Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar questions India’s ‘No First Use’ nuclear policy
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar stirred a controversy on Thursday when he questioned India’s No First Use (NFU) policy on nuclear weapons.
“I wonder why we say that we don’t use nuclear weapons first. It doesn’t mean that India has to use nukes, but why rule out. This is my thinking. Some may say that Parrikar says nuclear doctrine has changed, it has not changed in any government policy,” he said at a book release of Brigadier (retd) Gurmeet Kanwal.
He added: “A lot of people say India has a no-first-use nuclear policy, but why should I bind myself? I should say I’m a responsible nuclear power, and I will not use it irresponsibly.”
Parrikar said that he used to “get threats from Defence Minister of neighbouring country every 4-5 days that they are going to use tactical nuclear weapons if they are threatened. The day surgical strikes happened, no threat has come again”.
However, a Defence Ministry spokesperson said that the minister’s remarks, made at a book release, must be taken as “his personal opinion and not his official position.”
Responding to Parrikar’s comments, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said: “Defence Minister Parrikar has no business or authority to speak in personal capacity at a public function. He reflects the thrust and intent of India’s national security policy. If India’s policy on NFU has to be changed, it must be decided after deliberation with the government and stated publicly. Casual, immature and off-the-cuff remarks by India’s Defence Minister, for which he has become famous, are not in India’s interest.”
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said: “This is a most irresponsible comment coming from the Defence Minister. It runs against India’s ethos of seeking a nuclear-free world. When a minister speaks, it has to be the considered opinion of the government. This statement would be taken indignantly by the rest of the world and hurt India’s interests globally.”