Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 December 2004
The basic objective of this paper is to assess India's acquisition of nuclear weapons in light of the general debate why states ‘go nuclear’ and build nuclear arsenals. In general, analysts proffer four arguments about proliferation of nuclear weapons. They are: (1) security concerns; (2) prestige; (3) technological imperatives; and (4) domestic politics. The first posits that security concerns directly related to a state's physical security and survival might drive a state to acquire nuclear weapons. A state, when operating in an environment of anarchy and acute security dilemmas, remains very concerned with national security and survival. Depending on the intensity of security dilemmas, states often resort to developing lethal military forces, including, in some instances, nuclear weapons. For example, the ‘first generation’ nuclear powers (the USA, the USSR, the UK, France and China) and the ‘second generation’ nuclear states (India, Pakistan etc.) acquired nuclear weapons because they each faced an acute security threat from a strategic adversary.