Nuclear Diplomacy and Disarmament

China reiterates ‘No First Use’ Nuke Policy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: 'No First Use' Policy

Mains level: Nuclear disarmament

China responded to a US report alleging a major build-up in Beijing’s nuclear capabilities. It said, it adheres to its policy of no first use of nuclear weapons.

What is the news?

  • The Pentagon released an annual China security report that warned Beijing would likely have 1,500 nuclear.
  • China currently has 350 nuclear warheads.
  • As of 2022, Russia possesses a total of 5,977 nuclear warheads compared to 5,428 in the US inventory.

What is ‘No First Use’ Doctrine?

  • In nuclear ethics and deterrence theory, NFU is a commitment to never use nuclear weapons first under any circumstances, whether as a pre-emptive attack or first strike, or in response to non-nuclear attack of any kind.

Where do nuclear-armed countries stand on No First Use?

  • China is the only nuclear-armed country to have an unconditional NFU policy.
  • India maintains a policy of NFU with exceptions for a response to chemical or biological attacks.
  • France, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the UK and the US maintain policies that permit the first use of nuclear weapons in a conflict.
  • Israel does not acknowledge the existence of its nuclear arsenal so has no publicly known position.

Why advocate for global NFU commitments now?

  • The world after US bombing of Japan has never faced any crises that could escalate to nuclear conflict.
  • In addition to the precarious situation on the Korean peninsula, we’re running acceptably high risks of nuclear weapons use between-
  1. NATO and Russia: Amid ongoing Ukrainian Invasion
  2. India and Pakistan: Jihadist acquiring nuclear weapons
  3. US and China: Due to provocations over the South China Sea and Taiwan
  • In fact right now the chances that nuclear weapons will be used — intentionally, accidentally, or due to miscalculation — are the highest they’ve been since the worst days of the Cold War.
  • Establishing global NFU would immediately make the world safer by resolving uncertainty about what a nuclear-armed country might do in a crisis.
  • It removes pressure and incentive for any one country to “go nuclear” first in a crisis and thus create a moral obligation on others.

Consequences of nuclear war

  • Any use of a nuclear weapon would invite massive retaliation.
  • Not to mention the horrific aftermath of nuclear war.
  • A 2014 study shows that so-called “limited” nuclear war in South Asia, in which 100 nuclear weapons are used, would have global consequences.
  • Millions of tons of smoke would be sent into the atmosphere, plunging temperatures and damaging the global food supply.
  • Two billion people would be at risk of death by starvation.

What lies ahead?

  • Global No First Use would be an important step toward making nuclear weapons irrelevant to national security.
  • These policies would strip nuclear weapons of value in the eyes of military planners, enable future nuclear disarmament negotiations, and accelerate the dismantling of these weapons.
  • It would also serve as a “confidence-building measure” that establishes greater trust among nuclear-armed countries.
  • It thus makes it easier to work together to reduce nuclear risks and ultimately eliminate all nuclear weapons.


Click and get your FREE Copy of CURRENT AFFAIRS Micro Notes

(Click) FREE 1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch