?No first use? Nuclear Policy

Conventionally 9 nations are thought to possess nuclear weapons. These include the 5 permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (US, UK, Russia, China and France), 3 other member states who have an openly declared nuclear weapons program (India, Pakistan and North Korea) and one other nation (Isreal) which maintains a deliberate silence on the presence of its nuclear weapons but is thought to possess them.

Why is this important?

  • Nuclear weapons are weapons of mass destruction.
  • Not only do they scour all life in the area they are dropped in, but they also make entire region unlivable for several generations to come.
  • The explosion of a nuclear weapon is followed by the release of a massive amount of radioactive materials to the air which makes living in areas near to an explosion site equally difficult.
  • Thus, global powers including the nuclear weapons armed states themselves are cautious before using the weapons with several nations like India and China have maintained a non-first use policy of nuclear weapons.

What is the No-first use policy?

  • A No first use (NFU) is a promise made by a nuclear-armed state to not to use its nuclear weapons until it is first attacked by an opponent having and using nuclear weapons.
  • Famously, India and China have a strong No-first use policy of nuclear weapons.
  • Earlier, Russia too had a no-first-use policy but after its massive reduction in conventional military strength, it has scrapped its pledge and now calls for a nuclear attack even when it is subjected to a conventional forces attack.
  • Pakistan has indicated that it will use any weapon (including nuclear) if it is under heavy attack.

Why is it in the news?

The Indian Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh has stated that India may have to revisit its No-first use pledge if the circumstances dictate it. He was speaking on the death anniversary of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

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