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Home » RELEVANCE OF “NO FIRST USE” NUCLEAR POLICY

RELEVANCE OF “NO FIRST USE” NUCLEAR POLICY

GS 3, MAINS: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.

 

EVOLUTION OF THE DOCTRINE OF NO FIRST USE:

  • The origin of nuclear doctrine of India has its connection with the first nuclear bomb of the country which was tested at Pokhran test range of Rajasthan in the month of 1999. After some days Pakistan also tested its nuclear bomb to balance out the nuclear superiority of India in the South Asian region with the help of China.
  • There was the situation of distrust between the two newly nuclear powered nations of South Asia and the small non-nuclear powered countries were also in a state of fear and uncertainty.
  • Although, this had nothing much to do with the credibility of Pakistan in the region but the Indian policy of neighbourhood first was seriously affected by this test. In this backdrop, government of India enacted India’s nuclear doctrine of NFU in the year 2003.
  • After China, India is the only country in the region having the policy of NFU which says that India will not attack any country unless it has been first attacked by the enemy country with nuclear weapons.
  • India has said consistently that its nuclear weapons were based on staggering and punitive retaliation, in case deterrence failed. The retaliation to a nuclear strike, any nuclear strike, whether by tactical or theatre weapons or something bigger, would be crushing enough to deter the possible use of nuclear weapons by an adversary.

RELEVANCE OF THE DOCTRINE:

  • The proponents of NFU policy of India claim it as an important mile stone in the stability and strategic balance of the region. This policy of India, where it will not use the nuclear weapons at a first go, has created a trust among the neighbours.
  • Along with that, conventional wars have been avoided between India and Pakistan in the year 2001 at the backdrop of Parliament attack and in 2008 after the Mumbai terrorist attack due India’s commitment to NFU policy as against the unclear nuclear policy of Pakistan.
  • Revoking this NFU policy will not only destroy the power balance of the region but will also lead to a destructive nuclear war and armed race in the region as predicted by many.
  • It will also hamper India’s international and regional image of a non- aggressor as there will be a sense of apprehension among the friendly neighbours too.

WHY IT IS IRRELEVANT:

  • Time and again, India’s NFU policy has helped Pakistan to bargain with India in the situations of conventional war. By blackmailing India through the nuclear threat, Pakistan creates nefarious activities like terrorism in India. The situation can be in the favour of India if India withdraws its NFU policy as Pakistan will fear India more and will refrain from terrorist and secessionist actives in India.
  • Indian advantages in conventional war has been successfully countered by the threat of nuclear attack by Pakistan due to India’s faulty policy of no first use with respect to the nuclear weapons.
  •  While China was conventionally stronger, India felt somewhat protected due to difficult terrain on the Himalayan border. Now, China’s impressive infrastructure and massive military modernisation have effectively eroded the Himalayan buffer. Now, the conventional disparity between India and China is not just huge but also more palpable. This is putting immense pressure on India’s NFU policy
  • It is true that NFU policy of India has helped to promote peace in the region in the last decade but it has outlived its expected time period. This has been proved in the two surgical strikes carried out by India in Pakistan after Uri attack and Pulwama attack where the nuclear bluff of Pakistan has been busted successfully.
  • India’s solid fuel missiles have enabled it to move towards canisterised systems for storing its land-based ballistic missiles. Such systems can reduce turnaround times — earlier India used to rely on physical separation of components to prevent unauthorised use — and hence are suitable even for pre-emptive strikes in case the rival is shown to be readying its nuclear assets for use. Canisterisation has further enabled India’s nuclear deterrent to move to the seas. With INS Arihant, a nuclear propelled ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), India has a credible sea-based deterrent. With a couple of more SSBNs, it can boast of a genuine nuclear triad. But SSBNs involve pre-mating of warheads with ballistic missiles, and hence increase the strain on command and control, especially with the NFU policy intact. Both canisterisation and sea-based deterrence thus increase the strain on NFU policy.

NEED FOR A RETHINK AND REVIEW:

  • Reconsidering NFU policy will affect India’s  relationship with neighbours like Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bhutan as they will start fearing India. Here they can also go closer to China as it can be an alternative protector of them due to its commitment to NFU policy till today. This issue can be addressed by the suggestions of the former National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon who signaled a significant shift from ‘No first use’ to & ‘no first use against non-nuclear weapon states’. This new doctrine would reflect India’s strategic significance, with its emphasis on minimal deterrence.

CONCLUSION: There should be a new nuclear doctrine of India with revised NFU policy to address the strategic needs of the country in a hostile neighbourhood. This will offer India an edge over Pakistan and will also help India retain its friendly neighbours for a peaceful, balanced South Asia region.

PREVIOUS YEARS UPSC MAINS QUESTIONS:

  • The terms ‘Hot Pursuit’ and ‘Surgical Strikes’ are often used in connection with armed action against terrorist attacks. Discuss the strategic impact of such actions. (2016)
  • Border management is a complex task due to difficult terrain and hostile relations with some countries. Elucidate the challenges and strategies for effective border management. (2016)
  • International civil aviation laws provide all countries complete and exclusive sovereignty over the airspace above the territory. What do you understand by airspace? What are the implications of these laws on the space above this airspace? Discuss the challenges which this poses and suggests ways to contain the threat. (2014)
  • The diverse nature of India as a multireligious and multi-ethnic society is not immune to the impact of radicalism which has been in her neighbourhood. Discuss along with the strategies to be adopted to counter this environment. (2014)
  • How illegal transborder migration does pose a threat to India’s security? Discuss the strategies to curb this, bring out the factors which give impetus to such migration. (2014            
  • In 2012, the longitudinal marking of the high-risk areas for piracy was moved from 65° East to 78° east in the Arabian Sea by International Maritime organisation. What impact does this have on India’s maritime security concerns? (2014)
  • China and Pakistan have entered into an agreement for development of an economic corridor. What thread does it dispose for India’s security? Critically examine. (2014)
  • How far are India’s internal security challenges linked with border management, particularly in view of the long porous borders with most countries of South Asia and Myanmar? (2013)