Why bind ourselves to ‘no first use policy’, says Parrikar on India’s nuke doctrine

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:04 pm IST

Published - November 10, 2016 09:55 pm IST - New Delhi

Manohar Parrikar. File Photo

Manohar Parrikar. File Photo

Diverging from India’s declared No First Use (NFU) policy, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday suggested there should be a degree of “unpredictability” when it came to the issue of nuclear weapons. However, he said this is “not a change in any policy” and was his personal opinion.

“Why should I bind myself? I should say I am a responsible nuclear power and I will not use it [nuclear weapons] irresponsibly,” he said after releasing a book, The New Arthashastra-A Security Strategy of India, edited by strategic expert Brig Gurmeet Kanwal (retd).

The policy of NFU came into being soon after India tested nuclear weapons in May 1998 under the prime ministership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the first NDA government. The NFU policy committed to only by India and China among the nuclear weapon states has been the corner stone of India’s nuclear doctrine.

Mr. Parrikar said if a written down strategy exists or if India takes a stand really on a nuclear aspect, “you are actually giving away your strength in nuclear.” “This is my thinking,” he said.

Referring to Pakistan’s claims that it would use Tactical Nuclear Weapons (TNW) if it was threatened, the Minister said, “After surgical strikes, no such threat came. They realise that we can do something which is not well-defined.”

PTI adds...

Asked if this means that India is going to rethink its nuclear policy, the Minister replied in the negative.

“I am not at all saying about rethinking. What I am saying is that if I fix my doctrine...question was on nuclear, any aspect of my defence functioning, if I make it predictable, then I will lose the advantage of surprise. Unpredictability has to be built in your certain types of policy. You may decide for yourself, but don’t spell it out,” he said.

Repeatedly stressing that “it was my personal opinion”, Mr.Parrikar said he feels that anything loses its importance if one predicts it.

“Basic logic of it, forget about nuclear or anything, basic knowledge of any security apparatus is, its weightage is defined by how I am going to use it. So in a security strategic programme, I am very clear that your strategy also needs to be be slightly kept unpredictable. Then only it carries weight,” he said.

Parrikar also he said he often wonders why India does not have a written security doctrine.

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