NEW DELHI: Just as Modi arrived in Japan with the agenda of inking a civilian nuclear deal with the country, his defence marksman Manohar Parrikar poured out his ‘feelings’ on India’s ‘no first use’ policy on nuclear warfare. “Why cannot India say we are a responsible nuclear power and that we will not use it irresponsibly instead of affirming to a no first-use policy,” he asked. Parrikar was, however, quick to add that it was his personal sentiment and that it did not reflect the views of the government on the matter.
No first use (NFU) is a policy by India to not use nuclear weapons unless it is first attacked using similar weapons. India and China are the only major countries in the world to have such a policy. India’s NFU policy was formulated in 2003 under the Vajpayee government, much after the nuclear weapons test of 1998. In fact, Japan had imposed sanctions on India after the 1998 tests.
The minister and defence ministry spokesperson Nitin Wakankar later clarified that the comments were his personal opinion, and did not reflect government policy. However, this failed to satisfy his critics. “If the Defence Minister wants to speak in his personal capacity, he should resign from the government,” tweeted CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury. The Indo-Japan nuclear deal that is to be signed shortly includes a clause for exit by Japan if India conducts a nuclear test.