India’s ‘No First Use’ policy may change based on circumstances: Rajnath Singh

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday indicated that India may abandon its ‘No First Use’ police on nuclear weapons. The senior BJP leader said “It is our firm resolve to make India a nuclear power and yet remain firmly committed to the doctrine of ‘No First Use’. It is true that till now, India has strictly adhered to the ‘No First Use’ policy. What happens in future depends on the circumstances. “The Defence Minister made the significant statement in Pokhran, Rajasthan, on the first death anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, where India had in 1998 secretly conducted five nuclear tests’ No First Use (NFU) policy refers to a pledge by a nuclear power not to use nuclear weapons as a means of warfare unless first attacked by an adversary using nuclear weapons. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day Address to the Nation announced appointment of a Chief Defence Staff for more effective coordination among the Army Forces, IAF and the Navy. He has resolved to strengthen and modernize the three services for meeting any eventuality. In a tweet, Rajnath Singh added, “Pokhran is the area which witnessed Atal Ji’s firm resolve to make India a nuclear power and yet remain firmly committed to the doctrine of ‘No First Use’. India has strictly adhered to this doctrine. What happens in future depends on the circumstances.” It was during Vajpayee’s tenure as prime minister that India conducted five nuclear tests and became a nuclear weapon state in 1998. Pakistan, in response, had conducted six tests – breaking out of the nuclear closet. India had brought out its nuclear doctrine in 1999 in which it had declared a ‘no first use policy’ i.e. it would not be the first to launch a nuclear weapon but retained the right to retaliate in response to an atomic strike.

In 2016, then defence minister Manohar Parrikar had set off questions about whether the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government was doing a rethink on its nuclear doctrine when he had asked why India should bind itself to a no first use policy.(piz courtesy to ANI)

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