No First Use policy a good position to keep: Dr. Chidambaram

India’s declared No First Use (NFU) policy on nuclear weapons as part of its nuclear doctrine is a “good position” to keep, Dr. R. Chidambaram, one of India’s top nuclear scientists, said on Wednesday.

“As part of our nuclear doctrine and as a responsible country that is a good position to take and keep. If all countries in the world with nuclear weapons agree to NFU, it is equivalent to global disarmament,” said Dr. Chidambaram, former Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, who is currently the Homi Bhabha Chair Professor at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). He was speaking at the third Jasjit Singh memorial lecture organised by the Centre for Air Power Studies.

Dr. Chidambaram was a key member of the teams that carried out the country’s nuclear tests at Pokhran test range in 1974 and 1998. In the last few years there have been occasional debates in strategic circles on the need to revise the nuclear doctrine.

He said that the nuclear tests carried out by India were enough and there is no requirement to do more.

“We cleaned up our knowledge of physics during the test then, and with supercomputing and better modelling, India does not need to carry out any further tests,” he said referring to India’s declared moratorium on further nuclear tests.

In 1998, India conducted nuclear tests under Phokran-II and in 2003 declared its nuclear doctrine based on credible minimum deterrence and a NFU policy. The concept of maintaining a minimum credible deterrence and a nuclear triad for delivery of nuclear weapons based on aircraft, missiles and nuclear submarines flow from that.

Dr. Chidambaram observed that five tests were conducted in 1998 of which one was a fission device, one two-stage thermonuclear device and a sub-kilo tonne. “One of the fission devices tested was ready for 15 years. We tested storage as well. India now has all the data needed and tests are not necessary,” he added.

Describing India’s nuclear programme as “anti-fragile” Dr. Chidambaram said the more control that “established nuclear powers put on us the better we became.”

Talking of the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal, he said the most important part was the relaxation of the NSG guidelines and India now can import nuclear fuel from many countries.


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