Defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday wondered why India bound itself to its “no first use” policy instead of saying “we are a responsible nuclear power and will not use it irresponsibly”.
The minister’s comments come at a time tensions between India and Pakistan are escalating, and also precede India’s plans to sign a nuclear pact with Japan.
“Why should I bind myself? I should say I am a responsible nuclear power and I will not use it irresponsibly. This is my thinking,” Parrikar said in response to a question about the unpredictability in warfare strategy. He further clarified that his remarks were his personal view on the matter.
The defence ministry also reiterated that Parrikar’s remarks were his own, and not the government’s official position. “What he said was that India, being a responsible power, should not get into first use debate. But once again it is clarified that this was his (Parrikar’s) personal opinion,” a defence ministry spokesperson said.
India declared its “no first use” nuclear policy in 1998 following its nuclear weapons test.
While elaborating on his thoughts, Parrikar also took a dig at media, joking that they would now run a story that the nuclear policy has changed.
“It has not changed in government. It is my concept. As an individual I also get feeling. I am not saying you have to use it first. Hoax can be called off,” he said.
He also said that prior to the surgical strike, Pakistan defence minister used to threaten India with the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons. “From the day surgical strike happened, no threat has come. They realised that we can do something which is not well defined.”