India a ‘reluctant’ nuclear weapon state, committed to no-first-use policy: Former Indian PM

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New Delhi: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday stressed that India is a “reluctant” nuclear weapon state, adding that new proliferation risks and challenges can cause “unintended escalations”, which may up the “likelihood” of a nuclear strike.

The former Prime Minister made the statement while speaking at the book launch of Observer Research Foundation’s ‘Nuclear Order in the Twenty First Century’. The book is written by former diplomat Rakesh Sood.

Singh remarked that the annulment of some old arms control agreements are putting strain on the existing nuclear global order.

Singh, 70, said that the advancement in nuclear science and technology has made it easier to access and acquire nuclear weapons. “Many leaders are concerned that these lead to greater unpredictability and compress the time lines for decision making. It can lead to unintended escalation, increasing the likelihood of a nuclear strike, something the world has not seen since 1945,” the former prime minister said.

“Multipolarity has become a reality in the global economy but the political structures have yet to overcome the inertia of outmoded thinking, he said.

“Many countries are modernising their nuclear arsenals with tactical and low yield weapons, increasing the likelihood of their use. The goal of nuclear disarmament seems to be receding,” Singh noted.
He added that strategic thinkers are now redefining nuclear deterrence theories, which were developed to address the US-USSR Cold War rivalry, PTI reported.

Singh said that India is a “sui generis” nuclear weapon state, and it is “a reluctant nuclear weapon state, unlike others that began their nuclear quest with a military rationale”.

“India is the only country that had an extensive and advanced peaceful nuclear programme before we were compelled to shift in response to security threats and the only one that exercised nearly a quarter century of restraint after having demonstrated its technical capability. This is why we decided to base our nuclear doctrine on a credible, minimum deterrent and successive governments have also reiterated India’s commitment to a no-first-use policy,” said the former Prime Minister.

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