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India’n Defence Minister hints at changing ‘no first use’ nuclear policy

NEW DELHI: India has stuck to its commitment of ‘no first use’ of nuclear weapons but future policy will depend on the situation, the defence minister said on Friday, which analysts said introduced a level of ambiguity in a core national security doctrine.

India had declared itself a nuclear power after conducting underground tests in 1998 and Pakistan responded with its own tests shortly afterwards. Since then, nuclear experts say the rivals have been developing nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them.

In a visit to Pokhran in western India, the site of the nuclear tests, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh paid tribute to late former prime minister and revered leader of the ruling Hindu nationalists, Atal Behari Vajpayee, for making India into a nuclear power.

“Pokhran is the area which witnessed Atal Ji’s firm resolve to make India a nuclear power and yet remain firmly committed to the doctrine of No First Use.

“India has strictly adhered to this doctrine. What happens in future depends on the circumstances.”

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