No first-use policy on nukes may change in future, hints Rajnath

India committed to no first use of nuclear weapons in its nuclear doctrine of 2003

Rajnath Vajpayee Defence Minister Rajnath Singh paying homage to former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Pokhran | Twitter handle of Rajnath Singh

Signalling a rethink on India's policy of no first use of nuclear weapons, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday declared what happens in the future depends on circumstances.

Rajnath made the comments on Twitter and in remarks to news agency ANI after paying homage to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Pokhran, India's nuclear weapons test site. Rajnath noted, "On question of nuclear policy, till today, we have a policy of no first use. What happens in future, will depend on circumstances".

Rajnath remembered Vajpayee's contribution in making a India nuclear weapons state with five nuclear tests in May 1998. "In Pokhran, India emerged as a nuclear power. Despite all restraint, Atal ji gave permission for the nuclear tests...," Rajnath remembered.

India formally announced a nuclear doctrine in 2003, which called for the establishment of a "minimum credible nuclear deterrent" and committed itself to a policy of no first use of such weapons. However, over the past decade, there have been calls to revise this commitment as Pakistan has continued to add more weapons to its nuclear arsenal, while China has modernised both its conventional and nuclear military forces.