16 Aug 2019
India's 'No First Use' Nuclear policy could change, hints Rajnath
In an unexpected turn of events, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday hinted that India might change its nuclear policy, which prohibits it from using the dangerous weapon first on the enemy during war.
Rajnath made the remarks at Pokhran, Rajasthan, where India conducted two nuclear tests.
Notably, his comments come at a time when tensions between India and Pakistan are soaring high.
What happens in future will depend on circumstances: Rajnath
On his visit to Pokhran, Rajnath paid tributes to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who passed away on August 16, 2018.
Vajpayee was the PM when India successfully conducted nuclear tests in 1998.
Rajnath said Vajpayee was committed to making India a nuclear power.
"Till today, our nuclear policy is 'No First Use'. What happens in the future depends on the circumstances," he said.
The nation will remain indebted to Atal Ji: Rajnath
India attaining the status of a responsible nuclear nation became a matter of national pride for every citizen of this country. The nation will remain indebted to the greatness of Atal Ji.— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) August 16, 2019
What is India's nuclear policy?
Notably, India adopted the "No First use" policy after Pokhran II tests. In 1999, the Indian government released a doctrine which specified that nuclear weapons would be used only for retaliation.
The document maintains that India "will not be the first to initiate a nuclear first strike, but will respond with punitive retaliation should deterrence fail".
Further, India can't use weapons against non-nuclear states.
A bit about India's nuclear tests
India successfully conducted the first nuclear bomb test on 18 May 1974, when Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister. With this test, India became the world's sixth nuclear power after the United States, Soviet Union, Britain, France, and China.
In 1998, India conducted Pokhran-II tests between May 11 and 13.
Notably, Pokhran-II tests consisted of five detonations, one fusion bomb, and four fission bombs.
Years ago, Modi spoke highly of NFU policy
In the run-up for 2014 elections, Narendra Modi, who was the prime ministerial candidate then, had maintained that India should follow the NFU policy.
"No first use was a great initiative of Atal Bihari Vajpayee - there is no compromise on that," he had said.
However, in recent years, questions have been raised on the policy, with many believing that it unnecessarily puts restrictions on India.
Why should I bind myself, Parrikar had asked
In 2016, late Manohar Parrikar, who was the Defense Minister between 2014 and 2017, asked why should India restrict itself.
"Why a lot of people say that India has No First Use policy. Why should I bind myself to a... I should say I am a responsible nuclear power and I will not use it irresponsibly. This is my thinking," Parrikar had said.