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Will India abandon 'no first use' nuclear policy?

An expert says India might do it fearing that Islamabad is most likely to use nuclear weapons first

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

may abandon its 'no first use' and launch a preemptive strike against if it feared that was likely to use the weapons first, a top nuclear expert on South has claimed.

The remarks by Vipin Narang, an expert on South Asian nuclear strategy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, before a audience was though a negation of India's stated policy of 'no first use'.



During the 2017 Carnegie International Conference, Narang said, "There is increasing evidence that will not allow to go first".

He said "may" abandon the policy and launch a preemptive strike against if it believed that was going to use nuclear weapons or most likely the tactical nuclear weapons against it.

But, he pointed out, India's preemptive strike may not be conventional strikes and would also be aimed at Pakistan's missiles launchers for tactical battlefield nuclear warheads.

"India's opening salvo may not be conventional strikes trying to pick off just Nasr batteries in the theatre, but a full 'comprehensive counterforce strike' that attempts to completely disarm of its nuclear weapons so that does not have to engage in iterative tit-for-tat exchanges and expose its own cities to nuclear destruction," Narang said.

He said this thinking surfaces not from fringe extreme voices or retired Indian Army officers frustrated by the lack of resolve they believe their government has shown in multiple provocations, but from no less than a former Commander of India's Strategic Forces, Lt Gen BS Nagal.

It also comes perhaps more importantly and authoritatively, from the highly-respected and influential former security adviser Shivshankar Menon in his 2016 book 'Choices: Inside the Making of Indian Foreign Policy', the nuclear strategist said.

"Serious voices, who cannot be ignored, seem to suggest that this is where may be heading, and certainly wants to head," Narang said.

"So our conventional understanding of South Asia's nuclear dynamics and who, in fact, might use nuclear weapons first and in what mode may need a hard rethink given these emerging authoritative voices in who are not content to cede the nuclear initiative to Pakistan," he said, adding that this would mark a major shift in Indian strategy if implemented.

"In short, we may be witnessing what I call a 'decoupling' of Indian nuclear strategy between China and "

Sameer Lalwani, senior associate and deputy director South at the Stimson Center, an American think-tank, said Narang's remarks challenged the conventional wisdom of South Asia's strategic stability problem.

Based on recent statements and writings of high-level security officials (serving and retired), Narang argued that may be exhibiting a "seismic shift" in its nuclear strategy from 'no first use' to a preemptive nuclear counterforce allowing for escalation dominance or a "splendid first strike" against Pakistan, Lalwani said.

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Will India abandon 'no first use' nuclear policy?

An expert says India might do it fearing that Islamabad is most likely to use nuclear weapons first

An expert says India might do it fearing that Islamabad is most likely to use nuclear weapons first may abandon its 'no first use' and launch a preemptive strike against if it feared that was likely to use the weapons first, a top nuclear expert on South has claimed.

The remarks by Vipin Narang, an expert on South Asian nuclear strategy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, before a audience was though a negation of India's stated policy of 'no first use'.

During the 2017 Carnegie International Conference, Narang said, "There is increasing evidence that will not allow to go first".

He said "may" abandon the policy and launch a preemptive strike against if it believed that was going to use nuclear weapons or most likely the tactical nuclear weapons against it.

But, he pointed out, India's preemptive strike may not be conventional strikes and would also be aimed at Pakistan's missiles launchers for tactical battlefield nuclear warheads.

"India's opening salvo may not be conventional strikes trying to pick off just Nasr batteries in the theatre, but a full 'comprehensive counterforce strike' that attempts to completely disarm of its nuclear weapons so that does not have to engage in iterative tit-for-tat exchanges and expose its own cities to nuclear destruction," Narang said.

He said this thinking surfaces not from fringe extreme voices or retired Indian Army officers frustrated by the lack of resolve they believe their government has shown in multiple provocations, but from no less than a former Commander of India's Strategic Forces, Lt Gen BS Nagal.

It also comes perhaps more importantly and authoritatively, from the highly-respected and influential former security adviser Shivshankar Menon in his 2016 book 'Choices: Inside the Making of Indian Foreign Policy', the nuclear strategist said.

"Serious voices, who cannot be ignored, seem to suggest that this is where may be heading, and certainly wants to head," Narang said.

"So our conventional understanding of South Asia's nuclear dynamics and who, in fact, might use nuclear weapons first and in what mode may need a hard rethink given these emerging authoritative voices in who are not content to cede the nuclear initiative to Pakistan," he said, adding that this would mark a major shift in Indian strategy if implemented.

"In short, we may be witnessing what I call a 'decoupling' of Indian nuclear strategy between China and "

Sameer Lalwani, senior associate and deputy director South at the Stimson Center, an American think-tank, said Narang's remarks challenged the conventional wisdom of South Asia's strategic stability problem.

Based on recent statements and writings of high-level security officials (serving and retired), Narang argued that may be exhibiting a "seismic shift" in its nuclear strategy from 'no first use' to a preemptive nuclear counterforce allowing for escalation dominance or a "splendid first strike" against Pakistan, Lalwani said.
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Business Standard
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Will India abandon 'no first use' nuclear policy?

An expert says India might do it fearing that Islamabad is most likely to use nuclear weapons first

may abandon its 'no first use' and launch a preemptive strike against if it feared that was likely to use the weapons first, a top nuclear expert on South has claimed.

The remarks by Vipin Narang, an expert on South Asian nuclear strategy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, before a audience was though a negation of India's stated policy of 'no first use'.

During the 2017 Carnegie International Conference, Narang said, "There is increasing evidence that will not allow to go first".

He said "may" abandon the policy and launch a preemptive strike against if it believed that was going to use nuclear weapons or most likely the tactical nuclear weapons against it.

But, he pointed out, India's preemptive strike may not be conventional strikes and would also be aimed at Pakistan's missiles launchers for tactical battlefield nuclear warheads.

"India's opening salvo may not be conventional strikes trying to pick off just Nasr batteries in the theatre, but a full 'comprehensive counterforce strike' that attempts to completely disarm of its nuclear weapons so that does not have to engage in iterative tit-for-tat exchanges and expose its own cities to nuclear destruction," Narang said.

He said this thinking surfaces not from fringe extreme voices or retired Indian Army officers frustrated by the lack of resolve they believe their government has shown in multiple provocations, but from no less than a former Commander of India's Strategic Forces, Lt Gen BS Nagal.

It also comes perhaps more importantly and authoritatively, from the highly-respected and influential former security adviser Shivshankar Menon in his 2016 book 'Choices: Inside the Making of Indian Foreign Policy', the nuclear strategist said.

"Serious voices, who cannot be ignored, seem to suggest that this is where may be heading, and certainly wants to head," Narang said.

"So our conventional understanding of South Asia's nuclear dynamics and who, in fact, might use nuclear weapons first and in what mode may need a hard rethink given these emerging authoritative voices in who are not content to cede the nuclear initiative to Pakistan," he said, adding that this would mark a major shift in Indian strategy if implemented.

"In short, we may be witnessing what I call a 'decoupling' of Indian nuclear strategy between China and "

Sameer Lalwani, senior associate and deputy director South at the Stimson Center, an American think-tank, said Narang's remarks challenged the conventional wisdom of South Asia's strategic stability problem.

Based on recent statements and writings of high-level security officials (serving and retired), Narang argued that may be exhibiting a "seismic shift" in its nuclear strategy from 'no first use' to a preemptive nuclear counterforce allowing for escalation dominance or a "splendid first strike" against Pakistan, Lalwani said.

image
Business Standard
177 22