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Pokhran: Defence Research and Defence Organisation (DRDO) successfully test fired the indigenously developed Pinaka guided rocket system, at Pokhran, Monday, March 11, 2019. (PTI Photo)(PTI3_11_2019_000159B)
Pokhran: Defence Research and Defence Organisation (DRDO) successfully test fired the indigenously developed Pinaka guided rocket system, at Pokhran, Monday, March 11, 2019. (PTI Photo)(PTI3_11_2019_000159B)

India reaffirms its policy of no first use of nuclear weapons

  • The underscoring the policy no first use against nuclear weapon states and non-use against countries without atomic weapons comes against the backdrop of a debate over whether India should reconsider its stance

NEW DELHI: India overnight Saturday reiterated its policy of no first use of nuclear weapons and its long-standing commitment to universal nuclear disarmament aimed at complete elimination of atomic weapons.

This comes amid a tense military standoff with nuclear weapons-armed China along the India-China border in Ladakh.

In a statement to the High-level Meeting to Commemorate and Promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said, “India espouses the policy of ‘No First Use’ against nuclear weapon states and non-use against non-nuclear weapon states...India is a key partner in global efforts towards disarmament and strengthening the non-proliferation order."

The underscoring the policy no first use against nuclear weapon states and non-use against countries without atomic weapons comes against the backdrop of a debate over whether India should reconsider this policy.

Former defence minister Manohar Parrikar had in 2016 suggested a degree of “unpredictability" when it came to the issue of nuclear weapons but had added that was “not a change in any policy" and was his personal opinion. The comments had, however, stirred debate and speculation as to whether India was indeed doing a rethink on its no first use policy.

India came out of the nuclear closet in 1998 with five nuclear tests. In a letter to then US President Bill Clinton, then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had cited China as the reason for acquiring nuclear weapons capability. In 1999, India unveiled its nuclear doctrine that included the no first use policy.

In his speech on Saturday, Shringla said India was of the view that “nuclear disarmament can be achieved through a step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed multilateral framework. India remains convinced of the need for meaningful dialogue among all States possessing nuclear weapons, for building trust and confidence.“

“India reiterates its long-standing and unwavering commitment to universal, verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament leading to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons," he said.

India’s annual resolution in the UN General Assembly on the "Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons" tabled since 1982, “enjoys wide support and reaffirms that any use of nuclear weapons would be a violation of the UN Charter and a crime against humanity," he said.

India supported the work done by the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament (CD) seen as the world’s single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum as also the commencement of negotiations on a Comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention at the CD, the foreign secretary said.

“ Without prejudice to the priority attached to nuclear disarmament, India remains committed to the immediate commencement of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty in the CD on the basis of CD/1299 and the mandate contained therein," he said.

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