Speaker: Frank O'Donnell, Stanton Nuclear Security Junior Faculty Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom

Since 1998, India has navigated multiple shifts in its nuclear status. Over this period, New Delhi has moved from nuclear "opacity" — neither overtly weaponizing its nuclear capabilities, nor curtailing its ability to do so — to a nuclear test series, proclamation as an overt nuclear weapons state, and issuance of two nuclear doctrines. However, obtaining reliable information on India's nuclear decision-making remains a challenge for external analysts.This seminar will first discuss how the requirements of Indian deterrence, as perceived by New Delhi's strategic elite, have evolved since 1998. It will next detail the characteristics of two "minimalist-political" and "maximalist-operational" schools of thought within Indian nongovernmental strategic elite discourse, and how their comparative influence has changed over time. The seminar will reconstruct the policy options developed by this strategic elite as it faced each nuclear policy juncture and demonstrate how a numerically dominant option in each discourse provides a reliable proxy indicator for the subsequent official strategic decision. It will conclude with an exploration of how this approach can inform scholarly understanding of current and potential future Indian nuclear policies.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

For more information, email the International Security Program Assistant at susan_lynch@harvard.edu.