Nuclear Diplomacy and Disarmament

[op-ed snap] An intervention that leads to more questions


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NFU, NSG, MTCR, Australia Group, Wassenaar Arragement

Mains level : Nuclear doctrine of India


Defence Minister tweeted that India’s ‘future’ commitment to a posture of No First Use of nuclear weapons ‘depends on the circumstances’

Background of NFU

  1. India is one of the two countries that adhere to a doctrine of No First Use (NFU) along with China.
  2. India has maintained that it will not strike first with nuclear weapons.
  3. But India reserves the right to retaliate to any nuclear first strike against it (or any ‘major’ use of weapons of mass destruction against Indian forces) with a nuclear strike ‘that will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage’.

How it benefited us

  1. NFU simply raises the nuclear threshold in order to bring stability to a volatile environment.
  2. The adoption of the nuclear doctrine came soon after Operation Parakram (2001-02).
  3. The public adoption of the doctrine an attempt by India to restate its commitment to restraint and to being a responsible nuclear power.
  4. India used this restraint to repulse the intruders in Kargil and regain occupied land. despite India and Pakistan’s nuclear tests of 1998.
  5. It gave India the space for conventional operations and gained it sympathy in foreign capitals despite the fears of nuclear miscalculation.
  6. India’s self-proclaimed restraint brought it into the nuclear mainstream
    1. the initial application for the waiver in 2008 from the Nuclear Suppliers Group
    2. membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Wassenaar Arrangement, and the Australia Group
    3. ongoing attempts to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group

Need for change in stance

  1. Revoking the commitment to NFU does not necessarily equate with abandoning restraint
  2. Many advocate a more muscular nuclear policy for India. Bharat Karnad, a member of the first National Security Advisory Board considered NFU ‘a fraud’ which would be ‘the first casualty’, if war were to break out.
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