What is Nuclear Doctrine of India-Know about No First Use policy, Nuclear Treaties, NSG, NPT here

India believes in a universal, verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament for the elimination of nuclear weapons from around the globe. Check out the details of India's Nuclear Doctrine, its significance and where it stands on global nuclear strength here
Nuclear Doctrine Of India
Nuclear Doctrine Of India

India has time and again emphasized its opinion of No First Use of nuclear weapons. Last year in August the defence minister asserted that this policy may change the future of India and this year too at the UN Conference on Disarmament the same opinion was reiterated. 

India also said that it believes in a universal, verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament for the elimination of nuclear weapons from around the globe. 

What is Nuclear Doctrine?

A nuclear doctrine is information on how a nuclear weapon state would deploy its nuclear weapons during both peace and war. It includes all the missions that guide nuclear weapons usage.

The main goals are general deterrence, target destruction, future insurance etc. Through the nuclear doctrine, a state can communicate its intention about the usage of its arms. India, however, believes in deterrence through this and follows the policy of not attacking first. 

About Indian Nuclear Doctrine

  1. The nuclear strategy of India can be said to be retaliatory but not negative. It promotes the No First Use policy.
  2. The major aspect of the doctrine is that the 'Nuclear weapons would only be used to repress a nuclear attack in Indian territory or any part on Indian forces.'
  3. The doctrine also talks about a nuclear repressive-nuclear strike in India. It is massive and aimed at inflicting intolerable damage when required.
  4. India is free to respond massively to inflict major damage to the attacker in any case of attack. the response would be based on the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, MAD.
  5. As per the doctrine, the retaliatory attacks can only be authorised by the civilian political leadership through the Nuclear Command Authority
  6. The doctrine supports conditional usage of nuclear weapons and non-use of nuclear weapons against the non-nuclear-weapon states.
  7. The doctrine is in favour of non-proliferation and commits to disarmament to ensure a nuclear-weapon-free world. 


  1. China also has an NFU program and there is thus control on the Chinese-Indian nuclear situation.
  2. The other neighbour Pakistan however continuously tries to make prominent threats to contain India’s terrorist reaction and at the same time call for international attention.

Advantages of No First Use Policy

  1. The NFU policy eases the use of restrained nuclear weapons programmes without any tactical weapons and a complicated command and control system.
  2. The doctrine also minimises the use of nuclear material by avoiding the deployment of weapons on trigger alert. It also at the same time keeps a check on an arms-race.
  3. The doctrine helps reduce the chances of unnecessary chaos related to nuclear attacks
  4. Strict adherence to the doctrine can strengthen India’s efforts to gain membership in the Nuclear Supplier Group and United Nations Security Council, UNSC.

Nuclear Journey of India- History

The first nuclear programme of India was initiated by Homi J Bhabha in the late 1940s. It was from 1947 to 1974 that India worked towards a peaceful Nuclear programme. 

The first PM Jawaharlal Nehru was against nuclear weapons but he launched the nuclear programme to boost the country's self-reliance in producing electricity that can be reachable to all.  He, therefore, pleaded with the superpowers for comprehensive nuclear disarmament, but in vain.

When Communist nation China conducted the nuclear tests in October 1964, the five nuclear powers (US, USSR, UK, France, and China) also the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council had tried to impose the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968 on the rest of the world.

Later from 1974 to 1998, India moved towards weaponization. The first nuclear explosion was undertaken by India in May 1974. It was argued that the test was conducted only for peaceful purposes. India then stood in opposition to the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995 and also refused to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Our country also conducted a series of nuclear tests in May 1998 which was followed by Pakistan conducting its tests. The doctrine of No First Use was formally adopted in January 2003, and India maintains that the nuclear weapons would only be used in retaliation against a nuclear attack on Indian territory or Indian forces anywhere in the world.

India's stand on Global Nuclear Discourse

  1. India is up for nuclear disarmament and supports the adoption of a non-discriminatory and verifiable process to lead to this disarmament. 
  2. India although not a signatory to CTBT, has a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing. It supports negotiations for fissile material to cut off the treaty. 
  3. India has also not joined NPT as it believes that nuclear weapons are an integral part of its security systems. It has also opposed the enforcement of treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons on grounds of not being a comprehensive disarmament instrument 
  4. India also has a facility-specific safeguards agreement with IAEA and has been waived off from NSG group thus participating openly with nuclear cooperation agreements with other countries. 

What is NPT

  1. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed in 1968 and came into force in 1970. It now has 190 countries as its members. 
  2. The treaty requires countries to give up their plans to build nuclear weapons in return for access to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
  3. The main objectives of the treaty are non-proliferation, disarmament, and the right to peacefully use nuclear technology.
  4. India is one of the only five countries that are not a signatory to NPT or had signed but withdrew later. The list also includes Pakistan, Israel, North Korea, and South Sudan. India's view of NPT is that it is discriminatory.
  5. India has always opposed international treaties promoting non-proliferation. The reason is that they were selectively applicable to the non-nuclear powers and legitimised the monopoly of the five nuclear weapons powers.

What is MECR?

MECR is a voluntary and non-binding agreement that has been formed by major supplier countries to prevent and regulate the transfer of military and dual-use technology. It aims at preventing the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and is independent of the United Nations. The four main regimes under it are the Nuclear Suppliers Group Australia Group, Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and Wassenaar Arrangement.

What is the Nuclear Supplier Group, NSG?

The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a group of countries that supply nuclear material and seek to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. They wish for the implementation of two sets of Guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports. There is a Trigger List and items from the list are forbidden to be exported to Non-NPT member countries.

India is responsible for the establishment of NSG as it came into being as a response to the 1974 nuclear tests conducted by India. It has 48 participating governments. China is a member of the NSG but not of the Wassenaar Arrangement or the MTCR.

India's Nuclear Doctrine- Way Forward

India’s stand on nuclear energy and its use has been very positive and determined. It should however at all times ensure that the doctrine is in synchronization with its foreign policy, it increases flexibility on massive retaliation commitment and is dedicated to its defence technology programmes. 

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