India’s doctrine of Nuclear No First Use

Context

  • Raksha Mantri has said that while India has strictly adhered to the doctrine of ‘No First Use’ (NFU) of nuclear weapons, it can be reconsidered on future circumstances.
  • It was not immediately clear if policymakers are willing to revisit it.

Doctrine in making

  • A commitment to not be the first to use a nuclear weapon in a conflict has long been India’s stated policy.
  • India first adopted a “No first use” policy after its second nuclear tests Pokhran-II, in 1998.
  • In August 1999, the govt. 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”.
  • Pakistan, by contrast, has openly threatened India with the use of nuclear weapons on multiple occasions beginning from the time the two nations were not even acknowledged nuclear powers.

No First Use doctrine

  • Among the major points in the doctrine was “a posture of No First Use”, which was described as follows:
  1. Nuclear weapons will only be used in retaliation against a nuclear attack on Indian territory or on Indian forces anywhere”.
  2. India’s nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage.
  3. Also in the event of a major attack against India, or Indian forces anywhere, by biological or chemical weapons, India will retain the option of retaliating with nuclear weapons.
  4. Nuclear retaliatory attacks can only be authorised by the civilian political leadership through the Nuclear Command Authority. (The Nuclear Command Authority comprises a Political Council and an Executive Council. The Political Council is chaired by the PM.)
  5. India would not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states.
  6. India would continue to put strict controls on the export of nuclear and missile related materials and technologies, participate in the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty negotiations, and continue to observe the moratorium on nuclear tests.
  7. India remains committed to the goal of a nuclear weapons free world, through global, verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament.

Why in news?

  • The successive governments are following Vajpayee’s doctrine and have directly or indirectly reaffirmed their commitment to NFU.
  • However, the doctrine has been questioned at various times by strategic experts in domestic policy debates, and the idea that India should revisit this position has been put forward at various high-level fora.

Source:IE