Why does India have a “no-first-use” policy for nuclear weapons? Shouldn’t India strike before the damage is done, how practical is this …

Why does India have a "no-first-use" policy for nuclear weapons? Shouldn't India strike before the damage is done, how practical is this policy?

Answer by Diniel Patel:

Let us first take a look at which countries possess Nuclear weapons.

The following being nations that developed their own weapons before the NPT- Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (to stop nuclear technology/weapons going into hands of unstable nations)
1. USA
2. Russia
3. UK
4. China.
5. France.

These are who developed it themselves (or with help of one from above) after NPT came into being.
6. India. (may be with help from USSR/Russia or indigenous)
7. Pakistan. (may be with help from  USA/China or indigenous)

These are nations that have nuclear weapons for storage and deployment.
8. NATO nations of Germany, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands and Turkey; a gift from the USA.

Now to the question as to why does India have a 'No first use' (henceforth referred to as NFU) policy.

India as a country identifies itself as a champion of non-invasion, non-expansion and as someone who is not interested in gaining terrritories of its neighbors.

After a bitter loss to China in the war in 1962, followed by China declaring it has developed nuclear weapons (for use against India/Tibet/Japan who knows) of its own, India felt the need to be able to defend itself in such a scenario as a deterrant against the Chinese expansionalist ideas. That if China tried to annex a part of India, India should not- not be able to defend itself and hence India went after developing its own nuclear weapons which would negative the upper hand that China would have if Indians and Chinese went on an all out war (doesn't matter who or what initiated it).

Pakistan for the same reason, to act as a deterrant against India developed itself into a nuclear weapons powered state.

Nuclear weapons when used against another nuclear weapon powered nation during a war is a case of mutually assured destruction. Which is the case between USA and USSR during the Cold War. The US and USSR fought many proxy wars by supplying arms and personnel in various Asian countries viz Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan etc.

With India being a country that promotes and envisions the idea of world peace, it is almost impossible to imagine India ever attacking another country. Which is also the case because of the foundations on which our country is based; Non violence etc.

Now the second part of your question is a key to answering the first one. Who is India's enemy? Or who threatens the soverignity of the Indian nation? Which countries has India already been in war with? Which countries would a lot of media/journalists would have you believe India may be in a war with in the future? Any unstable states with internal conflicts, repressive militaries or dictatorships around India?

Lets make a common list of all the countries which satify above questions. Aka a list of India's geographical neighbors.

  • China

– India lost to the one war fought.
– Expansionist
– Issue of Tibet leads to lot of Tibetean refugees in India.
– Has territorial disputes in North east part of India; the state of Arunachal Pradesh. And in Kashmir. All chinese maps show both as a part of China.

  • Pakistan

-India won both wars.
-Many in Pakistan harbor hatred for India for what happened during the ethnic partition and murder of Muslims and Hindus and people of other religious sects who were migrating across the newly formed border
– Problem of Kashmir which some politicians want to be a part of Pakistan.
– Territorial dispute in Kashmir, Pakistani maps show them to be a part of Pakistan (some go on to show whole of Kashmir as a part of itself, *saw them couple years ago, cant find the link*)
– Lot of terror outfits which identify India as their enemy.
– Lack of initiation and proactiveness of the Pakistan govt/army/intelligence to eradicate its landmass of these terror outfits.

  • Bangladesh

-although like a little brother to India but has refugee issue until today
-many folks in Bangladesh believe India did not help it in ways they wanted/needed help after it's independence.

  • Burma

-repressive military, one of the worst Human Rights counts if many sources are to be believed
– Could end up as a source of more terror outfits
– could be a source of more refugees running into India.

  • Sri Lanka

-LTTE being a terror/freedom outfit wanting India-SriLankan Tamils' own country.

  • Nepal

-no major issues

  • Bhutan

-no major issues

  • Afghanistan

– State under turmoil with Al Qaeda and many other terror outfits operating from there
– Traditionally India and Afghanistan are/were friends, although India did not align with either USSR or USA in the cold war era, India was close to Russia because US Presidents harbored a hatred for India and helped Pakistan with weapons and other tech. Which led India to look for help towards USSR (which had its presence in Afghanistan).

When you see the list, India has been at and all-out war with 2 of its neighbors. China and Pakistan. Both have their nuclear weapons. Against them, India says we will not use out nuclear weapons until you do, because it is mutually assured destruction of both countries that use these weapons.

If India were to use it against one of them, the country not fighting will end up supporting the country India bombs with its nuclear warheads. It is also highly possible that the other country (top 5, USA, Russia, France, NATO, UK) will end up supporting the one which was attacked. Which would end up in India declaring a cease fire, because the Indian armed forces, although has the 3rd largest number of active personnel it does not possess the latest of gadgest and technology to be a highly feared one, may not be a match for that of USA (forget all the others combined- most will do as the US will tell them to do).

Against the other nations surrounding India, their armies are too small to damage India during a war to the extent that India is on its back and has to threaten the use of its nuclear weapons against them. (kind of what US did to Imperial Japan, except US never warned Japan. It was kaboom, knock-knock, surprise).

You might know that the Indian armed forces are primarily to defend its soverignity and landmass from external and internal forces. To go on to a policy which says, we will use our nuclear weapons on you when we see fit to do so, does not really promote the idea of India being a country that loves peace and promotes it.

So you see, India has nothing to gain and everything to lose by being someone who uses its nuclear arsenal first up in a preemptive attack. Being a third world (too crude?) aka a developing country, we need all the cooperation and support we can get from the other nations irrespective of where they are on the face of this earth. Not to say, we do not have the skills to develop indigenously, we do, but with support it will be better and quicker for most part of the process of progress.

Any questions? I am not an expert but will try to give my view on this.

**Feel free to suggest edits of spelling ( I am using a german keyboard and I know there will be errors). Thanks in advance for suggesting them.

Thanks for the A2a George AK

Why does India have a "no-first-use" policy for nuclear weapons? Shouldn't India strike before the damage is done, how practical is this …


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