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India Eyeing at Revising it’s ‘No First Use’ Nuke Policy? Know the Details

Rajnath Singh said this while talking to a news agency in Pokhran, Rajasthan where he attended the closing ceremony of the army scout master competition. Notably, Pokhran is the site of two nuclear tests by India; once in 1974 when Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister and second nuclear test in 1998 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister of India.

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India may change no first use nuke policy, Rajnath Singh at pokhran, atal Bihari death anniversary Rajnath comment

Amidst the ongoing tensions between Nuclear Weapon states India and Pakistan, the Union Defence Minister of India Rajnath Singh on August 16, Friday has made it clear by confirming that as of now India will not break the doctrine of ‘No First Use’ nuke policy but concluded that whatever happens in the future “depends on the circumstances then”.

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Rajnath Singh said this while talking to a news agency in Pokhran, Rajasthan where he attended the closing ceremony of the army scout master competition. Notably, Pokhran is the site of two nuclear tests by India; once in 1974 when Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister and second nuclear test in 1998 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister of India.

“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’. It is true that till now, India has strictly adhered to the ‘No First Use’ policy. What happens in future depends on the circumstances,” Singh said to the reporter of the news agency. He also wrote this on the micro blogging site Twitter. “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,” he said in another tweet.

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Rajnath Singh was, however, in Pokhran to offer tributes to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his first death anniversary. The words of the Defence Minister spread very fast and so, in a very quick response to him, Pakistan Minister for Human Rights Dr. Shireen Mazari claimed that India’s ‘No First Use’ policy ended on 4 January 2003 when the Indian government had allegedly stated the use of nuclear weapons against any attack on India or the Indian forces. Notably, India has never actually started any provocation with Pakistan, still adhering to it’s ‘No First use’ policy.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government had, however, in its 2014 election manifesto, promised to “study in detail India’s nuclear doctrine, and revise and update it, to make it relevant to challenges of current times” but so far it has not proposed any change in the nuclear doctrine or the ‘No First Use’ policy.

The relation between the nuclear powered neighbours India and Pakistan has worsened when India abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories. While New Delhi said categorically to domestic and international platform alike that it is India’s internal matter, Pakistan has called the ‘unilateral’ move as ‘illegal’ and has taken a number of actions against India including downgrading trade ties.

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What is No First Use Policy?

‘No First Use’ (NFU) refers to a pledge or a policy by a nuclear power country and it says not to use nuclear weapons as a means of warfare unless first attacked by any opponent country using nuclear weapons.

India first adopted a “No first use” policy after its second nuclear tests, Pokhran II, in 1998. In August 1999, the Indian government released a draft of the doctrine which asserts that nuclear weapons are solely for deterrence and that India will pursue a policy of “retaliation only”.

The document also states that India “will not be the first to initiate a nuclear first strike, but will respond with punitive retaliation should deterrence fail” and that decisions to authorise the use of nuclear weapons would be made by the Prime Minister or his ‘designated successor(s)’. According to the National Research Development Corporation, despite the escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan in 2001–2002, India remained committed to its nuclear No First Use policy.

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