Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at Pokhran after India’s second nuclear test in May 1998.(HT FIL E PHOTO)
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at Pokhran after India’s second nuclear test in May 1998.(HT FIL E PHOTO)

‘No need to change No First Use policy’, says India’s top nuclear scientist

The government’s former chief scientific advisor Dr R Chidambaram believes that India’s ‘No First Use’ policy of nuclear weapons is a good position to keep.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By Sudhi Ranjan Sen
UPDATED ON JUL 17, 2019 07:22 PM IST

One of India’s top nuclear physicists credited with making the country a nuclear power said on Wednesday there was no need to change the “No First Use” policy – New Delhi’s declared policy on the use of nuclear weapons.

“There is no need to change the “No First Use” policy. As a responsible country it is a good position to keep,” former chief scientific advisor to the government Dr R Chidambaram said while addressing the Jasjit Singh Memorial lecture organised by the Centre for Air Power Studies on national security in New Delhi. Strongly backing the No- First Use policy Dr Chidambaram said, “If you get every country to agree, disarmament would be achieved globally.”

Chidambaram (82) who had also served as the director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission, was a key member of the teams that carried out India’s two nuclear tests in Pokhran in 1974 and 1998, Dr Chidambaram also rejected need to carry out any more tests.

“We cleaned up our knowledge of physics during the test then, and with supercomputing and better modelling, India does not need to carry out any further tests,” he said and added, “India has declared a moratorium on further nuclear tests.”

Speaking about the nuclear tests, Dr Chidambaram said all possible requirements were adequately tested. “One of the fission devices tested was ready for 15 years. We tested storage as well. India now has all the data needed and tests are not necessary,” he added.

He described India’s nuclear programme as “anti-fragile” and said “the more control that established nuclear powers put on us the better we became.” At the same time he advised ample caution against trying to develop every technology internally. “If anything is denied you should have the capability to develop it, but there is no need to reinvent the wheel.”

Dr Chidambaram who addressed a wide gamut of issues that affect national security, said that “development without security is vulnerable whereas (spending on) security without development was meaningless.”

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