International Strategic and Security Studies Programme (ISSSP)

The ISSSP was set up at NIAS in 1996 with the broad objective of conducting academic and policy research on national and international security issues

Reports published by the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme

Click here to get more details of the studies published by ISSSP | NIAS | Bangalore

National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore

NIAS was conceived and founded in 1988 by the late Mr. J. R. D. Tata, who sought to create an institution to conduct advanced multidisciplinary research

Speakers and Participants at the NIAS-IPCS Young Scholars Workshop

Speakers and participants at the Fifth Annual Residential Workshop for Young Scholars on Global Nuclear Politics and Strategy held at NIAS, Bangalore from May 4-7, 2015

Ambassador Arundhati Ghose: In Memoriam

Members of the ISSSP, NIAS recall their memories of Ambassador Arundhati Ghose as a mark of their last respects


The International Strategic & Security Studies Programme, was started at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore in 1996 with the broad objective of conducting academic and policy research related to national and international security issues. The emphasis of research is towards integrating complex elements of science and technology with policy, organizational and institutional arrangements. Rapidly changing geo-political and technology adaptation scenarios affect the national and international strategic conditions and the research carried out in the Programme reflects this. Current and emerging scenarios relating to nuclear, missiles and space weapons are reflective of such an impact and have formed the core area of research.

 Recent Publications: Reports

Building Bridges: Potential and Policy Recommendations for Enhancing India-Myanmar Ties

Myanmar has an important neighbour in the eastern periphery serves the country’s security and economic interests. It provides access to the various countries of continental Southeast Asia besides, a country of great importance that has a key role in the development of India’s North East region. Keeping this reality as focus, the present report looks at the post-2015 Myanmar and the prospects of improving India’s bilateral ties with Myanmar. In particular, this report focuses on Myanmar’s perception of India, the development requirements of a fast changing Myanmar and finally what India can offer to them. This report outlines the rationale for fostering robust ties with Myanmar and choosing a particular policy course of action in the current geopolitical scenario. 

Does India Need A National Strategy for Rare Earths?

India Rare Earth StrategyAt the global level the Rare Earth (RE) industry is in the mature phase. Growth of existing products that use RE will be mainly in large emerging economies like India and China. Through a policy of active intervention China has built up an extremely strong position in the global RE industry. India has no major presence except maybe in the raw material part of the global RE industry. Even here Indian capabilities have withered away due to China’s dominance of the industry and Indian inaction. In a few areas like permanent magnets, Indian organisations in the military/strategic sector have established some limited capabilities. Though the global RE industry presents a fairly bleak picture as far as India is concerned, it does present India with an opportunity to take stock and come up with a strategy to deal with the RE and other similar problems that India may face in the future.

Dominating the World: China and the Rare Earth Industry

China Rare Earth StrategyThe available evidence suggests that China’s current domination of the global Rare Earths (RE) Industrial Ecosystem is the result of a well-thought out carefully crafted dynamic long term strategy. China has cleverly used the dynamics of the transition of the RE industry from the growth into the maturity phase of the lifecycle to build a dominant presence in most value chains of the RE ecosystem. China controls not only the raw materials but also the production of key intermediates that go into many hi-tech growth industries. The use of RE in critical green products like hybrid cars, wind mills, lighting, fuel cells and many other advanced consumer and industrial products suggests that the industry may grow considerably. China is well positioned to use its dominant position in RE as a part of its larger global strategic aims.

Pakistan’s HATF-IX / NASR : Implications for Indo-Pak Deterrence

Nasr Hatf IX Pakistan Tactical Battlefield Nuclear Weapon Arun Vishwanathan NagappaPakistan has carried out three tests of the NASR/HATF-IX missile. Islamabad claims that NASR is nuclear capable. The report carries out a technical analysis and sizing of the missile to see whether a nuclear warhead can fit into it. Pakistan is using NASR to signal a lowering of its nuclear threshold to counter any conventional military operation by India. This is likely to pose challenges for robustness of nuclear deterrence between Pakistan and India. An important question that holds some importance for nuclear stability in the Indian sub-continent is whether NASR is leading Pakistan into a ‘commitment trap.’ The study shows that a weapon system like NASR has more disadvantages than advantages from all considerations ranging from damage potential to impact on deterrence stability.

North Korea’s Successful Space Launch

DPRK Feb 2016 Unha3On December 12 2012 North Korea surprised the world by successfully placing a remote sensing satellite in a sun synchronous orbit using an indigenously developed launcher called the Unha. It repeated this feat on February 7, 2016. The ISSSP analysed the launch using the publicly available information or by making reasonable estimates from images of the launcher. The analysis suggests that North Korea is somewhat more advanced than either Iran or Pakistan in space and missile technologies and products. Though the Unha has been primarily designed for a space application it can also be used as a missile. The launch provides visible evidence that DPRK has been able to integrate these hard technologies with the softer aspects of mission planning and management of a complex project.

Patterns in Terror Attacks in India

slider-terror attacksThis report addresses terrorist incidents in urban and semi urban areas of India. It makes a distinction between insurgencies and terrorist attacks. A preliminary analysis shows that in some of the incidents the bombs were placed randomly showing a lack of sophistication. In some cases the bombs were clustered while in some cases some amount of regularity is observed. This kind of analysis if carried out with complete data will help to classify the perpetrator groups in terms of their organization capabilities and level of sophistication in carrying out such attacks.

China’s Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile

China ASBM DF21-D Acess DenialChina’s spectacular economic growth in the last decade has been accompanied by its impressive performance in the areas of space, missiles and warship building. Among the more remarkable of these has been its development of an Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM), which according to experts, is intended to deter or target US aircraft carriers. This report by the ISSSP assesses China’s capability to design and develop an Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile directed against an Aircraft Carrier Strike Group, and also the Chinese ability to create the technical infrastructure required to transform this missile into an operational weapon system.

Assessment of China’s Ballistic and Cruise Missiles

China Ballistic Cruise MissileThe primary objective of this study is to provide an independent assessment of Chinese ballistic and cruise missile capability. The study also addresses the organisational, strategic and political links in China that impact upon its missile programme. The study uses images of these missiles available in the public domain to make an independent assessment of their capabilities. Length and diameter measurements of the images are used to estimate propellant and stage masses. These estimates are used along with trajectory and range models to assess the performance of the missiles.

Assessment of Pakistan’s Ballistic Missile Programme

slider-pak BM Prod capacityThough there is some material on the Pakistan missile programme in the public domain, it is still a very difficult task to separate out the wheat from the chaff and make a realistic assessment of the programme’s true capabilities. Information in the public domain is often noisy, garbled and distorted.This study on the Pakistan missile programme attempts to provide an independent assessment of Pakistani missile capabilities through a careful scrutiny and analysis of publicly available data.

Recent Publications: Books

India-United States Cooperation on Global Security

Technical Aspects of Civial Nuclear MaterialsThis publication is the result of a workshop jointly organised by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Institute for Advanced Studies (NIAS). The workshop identified and examined potential areas for substantive scientific and technical cooperation between the two countries on issues related to nuclear material security. Technical experts from India and the United States focused on topics of nuclear material security and promising opportunities for India and the United States to learn from each other and cooperate. This report discusses nuclear materials management issues such as nuclear materials accounting, cyber security, physical security, and nuclear forensics.

Evolution of Solid Propellant Rockets in India

Solid Rocket Propellant Rocket IndiaHistorical narration of technological achievements is more an exception than the rule in India. The narration in respect of rocket development in the country generally follows this trend with a few notable exceptions covering the developments in the Indian Space Programme. The development of defence rockets has hardly been touched upon. Propulsion forms a major subsystem of the space launch vehicles and missiles, and today, India boasts of a significant capability and capacity in this discipline. This book highlights the development of solid propellant rockets and the main solid rocket subsystems used in the space programme and ballistic missiles with emphasis on the indigenous nature of development.

Troubling Tehran: Reflections on Geopolitics

Iran Tehran Geopolitics Troubling Tehran BookWhat is the best approach for resolving differences over the Iranian nuclear programme and preventing a conflict? How would a conflict possibly unravel given Iranian military, asymmetric and missile capabilities? What does a military conflict over Iran mean for international order and India in particular? These are some of the questions that the book, Troubling Tehran: Reflections on Geopolitics analyses and seeks answers to. The Iranian nuclear programme is a complex subject plagued by fundamental differences on how best to resolve it. The implications of a military conflict involving Iran are serious for Asia, particularly India.

Rise of China: Indian Perspectives

Rise of China Indian PerspectivesThe remarkable rise of China in the last three decades has had a mixed global reaction. While many countries have welcomed this rise, some of China’s neighbours have viewed it with concern if not consternation. What does the rise of China signify for India, given our none too smooth relationship with China and latter’s unqualified support to Pakistan in military and nuclear field? What do our leading companies feel about China? Would the Indian Ocean be the scene of stiff confrontation between India and China? Or is “China Threat” an exaggeration or hype as some would hold?

People at ISSSP

The International Strategic and Securty Studies Programme (ISSSP) is fortunate to have an interesting mix of people drawn from varied backgrounds. To foster interdisciplinary research, our core facultyconsists of individuals who have held senior positions in various Indian S&T organisations and government departments in addition to several faculty members and researchers who are trained in various aspects of international relations, nuclear issues and economics. As Adjunct Faculty we can draw on the expertise of several experts who have been part of the Indian Atomic Energy programme, the Indian Armed Forces, as well as premier Indian scientific R&D organisations. We also have doctoral students working on national and international security related issues.

Conducting Academic and Policy Research related to National and International Security Issues
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