NUKE USE … Rajnath says ‘no first-use’ nuclear policy is not constant, it can change in future

NEW DELHI: The Modi government dropped a bombshell on Friday by saying it might change the long-held “no first-use” nuclear policy vis-a-vis neighbours.  The statement was made by defence minister Rajnath Singh when he visited Pokhran, the site where India first tested its nuclear weapons in 1998 under the Vajpayee-led BJP government.

“Till now ‘no first use’ is our policy. What happens in future depends on circumstances,” he said. India had so far been insisting that it would abide by the policy irrespective of provocations. 

Pakistani generals had, in the past, threatened India with use of Pakistani nukes if it ever faced a military threat from India, irrespective of whether or not India used a nuke against it or not. In recent years, Pakistan is known to have developed small nuclear bombs for positioning on their side of LoC to target India if a need arose.

Pakistan, however, blinked when IAF fighter jets crossed the LoC and reached upto 80km inside Pakistan, close to military headquarters Rawalpindi, and dropped bombs on terrorist installations in Balakot. Now, Pakistan prime minister suspects India might do something more strong than what it did in Balakot.

Rajnath Singh’s statement could also be interpreted to mean a change in India’s nuclear policy, if it ever happens, would have similar implications on the northern neighbour, China too, which has larger nuclear arsenals than India. 

Meanwhile, UN Security Council would discuss, in camera, on Friday the Indian action of abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution and changing the status of Jammu and Kashmir from being a state to a Union Territory. China moved papers in this respect, also drawing in the issue of bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir by making Ladakh a separate Union Territory. 

India does not think the security council would cause any embarrassment to New Delhi, as all security council member nations other than China have backed the Indian action in Jammu and Kashmir, in view of the terrorist mayhem there for many years now. –IHN-NN


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