactical nuclear weapons. However, their possession remained unconfirmed till 1987.25

Table 3. Chinese Nuclear Arsenal26

Type No. Year Range Warheads x Warheads Comments

(NATO designation deployed deployed (km) yield in stockpile

in brackets)

Land Based Missiles 40 1971 2,800 1x3.3 Mt 40-80 Road mobile, deployed on

DongFeng (DF) (one warhead/ 40 refire capable launchers.

3/3A (CSS-2) missile 120-150 minutes launch preparation time

DF4 20 1980 5,500 1x3.3 Mt 10-20 60-120 minute launch

(CSS-3) (one warhead/ preparation time


DF5/5A 20 1981 13,000+ 1x4-5Mt 20 (estimates vary), 30-60 minute launch

(CSS-4) single warhead missile) preparation time

DF21/21A 48 1988 1,800 1X 200-300kt 25-50 10-15 minute launch

(one warhead/ missile) preparation time; same as JL-1 SLBM; replacing DF- 3 in some deployment areas on converted DF3 launchers.

DF-31 End 1999/ 8,000 1x 250 kT or Unknown war- Under deployment in

(CSS-X-9) Early 2000 650kt or in heads in stockpile, southern China. Three stage,

MIRV state probably 10-20 solid fuelled, road mobile

3x 90kT will be built. missile. Displayed in

(one warhead/missile October 1999. Original or MIRV) design requirement was for JL2.

SLBMs 12 1986 1,700 1X 200-300kt 12 (single warhead Same as DF21/21A;

Julang-1 missile) 12 missiles on one Xia

(CSS-N-3) class submarine

Julang-2 8,000 1x 250 kT or 650kt Under development with

(CSS-NX-5) or in MIRV state similar characteristics as the

3x 90kT DF-31. Delayed due to delay in Type 094 SSBN development

Aircraft 120 1965 3,100 1-3 bombs 120 (presumed to have Redesign of Soviet Tu-26

Hong-6 150nuc. gravity bombs

(B-6) for its a/c)

Qian-5 30 1970 400 1xbomb 30 (presumed to have Redesign of Soviet Mig-19

Attack aircraft 150nuc. gravity bombs

(A-5A) for its a/c)

Sub-strategic missiles 600 Single nuclear 30 minutes launch

DF-15/M-9 warhead, preparation time; nuclear

(CSS-6,CSST-600) 50-350 kT role of M-9 not yet confirmed

DF11/M11 280 Single nuclear 30-45 minutes launch

(CSS7) warhead, 350 kT preparation time; nuclear

role of M-11 not yet confirmed

The Chinese place considerable stress on their fairly large and sophisticated family of ballistic missiles. This leg of the triad has received importance from them ever since the initial days of nuclear weaponisation. Their single-minded determination in upgrading to a later generation of missiles is evident from their development of DF31 missiles, which is a three stage solid fuelled missile and a considerable advancement on the previous generation of missiles. The missile was tested for the fifth time, recently from Wuzhai, on August 2, 1999 and is deployed in the southern borders of China.27 On the other hand, their 12,000 km range DF41 (CSS-X-10), is a three stage solid fuelled missile, also under development and is expected to take a few more years before being deployed.

The DF3 missile is more than 25 years old and is being slowly retired from service. The two stage, liquid fuelled DF4 is deployable in a silo or transportable mode. The DF21, which is a solid fuelled two-stage missile, is carried in a canister on a transporter-erector-launcher (TEL). The improved version of the same missile however, is yet to be deployed.

There has been considerable overlap between military and civil programmes in China, via cooperative dual use technologies. This is likely to continue. It is expected that China will develop space launch vehicles from the solid propellant DF31 and DF41 missiles programme to fulfil its aim of launching a spacecraft by 2003.28

The realisation of the importance of sea based nuclear deterrence seems to be dawning on the Chinese. This has led to an aggressive pursuit of this leg of the triad. Admiral Zhang Lianzhong has stated, "The development of a nuclear powered submarine is the chief objective of this century."

This determination has manifested in trying to develop the Type 094 SSBN and the JL2 SLBM (a variant of the DF31 missile). However, the Chinese have faced considerable difficulty in developing SSBNs and nuclear attack submarines (SSNs). It has only one operational Xia class SSBN that was deployed in January 1989. The programme was intended to be larger (as shown in Fig 3). The construction of a second Xia class submarine was begun, but never completed and was abandoned midway. The construction of their new SSBN Type 094, to be armed with the Julang II SLBM, has begun, but is expected to take some years prior to deployment.

Thus, technical difficulties with nuclear reactors for the submarines and solid fuel for the SLBMs seems to have curtailed the full development of this leg of the triad. In this context, it is noteworthy that the Chinese have never had the confidence to sail their Xia class and the five Han class beyond China's regional waters. However, the Central Military Commission (CMC) has stated that the SSBN force patrols will be made a matter of routine by 2005, which reinforces the importance the Chinese hierarchy is according to this triad leg.29

The air force leg of the Chinese nuclear triad is antiquated and based on Chinese produced versions of 1950 vintage aircraft. Their main bomber is the Hong-6, which is based on the Soviet Tu-16. The Chinese began its licensed production in the 1960s and it finally entered service in 1965.

Modernisation of this air leg of the triad could occur through adaptation of aircraft purchased from abroad, mainly Russia. China has purchased 24 Su-27SK and two Su 27-UBK from Russia beginning 1992. The first two aircraft flew in December 1998. It has been estimated that the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has a requirement of 200 such aircraft, which might stretch the existing schedule till 2015. There have been a steady stream of reports that suggest that the Chinese might have modified some of the aircraft for a nuclear role, but the reports remain unconfirmed.30

The information on Chinese non-strategic nuclear weapons is both contradictory and non-confirmatory. To date, China has never officially acknowledged the possession of tactical nuclear weapons, though it is estimated that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is geared up to use the same.


For 40 years, the USSR had a vast array of nuclear weapons which the world had become used to. Around 1988, the Soviet nuclear arsenal seems to have peaked to a phenomenal 33,000 warheads.31 However, the end of the Cold War, along with the disintegration of the Soviet Union saw Russia inheriting one of the largest stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and along with it came a classical nuclear triad. Since 1991, the existence of the vast strategic nuclear arsenal has arguably been more of a pain for Russia than a panacea, distracting attention of this nascent democracy from its worsening economy, living conditions and conditions of its military forces, and raising questions about the future of the Russian nuclear arsenal.32

Before trying to discern a particular trend in its strategic nuclear triad, indeed its ultimate fate in this particular case, a consideration of its composition is essential.

In Russia, the strategic triad consists of the classical components of the inter- continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the sea leg comprising SSBNs armed with SLBMs, and the air force leg comprising strategic bombers.

In Russia the military component that controls the premier ICBM force is the Strategic Rocket Forces33 (SRF), historically considered to be an elite force. The second leg of the triad consists of SSBNs, which are the most survivable leg and, finally, the strategic bombers, which are historically the least significant and most discussed leg of the triad.34

Table 4. Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces as on January 200035

Type No. deployed Year Range Warheads x Warheads in

(NATO deployed (km) yield stockpile


Strategic Offensive Force


Tu-95MS6 29 1984 12,800 6X AS15A 174

(Bear H6) ALCMs; bombs

Tu-95MS16 34 1984 12,800 6X AS15A 544

(Bear H16) ALCMs; bombs

Tu-160 6 1987 11,000 12 X AS15B ALCMs 72

(Blackjack) or AS-16 SRAMS;


Total 69 790

ICBMs 180 1975 11,000 10 x 550/ 750 kt 1,800

SS-18 (Satan)

SS-19 (Stiletto) 150 1980 10,000 6 x 750 kt 900

SS-24M1/M2 36/10 1987 10,000 10 x 550 kt 460


SS-25 (Sickle) 360 1985 10,500 1 x 550 kt 360

SS-27 20 1997 10,500 1 x 550 kt 20

(Topol- M)

Total 3,540


SS-N-18-M1 176 1978 6,500 3 x 500 kt 528

(Stingray) (MIRV)

SS-N-20 60 1983 8,300 10 X 200 kt 600

(Sturgeon) (MIRV)

SS-N-23 112 1986 9,000 4 x 100 kt 448

(Skiff) (MIRV)

Total Strategic 348 ~6,000



This leg, somehow, has come to epitomise the Russian nuclear weapons capability. Since the past 50 years, Russia has depended very heavily on this leg of the triad which is controlled by the SRF or Raketnye voiska strategic heskogo naznacheniya (RVSN) which remains the main element of Russian strategic forces, being responsible for 90 per cent of the strategic missions with about 60 per cent of the missiles and warheads. Serious efforts are on to try and cut the size and power of the RSVN within the Russian government, due to severe budgetary constraints.36

Sixty per cent of Russia's ICBMs are beyond their warranted life. Most of the liquid fuelled missiles of the fourth and fifth generation have a warranted life of 7-10 years in operation after which they must be sent for remanufacture. In the past, missiles have been rebuilt several times extending their life to 25 years. The problem is that 226 of the missiles—Voevoda (SS-18) and Molodets (SS-24)—cannot be sent back as they were built in Ukraine. Substitution by reserve missiles is hardly the solution due to their finite source. The older SS19, built at Khrunichev near Moscow, are being rebuilt to extend their life till 2010. To further complicate matters, the main manufacturer of inertial guidance systems, Khartron, is Ukraine based. When missiles are left on active alert with their guidance systems operating, the life of the system is reduced to about three years. The SRF, thus, has the difficult choice of either removing a significant number of ready alert missiles, or allowing them to become non-functional due to worn out guidance systems.37 Due to these trends the SS18 will have to be retired by 2007 and the missile force size will reduce to 1,740 from current figures. This is planned under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) II, at any event.

The plans to modernise, rather than replace the entire inventory with SS-27, has run into rough weather. Due to funding problems, the brand new, highly accurate Topol M (SS-27) is unlikely to continue at present production rates of 10 per year since to date only two regiments (20 launchers) of the missile have been deployed. Tests of the road version of this missile scheduled to begin in July 2000, have been put off indefinitely due to lack of funding.38


Nearly two-thirds of the SSBN fleet has been withdrawn from service. Table 4 assumes that all the Yankee Is, Delta Is, Delta IIs, three Delta IIIs and three Typhoon class have been withdrawn from operational service, thus, leaving the Russian SSBN force to consist of 11 Delta IIIs, 7 Delta IVs, and 3 Typhoon submarines deployed in the Northern and Pacific Fleets. In attempting to determine the number of SSBNs in the current inventory, the problem is less of large numbers than of reaching agreement on what actually constitutes an active submarine. For example, will a submarine that cannot go to sea, but still fire her SLBMs, be counted as a bonafide SSBN?39 Or what about a submarine that can go to sea, but has had her entire missile systems removed?

If the funding situation for the RSVN has been poor, it has been catastrophic for the navy. Consequently, missile submarine patrols have hit an all time low of approximately two compared to 20-22 during the Cold War. Of the 62 strategic missile submarines in operation in 1990, only 20-23 were operational in 2000.

The state of the Typhoon class (Project 941 Akula class) is considered precarious by some. At least three are non-functional and plans to rehabilitate the balance have been delayed. To add to the problems, the life of the SS-N-20 missiles on board will expire in 2003. Analysts predict that this class may disappear due to lack of funding during the next few years.40

The missile situation for these submarines is no better. The plant that manufactured the SS-N-23 was closed down in 1996 due to lack of orders.

The effects of lack of funding have also directly affected the surface navy. This is due to the fact that unlike the SRF, the SSBNs are still a part of the surface fleet and they compete with them for funding. Thus, the reported direction of President Yeltsin for the SSBN leg of the triad to carry 50 per cent nuclear warheads against the present 30 per cent will result in further cuts for the surface fleet, which in the words of Admiral Igor Kasatonov is in real danger of becoming a littoral rather than a blue water force.41

Just as with the SRF, modernisation is the key to the survival of the SSBNs. The major effort being that of launching of the new "Borey" class submarine and development of the new SS-NX-28.42

Strategic Bomber Force

This smallest leg of the triad was always regarded as the "red headed step-child" of the nuclear triad by Russians and non-Russians alike, the one leg that could not support its own weight. However, indications are that efforts are under way to not only maintain the strategic aviation, but also carry it into the next century.43

In the Russian context, this leg consists of the Tu-95 (Bear) and the more modern powerful supersonic Tu-160 (Blackjack) bombers. Both these carry the AS-15 long range air launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) as their primary armament. In 1995, the production of the Tu- 95 was stopped and there are no plans of resuming the same.

The 36th Air Army, the force that controls the bomber force has approximately 70 bombers of which 63 are the Tu-95 MS. The force has received a boost with the recovery of eight Tu-160 and three Tu-95MS bombers along with 564 ALCMs from Ukraine. Along with this, funding has been received for finishing three, nearly completed Tu-160s at the Kazan plant which would enable the total force of Tu-160s to come up to 16 by 2001/2002.44

At least two strategic cruise missile programmes are currently under way; the stealth Kh-101 and Kh-SD, which is the upgraded version of the AS-15. The air force has been pushing for revival of the old hypersonic cruise missile, but it is doubtful if the programme will be revived. Instead, the air force may see some revival of its role in strategic force planning, if only since the bombers can be deployed in secondary non-nuclear missions in regional conflicts along Russia's southern border.45 Thus, the strategic aviation leg of the triad continues to limp along with an equal mixture of obsolescence, on the one hand, and modernisations, on the other.

United States of America

The main mission of the US strategic nuclear forces is to deter an attack on the US and/or its vital interests and to convince its adversaries of the futility of seeking a nuclear advantage. In this context, the US has built up a vast and elaborate nuclear arsenal and a classical triad over the years.

However, due to various non-proliferation treaties from time to time, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, the end of the Cold War following which came the 1994 Nuclear Posture Review, there has been a dramatic reduction in US nuclear stockpiles and delivery platforms. From a Cold War high of 32,000 weapons in 1966, the US now has approximately less than 15,000 nuclear weapons of all types ranging from deployed, stored, long, short range, high, low yield weapons.46

The greatest impetus for the reduction, primarily a post-Cold War phenomenon, has come from the START I which was signed between the US and the former Soviet Union47 in July 1991 and the START II (between the US and Russia) which was signed in January 1993 and finally ratified by the Duma on April 14, 2000. The START II, if implemented48 by 2003, will see US strategic nuclear weapons reduced to:

(a) 450 to 500 Minuteman III missiles each with a single warhead.

(b) 14 Ohio class (Trident) submarines each capable of carrying 24 Trident II SLBMs.

(c) 66 B-52H bombers equipped to carry a total load of about 950 AGM-86B ALCMs and AGM-129s ACMs.

(d) 20 B-2 bombers with 16 gravity bombs each.

The renewed threat perception during the post-Cold War years led to the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) in September 1994 which essentially agreed with the numbers established by the START II Treaty. The only change being that of the submarine force under START II wherein 14 submarines were to be retained, all armed with D-5 missiles rather than the 18 submarines with a mixture of C-4/ D-5 as originally planned.

Table 5. US Strategic Nuclear Forces as on May 200049

Type No. Year Range Warheads x Warheads in

(Designation) deployed deployed (km) yield stockpile

Strategic Forces

B-52H 76/56 1961 16,000 ALCMs/W80 400

(Stratofortress) 1x 5-150 kt

ACM /W80 400

1 x 5-150 kt

B-2A 21/16 1994 11,000 Various bombs like B-83, 950

(Spirit) B61-7, earth penetrating


Total 92/72 1,750



(Minuteman III)

Mk-12 200 1970 13,000 3 W62 x 170kt 600

Mk-12A 300 1979 13,000 3 W78 x 335kt 900

LGM-118A 50 1986 11,000 10 W87 x 300kt 500


Total 2,000

SLBMs 192 1979 7,400 8 W76 x 100kt 1,536


(Trident I



(Trident II


Mk-4 192 1992 7,400 8 W76 x 100kt 1,536

Mk-5 48 1990 7,400 8 W88 x 475kt 384

Total 3,456

Total Strategic 7,206

Taking a look at the various triad legs briefly:

Long Range Bombers

Bombers have undergone considerable changes since their alert status in the early 1960s when about half of the 1,500 bombers and several hundred refuelling tankers, dispersed amongst several bases, used to be on constant ground alert, ready for immediate take off. Today, only about 92 bombers make this leg of the triad. The aircraft are now stored in a handful of bases with their nuclear weapons stored away so as to involve an additional time factor prior to their loading and deployment.50 At present, this leg consists of 92 long-range bombers consisting of B-2A, and the B-52H, with the B-1B converted to conventional role and removed from the strategic war plans.

The NPR had recommended retaining 66 B-52Hs, but the air force decided to reduce to only 76 by 2001.

The B-2s at $2 billion each are the most expensive airplanes ever built. Configured to carry both nuclear and conventional bombs, they can carry 16 bombs internally. It is intended to upgrade older version aircrafts (Blocks 10 and 20) into the latest Block 30 variety by 2000/2001.51

It is noteworthy that the US has several dozen fighter bomber aircraft assigned to nuclear weapon missions, equipped with 650 B61 bombs of various types. The F-117A and the F-16 A/B/C/D, the aircraft equipped to carry out such missions, however, are not included in the strategic triad leg of the US.


Like the changes that have occurred in the other legs of the triad, this leg too has undergone changes: 450 Minuteman II missiles have been removed and their silos are being destroyed. To comply with the ban on MIRVs by START II, the number of warheads on each Minuteman is being reduced from three to one. Eventually all the Minuteman missiles will carry only one warhead. Amidst all the elimination of missiles, their warheads and the silos (to comply with the START Treaties), a three-part programme to upgrade the Minuteman continues. First, the missile alert facilities have been updated with rapid execution and combat targetting (REACT) consoles. Second, the life of the guidance system has been improved to beyond 2020 and the accuracy improved to circular error probable (CEP) of 100 mts. The third involves incorporating the solid fuel propellant and latest bonding technology.52


In the US, this stealth leg of the strategic triad consists of 18 Trident submarines (Ohio class), of which eight carry the Trident I, and 10 the Trident II. Each submarine is capable of launching 24 missiles each with eight warheads. The Trident I boats carry the less accurate C-4 missiles, while the Trident II carries the D-5. Four of the older Trident I will be retired under START II and the other four will be converted to launch the D-5.53 To comply with START II, the navy will have to download missiles, retire more submarines or do both. Under the new timetable, by the end of 2004, SLBMs can carry no more than 2,160 warheads, and by 2007, no more than 1,750. If there were a START III, then the navy's portion would account for approximately half. This would mean a fleet of 10-12, (10 submarines would require 347 missiles) which would call for drastic reduction again.

Although START counts eight warheads per Trident missile the actual loading is often much less. Some missiles may carry fewer warheads that increase the range. The Single Integrated Operation Plan (SIOP), the US nuclear war plan, determines how much to load, where and when.


The Shakti nuclear tests of May 1998 converted India from a grey nuclear weapon state to an open one. Subsequent pronouncements like the widely publicised draft nuclear doctrine produced by the quasi-official NSAB called for a "credible minimum deterrence" based on "a triad of aircraft, mobile based missiles and sea based assets".54 While India seems to have acquired the aircraft and the missile legs of the triad, she is yet to possess an appropriate sea based deterrence.

Before attempting to delve into the composition of the Indian triad (presently in diad form), it is noteworthy, that the meaning of the strategic nuclear triad as associated with that of the P-5, cannot be strictly followed in the cases of nascent NWS like India, Pakistan and Israel. (Israel, of course, denies having any nuclear weapon whatsoever). The main reason for this may be that their delivery platforms are mostly of tactical or sub-strategic capability, thus, in these cases it is prudent to analyse their nuclear triad in its present manifestation itself.

Table 6. Indian Nuclear Forces55

Type (Designation) Range (km) Payload (kg) Remarks


Mig 27Flogger 800 3,000


Mirage 2000H 1,480 6,300

Jaguar IS/IB (Shamsher) 1,600 4,775

Su 30 MKI 3,000 Deal signed December 2000 for purchase/manufacture of 140 aircraft


Prithvi I 150 1,000 In service with army

Prithvi II 250 500 For IAF in 2001

Agni I 1,500 1,000 Tested but status unclear

Agni II 2,000 1,000 Second flight test on January 17, 2001


India has several types of aircraft that can be used as delivery platforms for nuclear weapons although the range, payload and speed narrow down the choice to the ones mentioned above. Exactly how many of these aircraft are actually nuclear capable has neither been declared nor is it known.

Out of these, the Su 30MKI version has yet to arrive in India, with a deal for it having been signed with Russia in December 2000, for purchase followed by serial production/ manufacture of the aircraft at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL)56


India has an extensive missile development programme called the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) which started in 1983 and till date has produced the liquid fuelled Prithvi I (range 150 km) operational with the army, Prithvi II (range 250 km) to be deployed by the air force in 2001, and a longer range naval version Prithvi III (Dhanush) still under development.57 Though the presently deployed Prithvis are not considered to be deployed on a nuclear role at this time, the missiles are nuclear capable and can be so equipped at short notice. Hence, they have been included in Table 6.

The solid fuelled two stage nuclear capable Agni II IRBM was tested the second time in "operational configuration" on January 17, 2001. It has been stated that this missile had reached the point of operationalisation after the first test on April 11, 1999, but is unlikely to have been deployed so soon.58

Development of the nuclear capable under sea launched missile "Sagarika" is also a possible future addition to the list of Indian SSMs.59


It is very difficult to estimate the size and composition of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal. One of the reasons for this may be the uncertainty involved in the amount of weapon grade uranium that has been produced since there is some uncertainty involved in the number of centrifuges that are available. Estimates range from a conservative 15-20 weapons to a recently formed opinion of 60-70 weapons.

Table 7. Pakistani Nuclear Forces60

Type (Designation) Range (km) Payload (kg) Remarks


F 16 A/B 1,600 5,450 At Sargodha Air Base


Ghauri I (Hatf-5) 1,300-1,500 500-750 Basically Nodong missiles of Ghauri II (Hatf-6) 2,000-2,300 750-1,000 North Korean origin

Ghauri III 3,000 ? ? tested on August 15, 2000


The F-16 is the most likely to be used for nuclear delivery missions although the Mirage V or the Chinese A-5 could also be used. Reports suggest that the F-16s have practised the "toss bombing" technique used to deliver nuclear weapons.

The state of the operational condition of the aircrafts is suspect due to the fact that no spares or additional aircraft have been made available from the US because of the Pressler Amendment. The exact number of modified F-16s is also unknown.61


Missiles form the most important part of the diad in Pakistan's scheme of nuclear delivery platforms. Thus, Pakistan has an extensive missile programme with most of the missiles being of North Korean (for liquid fuelled missiles) or Chinese (for solid fuelled missiles) origin. Out of all the profusion of missiles, it is considered that only the Ghauri (I & II) are at present probably deployed and are nuclear capable as stated by Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani bomb designer, though the solid fuelled Shaheen I (based on the Chinese M-9, with a range of 600km) and the Shaheen II (with a stated range of 2,500km) yet in the testing stage, are also considered nuclear capable. 62


Israel has been a nuclear power since 1966 when its first bombs were manufactured. Although small in size like its population, Israel is expected to have upto 200 warheads consisting of aircraft bombs, missile warheads, and non-strategic/ battlefield types and indeed a complete triad, according to some reports.

Table 8. Israeli Nuclear Forces63

Type (Designation) Year deployed Range (km) Remarks


F-16 A/B/C/D/I 1980 1,600 260 ordered or received, 50 more

(Fighting Falcon) on order

F-151(Thunder) 1998 3,500 25 delivered from January 1998 to May1999

Land Based Missiles

Jericho I 1972 1,200 Possibly 50 at Zekhareyh

Jericho II 1984-85 1,800 Possibly 50 at Zekhareyh on TELs in caves


Dolphin 2000 Possible future platform for SLCMs


Over the past 30 years, the Israelis have had different aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons. These have included the F-4, A-4, and more recently, the F-16 and the F-5E. However, the number of aircraft that have been configured for nuclear weapons delivery is unknown.


The Israelis have developed the Jericho II missile which is similar to the US Pershing II. The missile has been tested three times till date with a range reaching 1,300 km, but it is assumed that the range has been increased to 1,800 km. It is also estimated that there are 50 such missiles of both Jericho I & II in storage.


It is estimated that the Israel Defence Forces (IDF)/Navy may plan to equip its Dolphin submarines with a nuclear attack capability by modifying the US supplied Sub-Harpoon anti-ship missiles with a range of 130 km with an indigenously developed warhead and guidance. Other reports suggest that they have already tested a cruise missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead with a maximum designed 1,200 mile range off the coast of Sri Lanka and the sea leg of the triad is ready for deployment.64

Emerging Trends: A Brief Analysis

After analysis of the data above regarding the legs of the strategic nuclear triad of the nuclear weapon capable states, it is possible to delineate various trends and patterns. Trends that are not only pertinent to the triad legs per se, but also to nuclear weapons in general.

In general terms, there exists awareness amongst all nuclear weapon capable states that vast arsenals of nuclear weapons and their associated delivery platforms do not, beyond a certain point, add to the deterrence value of nuclear weapons. A dramatic change in the threat perception induced by the post-Cold War scenario has led to this awareness. This, in turn, has also fuelled a realisation, especially amongst the relatively wealthier nations (with the less wealthy like France, being already aware) that vast nuclear arsenals cost a lot of the taxpayers' money. They are cumbersome to maintain (both in terms of material and in terms of alert status) and require continuous upgrades.

These reasons have led to three important byproducts, namely, a reduction in the alert status of nuclear weapons and delivery platforms,65 an increased impetus to non-proliferation treaties and downsizing military/nuclear reviews and, hence, a related adoption of a limited nuclear deterrence tending towards a minimalist posture by most countries.

To take the example of the US: having reduced the alert status of most of its presently deployed nuclear weapons, by 2003 the number of nuclear warheads, both strategic and tactical, is projected to drop 71 per cent below the 1988 level of 23,000.

In 1997, the US was disassembling 1,500 nukes annually, all due to unilateral initiatives, prompted by the NPR and the 1997 Quadrennial Defence Review (QDR) which took an overall view of the military and the START Treaty.66 Thus, the US has definitely downsized and de-alerted a part of its vast nuclear arsenal and is continuing to do so. However, it may not be correct to say that it has adopted a limited deterrence posture. In any case, it is the only country which can still afford to maintain a relatively vast arsenal.

Russia, on the other hand, is in a fairly precarious position and is forced to downsize due to its economic condition. The START Treaty has helped in providing the cover for a more realistic approach over a time period. Connected to this is Putin's offer of reducing strategic nuclear warheads to a number of 1,500 (START III) which is a more realistic figure that the Russians can maintain, but they are yet to sign on the said treaty.

France and Britain, on the other hand, have reduced their nuclear triad to that of a diad and a very limited single leg respectively. Thus, reinforcing the approach of France towards limited deterrence bordering on minimalism to that of Britain, which is minimalist in nature.

China too has always sought a limited and credible arsenal of nuclear weapons.67

In the case of India, the minimalist posture has been enshrined in its draft nuclear doctrine, which talks of a "credible minimum deterrence".

In specific terms of the triad legs, the stealth, second strike and survivability factor of the sea based deterrence makes it not only the most favoured triad leg of the future, but a dominant leg even today. This being the most distinguishable trend in a nuclear triad of the present day.

In the case of Britain, the radical yet practical stance of placing an overwhelming reliance on the sea-based deterrence in the form of the Trident submarines has been reiterated by the 1998 SDR. The Review states, "Britain continues to require a credible and effective minimum nuclear deterrence based on the Trident submarine force".

France, with four-fifths of the diad resting on sea based deterrence, is heavily dependent on this leg. Even the minority air force leg is dependent to an extent on the carrier-based aircraft.

In the case of China, the longing for a credible sea based deterrence has manifested itself in various programmes for building both the Type 094 (SSBN) and the Julang II (SLBM) despite numerous reverses. China's determination to make this leg of the triad dominant enough to be the "chief objective of the century" can be summarised in the words of Admiral Liu Huaqing (who is considered to be the Chinese version of Admiral A.T. Mahan and Admiral Gorshkov) who said, "Fewer than 10 per cent of China's land based missiles would survive a large scale nuclear first strike; the less vulnerable SLBMs would preserve our nuclear counter-attack capabilities".

Visualising the possible nuclear triad of Russia in the year 2010, David A. Foy writes, "Turning to the future submarine force, the combination of treaty obligations and the announced wishes of Yeltsin and the Russian Security Council means that the bulk of the Russian strategic triad will be underwater rather than underground. However, as has been noted, this change will occur not through augmentation of the submarine force, but rather through more gradual reductions than those faced by the other two legs of the triad."68

Thus, the present predominance and the futuristic value of the sea leg of the triad is evident.

In addition to the above mentioned trends, another aspect which comes to the fore is that while necessary reductions in nuclear weapons and delivery platforms are continuing, at the same time, the striving for higher technological regimes also continues. This essentially means that while the nuclear weapons are being eliminated on, the one hand, the remaining weapons and platforms are being upgraded/newer weapons invented that are more accurate, more miniaturised and with a longer range with a bigger payload. In this sense, China's quest for sea based deterrence, and India's quest for a nuclear submarine become more relevant since, as is well known, the technological requirement of sea based deterrence is much higher than that of the other legs of the triad.

Lastly, the concept of "strategic nuclear triad" is losing its strategic hue only to acquire a slight tactical colouration due to the fact that countries like India, Pakistan and Israel do not possess delivery platforms of strategic nature and, hence, their triad has only sub-strategic or tactical undertones. Though in the same breath it can also be argued that the sub-strategic or tactical weapons of these countries can also be regarded as "strategic" in so far as their capability of striking adversarial territory is concerned. This being the argument traditionally forwarded by the Soviet Union when it used to designate US forward based systems in relatively nearby Europe.


It may be concluded that the nuclear delivery platforms have come a long way since the World War II era. The aim and purpose of strategic forces and delivery platforms has shifted from actual warfighting to being interlinked to the theory of deterrence. Unfortunately, the delivery platforms in the nuclear weapon capable states have not always evolved as a consequence of their nuclear doctrines, but due to circumstances like the dynamics of the technological regimes, the economic factor, the political will, extraneous circumstances and finally, inter-Service rivalry. Hence, at times, they have been incongruent with the prevailing doctrine.

Different delivery platforms have different survival capabilities and their viability factor within a nuclear triad differs. Given the present levels of technological regimes the sea based nuclear deterrence is most invulnerable and, hence, useful as a retaliatory/second strike weapon.

Analysing the vast data of different weapon capable states, it emerges that they have realised the attendant problems of nuclear arsenals and that large numbers do not necessarily signify enhanced deterrence beyond a point. Along with this, the post-Cold War reduced threat perception has led to a reduction in the alert status of nuclear weapons/delivery platforms, an increased impetus to non-proliferation treaties and downsizing military/nuclear reviews. Hence, this has led to a related adoption of a limited nuclear deterrence tending on to a minimalist posture (deployment of NMD and TMD systems by the US may see this trend altering) while simultaneously seeking higher technological regimes for upgradation and development of superior weapons.

Most importantly, the analysis reveals that there exists a trend to place overwhelming dependence on the survivable, second strike capable, sea based deterrence leg of the triad. In some countries, this will soon become the dominant leg in the near future. Thus, confirming that this is the leg of the future.


1. Jack Ruina, "The Triad and US Strategic Policy," in The Future of Sea Based Deterrence (Massachusetts: MIT Press Semline, Inc. 1973) p. 14.

2. Kathleen C Baily and Franklin D Barish, "Deterrence Policy and the Triad ," at Internet website <http.//www.nuclearsecurity.com> p.1.

3. The last factor is only partially true since knock-down kits of nuclear delivery platforms are available to host countries which need not completely imbibe the associated technology. The recent example being that of Pakistan which has received North Korean and Chinese missiles, subsequently labelled with Pakistani names. Their own scientists developed these missiles, according to the Pakistanis.

4. Tara Kartha, "French Strategic Doctrine," Delhi Papers, August 1998, p.20.

5. The Pakistani tit for tat nuclear tests of May 1998 were also carried out against intense international pressure, but with overwhelming local support.

6. Robert S. Norris and William M. Arkin in "Tables for Nuclear Forces", SIPRI Year Book 2000, p. 494.

7. Ruina, n. 1, pp. 13-14.

8. Baily and Barish, n. 2, p.1.

9. Cited in M.S. Mamik, "Effectiveness of Sea Based Nuclear Weapons", synopsis of thesis submitted to Madras University, 1995, p.6.

10. Ruina, n.1, p.21.

11. Malcom Rifkind, UK defence minister, in his address before the Centre for Defence Studies London, on November 16, 1993; also see "Nuclear Weapons Database: United Kingdom Arsenal" available at internet site <http.//www.cdi.org/issues/nuke/database/uknukes.htm>

12. Official Report, n. 109, column 34.

13. Ibid.

14. In 1991, the RAF announced that they will be cutting the WE-177 stockpile by half. On April 4, 1995, they announced that the balance stockpile will be eliminated by 1998, which was done.

15. 'French and British Nuclear Forces' NRDC Nuclear Notebook, vol. 56, no. 5, September/October 2000, pp.70-71. Also see Chapter IV of Strategic Defence Review, document available at Internet site <http.//www.fas.org/nuke/guide/uk>

16. Norris and Arkin, n.6, p.486.

17. Strategic Defence Review, Chapter IV, n.15.

18. Colin McInnes, Trident: the Only Option? (London: Brasseys Defence Publishers, 1986) xi

19. NRDC Nuclear Notebook, n.15.

20. Camille Grand, "A French Nuclear Exception", Henry L Stimson Centre Occasional Paper, no.38, January1998.

21. On February 22-23, 1996, President Chirac announced several reforms for the armed forces to be undertaken between 1997- 2002. His pronouncements in the nuclear arena were mainly aimed at withdrawal of obsolete systems and committed modernisation of those that remained i.e. the aircraft launched systems and the sea based systems. Also see NRDC Nuclear Notebook, n.15.

22. Norris and Arkin, n.6, p.487

23. See internet site <http.//www.fas.org/nuke/guide/france>

24. NRDC Nuclear Notebook, n.15, and see Pascal Boniface "The Future of French Nuclear Weapons", Jane's Fighting Ships 2000-2001 (Surrey: Jane's Information Group, 2000) p. 214.

25. See Internet site <http.//www.fas.org/nuke/guide/china>

26. Also see "China's Nuclear Stockpile and Deployments," at Centre for Non-Proliferation Studies internet website at EANP project page <htrp.//cns.mns.edu/cns/projects/eanp.htm>; Duncan Lennox, " A Consistent Policy," Jane's Defence Weekly, August 11, 1999, p.22.; "China Tested Invincible Ballistic Missile", The Hindu, August 11, 1999. The Chinese define missile ranges as follows; short range<1,000km; medium range 1,000-3,000 km; long range3,000-8,000 km; intercontinental >8,000 km

27. Zhang Yihong, "China Deploys Dong Feng 31 Towards its Southern Borders," Jane's Defence Weekly, November 3, 1999, p.3.

28. Lennox, n.26, p.23.

29. Paul Beaver, "China Flexes Muscles in Missile Exercises", Jane's Defence Weekly , August 4, 1999, p.5.

30. Norris and Arkin, n.6, pp.489-490.

31. Robert S. Norris and William M. Arkin, "Nuclear Note Book," The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, July/August, 1989, p. 56.

32. David A. Foy, "Standing on One Leg: The Future of the Russian Nuclear Triad", A research report submitted to Air Command and Staff College, Air University, Alabama (April1999) p 1.

33. Robert S. Norris and William M Arkin , "Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces, End of 1997", The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists,54, no.2, March/April 1998:70

34. Ibid.

35. Norris and Arkin, n.6, p.483.

36. Mark Galeotti ,"Putin to Cut Russia's Regular Armed Forces by Almost a Third', Jane's Intelligence Review, October 2000, p.4.

37. Steve Zaloga "Russia's Strategic Forces Stumble", Jane's Intelligence Review, October 2000, p.12.

38. Ibid., p13.

39. Foy, n.32, p.7.

40. Zaloga, n.37, p.13.

41. Mark Galeotti, "Government Endorses Strategic Nuclear Triad but…" in "Russian Naval Priorities Outlined by Kasatonov," Jane's Intelligence Review 9, no.3, March 1997, p.2.

42. According to Zaloga, n. 37, the programme of the Borey class has been halted due to cancellation of the troubled SS-NX-28 programme.

43. Foy, n.32, p.10.

44. Zaloga, n.37, p.13.

45. Ibid.

46. Kathryn R. Schultz, "US Nuclear Posture and Doctrine Since End of the Cold War," available at Internet website <http.//www.cdi.org/>

47. This resulted in three former Soviet republics i.e. Belarus, Khazakstan and Ukraine joining the NPT and removing nuclear weapons from their territory.

48. Doubts seem to have been raised about whether the START II will really move forward and fulfil its objectives due to various "linkages" associated with the deployment of the TMD and the threatened abrogation of the 1972 ABM Treaty by Russia. For a detailed view, see Kalpana Chittaranjan; "START II Moves: Does it Really?" Strategic Analysis, vol. XXIV, no. 8, November 2000.

49. Robert S. Norris and William M. Arkin, "Nuclear Note Book ,US Nuclear Forces 2000", The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, vol 56, no.3, May/June 2000, and also Norris and Arkin, n.6, p.479. (In the table the first figure in the No. Deployed column indicates the total number of aircraft in the inventory, while the second figure indicates the number of operational aircraft available for nuclear and conventional missions.) The non-strategic weapons have been deliberately omitted since they do not form part of the strategic triad. Even though substantial numbers of nuclear armed Tomahawk SLCMs (around 325 are deployed) and B61-3,-4,-10 bombs exist in the inventory.

50. Baily and Barish, n.2, p.1.

51. Norris and Arkin, n.49.

52. Ibid.

53. Baily and Barish, n.2, p.3.

54. "Indian Nuclear Doctrine" a draft paper proposed by the NSAB (released by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India on August 17, 1999).

55. Norris and Arkin, n.6, p.491, and A.K. Sachdev, Space Age Gladiators (New Delhi: Knowledge World, December 2000), p. 62 and "The Sukhoi Deal and After", The Hindu, December 30, 2000. Also see Andrew Koch, "Nuclear Friction", Jane's Defence Weekly, December 13, 2000, p. 22.

56. "The Sukhoi Deal and After", The Hindu, December 30, 2000.

57. Sachdev, n.55, p.53.

58. "Agni II Successfully Test Fired", The Hindustan Times, January 18, 2001 and "India's Second Successful Test of Agni II Missile," Jane's Defence Weekly, vol. 35, January 2001, p.4.

59. Sachdev, n.55, p.54.

60. Norris and Arkin, n.6, p.493.

61. Ibid. Also see Internet site <http.//www.fas.org/nuke/guide/pakistan> for "Pakistan Aircraft- Potential Special Weapons Delivery Systems".

62. Ibid., n.6, p.493; also see Koch, n.55, pp. 22-23.

63. Ibid., pp.494-495.

64. Eric Margolia, "Israel's Covert Nuclear Program," news article dated July 4, 2000 available at internet site<http.//www.msanews.mynet.net>and Ibid, p.495.

65. Except in the case of war patrols by US nuclear submarines which continue at near Cold War levels. Russia also maintains such war patrols, but at a reduced level due to the poor maintenance level of its SSBNs/ SSNs.

66. Bart Brasher, Implosion; Downsizing the US Military (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2000) p. 199.

67. Alastair Iain Johnston, "Prospects for Chinese Nuclear Force Modernization: Limited Deterrence Versus Multilateral Arms Control", Johnston The China Quarterly, no. 145, March 1996, pp.554–555.

68. Foy, n.32, p.33.