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Nuclear scholars infer India may be jettisoning no-first-use of nukes against Pakistan

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Nuclear scholars infer India may be jettisoning no-first-use of nukes against Pakistan

's persistent use of terrorism under a nuclear cover and the slippery slope that introduced to the region, India may be re-interpreting its no-first-use of nuclear weapons policy+ to allow pre-emptive strikes against its neighbor, the nuclear pundits community is deducing, based among other things on cryptic statements from the Indian establishment.

The purported evolution of India's nuclear doctrine towards pre-emptive first use is primarily based on throwaway remarks made by former defense minister Manohar Parrikar last November wondering why New Delhi should bind itself to a no-first use policy+ , instead of saying more cryptically that it is a responsible nuclear power and will not use nuclear weapons irresponsibly. Those remarks (which Parrikar immediately clarified were his personal views), taken together with a more deliberative narration in former Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon's memoir that ''There is a potential gray area as to when India would use nuclear weapons first'' against a nuclear-armed adversary, has led some nuclear scholars to infer that New Delhi is moving its nuclear doctrine in a new direction.

Some of the conjecture was articulated by Vipin Narang, an MIT nuclear proliferation scholar, at a Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference in Washington DC, attracting attention of domain experts across the world. Outlining developments in the subcontinent that had led India to conceive of its Cold Start doctrine (a punitive conventional strike) only to have it countered by Pakistan's development of tactical battlefield nuclear weapons, Narang said it looked increasingly likely that India may abandon its no-first use police and launch a preemptive strike if it believed Pakistan was going to use any kind of nuclear weapons first.

''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 Pakistan of its nuclear weapons so that India does not have to engage in iterative tit-for-tat exchanges and expose its own cities to nuclear destruction,'' Narang said. ''There is increasing evidence that India will not allow Pakistan to go first.''

 

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