Indian nuclear weapons are placed under the authority of the Strategic Forces Command. India’s primary delivery systems are land-based missiles. The Prithvi I and II liquid-fueled missiles have ranges from 150 to 350 kilometers and need half a day to prepare for launch. The Agni I, II, III and IV solid-fuel missiles are medium to intermediate range ballistic missiles with a range of 700 to 4,000 kilometers.
India is also on the verge of fielding its first ballistic missile submarine, the Arihant. Based on the Akula-I attack submarine design, Arihant has been modified to carry 12 K-15 short-range missiles or 4 K-4 intermediate-range nuclear missiles. Arihant is significant in that it will be able to patrol far beyond the range of Pakistani anti-submarine warfare capabilities. This will essentially make India’s retaliatory capability untouchable by Pakistan and thus a more credible deterrent.
India has a “no first use” policy regarding its nuclear weapons, reserving them solely for retaliation in the event of nuclear attack. Indian also adheres to a “minimum self defense” doctrine, in which the fewest nuclear weapons needed to maintain effective deterrence from attack are maintained.
Kyle Mizokami is a writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in The Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and The Daily Beast. In 2009 he co founded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami.