In the UN General Assembly (UNGA), India declared that nuclear energy is crucial for meeting the challenge of climate change and suggested measures to increase its public acceptance. It has to be noted that, nuclear energy has been receiving stiff opposition and some countries even plan to phase out their nuclear power plants due to their inherent risks. Recently, India’s largest indigenously designed PHWR, KAPP-3, achieved criticality, becoming another feather to the cap of Make in India initiative.
Since conducting its second nuclear tests in 1998, India had adhered to a self-imposed commitment to “No First Use” of nuclear weapons on another country. However, on August 16th, 2019, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had hinted that in future India’s “no first use” policy “depends on circumstances”. Following this episode, the Defence Minister had effectively reduced the already bleak chances of India becoming a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. However, in the current situation, it matters very little for India as it already has the necessary benefits it needs to expand and operate its nuclear programme.
Recently, India’s first indigenous nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), INS Arihant (destroyer of enemies), has successfully completed its first deterrence patrol. It means that the submarine is fully operational now and when the signal goes out from New Delhi to INS Arihant, it should be able to launch a nuclear missile. However, experts have questioned its credibility to achieve a true nuclear triad.
The United States President Donald Trump has recently announced that US will unilaterally pull out of 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty which was signed by the US and Russia during Cold War era for banning all ground-launch nuclear missiles with the range between 500 and 5500 km. However, US accuses Russia to have developed a new medium-range missile and it has also been concerned about China which is not a signatory to the INF treaty, producing medium-range missiles.
Various experts have been demanding a revision of India’s nuclear doctrine which they claim to be not in tune with the current realities and security situations.