Conventional War in the Presence of Nuclear Weapons

Manpreet Sethi is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Air Power Studies, New Delhi.
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  • May 2009

    Nuclear weapons cannot obviate wars, but can change its complexion and influence the manner of its conduct. In order to keep nuclear weapons from entering into real warfare, it is important to intelligently judge an adversary's nuclear thresholds and to calibrate one's own conventional strikes. For India, the exploration of this space is particularly important in order to deny Pakistan a free hand to indulge in sub-conventional conflict even as it holds the threat of an all-out nuclear war against an Indian conventional response. This article examines the Indian experience in this regard on the basis of Kargil, 1999. It concludes that limited war - with precise, clearly articulated objectives, calibrated use of military force, and astute use of politico-diplomatic space - offers scope for conduct of conventional war in the presence of nuclear weapons