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|July 28, 1998||
'India should commit to a unilateral no-first use pledge'
India should be willing to negotiate its accession to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, provided all ''negative effects'' of the Pokhran nuclear tests are removed and it is treated at par with other nuclear weapons states for purposes of access to nuclear technology and materials, feels defence expert retired Air Commodore Jasjit Singh.
India should also commit to a unilateral no-first use pledge and to non-use against a non-nuclear weapons state, whether it is a party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or not, says Air Commodore Singh says in a new book titled Nuclear India.
According to Air Commodore Singh, the book is an attempt to examine and assess the Indian decision to go nuclear in a more objective and dispassionate manner, so as to define future policy formulations on the subject.
Air Commodore Singh says India's nuclear strategy should be predicated on a combination of steps, both in terms of defence planning as well as diplomacy, to pursue Indian interests in consonance with its priorities. The other broad parameters of India's nuclear policy for the future should also include pursuing global nuclear disarmament with renewed vigour, though without the necessity of demanding its achievement in a time-bound framework. Instead, India should seek the conclusion (within a defined time-frame) of a non-discriminatory, verifiable global treaty to abolish nuclear weapons.
The other parameters of the nuclear policy identified by Air Commodore Singh are:
* Maintain a recessed deterrence capability and posture, linked to the threat environment. If and when the environment starts to demand a physical availability of nuclear weapons, raise the capability to an overt status up to a maximum of minimum deterrence capability.
* Ensure that all wherewithal to assemble operationally nuclear warheads within the shortest possible time is available.
* Expedite the development and deployment of mobile ballistic missiles with ranges extending from 150 to 5,000 kilometres. This would require carrying out two to three dozen tests of the IRBM during the next five years, and deployment of up to 50 Prithvi SS 150/250 missiles to remove minor glitches.
* Maintain the moratorium on testing, but make it clear that if any of the weapons states carry out a nuclear test (explosive or non-explosive), we will be free to exercise our sovereign right to carry out a test. We should also be prepared to undertake tests if there is a serious degradation in the security environment (and the supreme national interest is involved).
The book, written by 10 Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses scholars and a former IDSA director after the nuclear tests in May, examines the nuclear weapons environment, the logic and process of India's nuclear policy and debates the steps ahead in relation to doctrine, diplomacy and strategy. The book has been edited by Air Commodore Singh, currently the IDSA director.
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