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SHOULD INDIA DISCARD NO-FIRST-USE NUCLEAR DOCTRINE ?


A #policy of No First Use (NFU) of nuclear weapons has long characterised India’s #security doctrine. Official declarations of that policy can be dated back to at least 1994, when the Government of India delivered a non-paper to #pakistan that included, among other things, an agreement on no first use of the nuclear capability. The country’s formal #nuclear doctrine from January 2003 includes a no first use pledge, albeit with caveats. The #Indian#diplomats have often advanced the country’s commitment not to use #nuclearweapons first as a proof of the country being a “responsible” state and thereby a way to resist any pressures to sign any treaties that would affect its #nuclear arsenal. It would seem then, that the NFU is a core element of India’s nuclear weapons posture.


On the other hand, the #NFU commitment has constantly been challenged and reviewed by various quarters, including no less than the Indian leadership. On several occasions, various high-level officials have frequently floated the idea that India should revisit its commitment to such a policy. Indeed, at the very time that the Government announced that it had adopted a formal doctrine, the #nationalsecurity Advisory Board, as it was constituted then, had recommended that the country -


“may consider withdrawing from this commitment as the other nuclear weapons states have not accepted this policy”


Additionally, India is wedged between two nations with territorial ambitions and which maintain a strategic alliance - Pakistan, a nuclear-armed state with no clear doctrine or policy and #China, a world hegemon in waiting with an expanding nuclear arsenal. In that context, does the No-first-use nuclear policy even make sense for India when looked at from the operational perspective?

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