New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday said India is a ‘responsible nuclear power’ and that it shouldn't wade into the ‘first-use’ debate. However, soon after his remarks, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued a statement saying that his remarks were his personal opinion.
“What Defence Minister Parrikar said was his personal opinion and not official position. What he said was that India being a responsible power should not get into 1st use debate,” the MoD statement read.
Parrikar was referring to India’s policy that it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons in case of an armed conflict; however, rival country Pakistan does not abide by any such doctrine.
"If written down strategy exists or you take a stand on a nuclear aspect, I think you're actually giving away your strength in nuclear. People say India has no-first-use nuclear concept. I should say that I'm a responsible nuclear power and I'll not use it irresponsibly," Parrikar said during a book launch.
Without naming Pakistan, Parrikar said that the neighbouring country has issued warning that it would not hesitate in using its nuclear stockpile if threatened.
“If there is any question or danger to the country, I will not open the book first,” he said.
The Defence Minister also clarified that his statement were only his views and did not reflect any change in policy by the government.
“This my thinking. Some may say that Parrikar says nuclear doctrine has changed, it has not changed in any Govt policy,” he added.
Parrikar’s comments come at a time when India is trying hard to get into the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) but its entry bid has been scuttled by China.
Only last week, China stuck to its guns saying there was "no change" in its stand on India's membership bid which it has indicated would be considered only after rules for entry of non-NPT countries are finalised by the elite group.
Lu Kang, Spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry said China is in close contact with relevant parties including India and have been having constructive dialogue and coordination on this issue.
NSA Ajit Doval had held talks with Chinese counterpart and State Councillor Yang Jiechi in Hyderabad during which the issue had reportedly figured.
The talks were held ahead of the meeting of the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in Vienna on November 11-12, where according to media reports the group could discuss the two-stage process to admit new members who have not signed nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).
India and Pakistan which have applied for NSG membership have not signed the NPT.
After the second round talks with India on its entry into the NSG, China had said that it will first seek a solution to admit all countries who have not signed NPT and then discuss India's specific application....