Given our No First Use nuclear doctrine, there is a certain minimum credible deterrent that India needs to hold. Minimum credible deterrent, which underpins India’s nuclear doctrine, was incidentally the title of the study carried out under Rajiv Gandhi’s direction in November 1985 by General Sundarji with APJ Abdul Kalam and Dr Chidambaram as its members.

India’s minimum credible deterrent has to come from a nuclear Triad which provides a potent second strike capability. Agni-V is the second credible leg of India’s strategic Triad, aircraft-based delivery being the first. It is the first Indian strategic missile capable of canister launch, allowing it to be launched from any part of the country. It is also configured to hold several Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) warheads. An MIRV comprises 3-10 nuclear warheads where each warhead can be assigned to a different target, separated by hundreds of kilometres.