New Delhi: In the midst of the worst tension with Pakistan in over a decade, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said that he personally believes India should not "bind" itself to a no-first-use nuclear policy. A Defence Ministry spokesperson said that the minister's remarks, made at a book release, must be taken as "his personal opinion and not his official position."
- No-first-use of nuclear weapons should not be stated: Defence Minister
- Defence Minister stresses this is personal opinion
- No change in government stand, says Defence Minister Parrikar
India follows the principle that it would not be first to use atomic weapons in a conflict. Pakistan does not abide by this.
Stating that there is often talk of India's no-first-use commitment, the Defence Minister said, "If a written down strategy exists or you take a stand really on a nuclear aspect, I think you are actually giving away your strength in nuclear... a lot of people say India has a no-first-use nuclear policy, but why should I bind myself? I should say I'm a responsible nuclear power and I will not use it irresponsibly. This is my thinking." He underscored that his remarks should not be seen as a sign that the government has changed its nuclear doctrine. "Some of them (news channels) tomorrow may flash nuclear doctrine has changed, but it has not.
The no-first-use commitment was made after India conducted a series of nuclear tests in 1998. Pakistan responded within weeks by conducting tests of its own. In its election manifesto in 2014, the BJP had said it would review India's nuclear stand and "revise and update it, to make it relevant to challenges of current times."
Mr Parrikar said that he used to "get threat(s) from Defence Minister of neighbouring country every 4-5 days that they are going to use tactical nuclear weapons if they are threatened. The day surgical strikes happened, no threat has come again. "India carried out surgical strikes late in September, days after Pakistani terrorists attacked an army camp in Uri in Kashmir, leaving 19 soldiers dead. Soldiers crossed into Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and targeted gathering areas for terrorists, the army said. Pakistan denies the cross-border raids.
India has been arguing its case to enter the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a 48-country bloc that controls the trade and transfer of sophisticated nuclear technology and material. China has led a group of nations that have blocked India's membership, arguing that it has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the main global arms control covenant.