On Sunday, India launched their first Indian-built nuclear-powered submarine, named Arihant.  It’s a 6000-ton vessel, capable of launching a range of missiles and currently armed with nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles. The Indian officials at the launch were particularly effuse in their thanks to Russia for providing technical support to the sub’s development. The Russian ambassador to India was present at the launch. The sub, in fact, is only 60% Indian materials; the rest, in particular the mini-reactors, was supplied by Russia.

Arihant means “Destroyer of Enemies” in Sanskrit, and India’s major potential enemy is not happy about the sub launch.  Pakistan stated that the sub threatens regional security – a spokesman for the Pakistan navy said that “the Indian move would have far-reaching destabilising effects on the security environment not only of Pakistan but also of all the littoral states of Indian Ocean and beyond.”

Pakistan’s concerns sound far-fetched to me. The Indian naval presence isn’t aimed at Pakistan or its brown-water navy; it’s aimed at China. I think Pakistan’s frustrated that their own military is tied up trying to suppress militants and maintain their borders, while India has breathing room to develop and launch new weapons. What I am really interested in is China’s response to the sub launch, both in terms of expanding Russian influence in India and India’s new ability to target China.  I’d also like to know what Hilary Clinton has to say.

Get occasional updates from UN Dispatch

* indicates required

Want Our Social Media List?