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INDIA’S NO FIRST USE POLICY



  Jun 07, 2024

INDIA’S NO FIRST USE POLICY



HISTORICAL CONTEXT AND PRINCIPLES

India adopted the No First Use (NFU) policy following its second nuclear test, Pokhran-II, in 1998. This policy signifies that India will only use nuclear weapons in retaliation to a nuclear attack. The NFU doctrine serves two primary objectives: deterring the use of nuclear weapons by any state against India and ensuring a punitive response if deterrence fails.

CRITICISMS AND CHALLENGES

1. Arguments for First Use:
• Some strategists believe NFU restricts India’s ability to act and gives adversaries the initiative.
• A first strike must neutralize all adversary nuclear capabilities to prevent devastating retaliatory strikes.

2. Arguments Against First Use:
• The retaliatory capabilities and modern nuclear arsenals of adversaries like China and Pakistan make first strikes ineffective and risky.
• First use could lead to catastrophic retaliatory strikes and global condemnation.

STRATEGIC AND DIPLOMATIC CONSIDERATIONS

• Responsible Nuclear Power: NFU underscores India’s image as a responsible nuclear state, aiding its international standing and diplomatic leverage, such as its bid for the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

• Preventing Arms Race: NFU helps avoid a costly arms race and reduces the risk of accidental launches and miscalculations.

• Historical Consistency: India’s strategic culture since the Nehru era has emphasized nuclear minimalism and restraint, aligning with NFU principles.

INTERNATIONAL CONTEXT

• Ukraine Crisis: The ongoing conflict in Ukraine highlights the dangers of nuclear escalation and the importance of policies that prioritize restraint and deterrence over aggressive postures.

• West Asia Tensions: Escalating tensions between Iran and Israel, and the complex nuclear dynamics involving Pakistan, underscore the need for stable and predictable nuclear policies. India’s NFU policy contributes to regional stability and minimizes the risk of nuclear conflict in an already volatile region.

• North Korea: North Korea’s aggressive nuclear posturing and frequent missile tests illustrate the risks associated with abandoning restraint in nuclear policies. India’s NFU stance offers a contrasting model of nuclear responsibility and helps reinforce global non-proliferation norms.

CONCLUSION

Abandoning the NFU policy could destabilize the region and undermine India’s diplomatic advantages. Maintaining NFU reinforces India’s commitment to global nuclear disarmament and strengthens its position as a credible and morally responsible nuclear power. In the current international climate, with tensions in Ukraine, West Asia, and North Korea’s aggressive actions, India’s stance on NFU is even more crucial for maintaining global peace and security.




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