Millennium Post

‘India keeps its options open even when Pak nukes army’

India will keep its option open for full-scale, nuclear second strike even in the case where Pakistan uses battlefield tactical nuclear weapons like nuclear projectiles and nuclear mines against the Indian forces. This was stated by the new Scientific Adviser to the defence minister, Avinash Chander, in an exclusive interview with Millennium Post, Wednesday.

Replying to a question, he said, ‘Our (nuclear deterrence) policy is ‘no first use’ (NFU). Now what defines ‘first use,’ is, of course, matter to be evaluated at the appropriate time. The National Command Authority (NCA) will evaluate as per requirement, deciding what constitutes an NFU and decision will be taken thereafter. The option is always there.’

‘What is to be seen is that to what extent the escalation will happen. That is more of a political decision-making at that appropriate time, depending upon the gravity of the situation. These policies are dynamic and situational, depending on the gravity of the situation. I don’t think that we can decide today what the situation will be at that time.’

He added, ‘There is no differentiation today at this moment between tactical and strategic nuclear weapons.’ Chander, who has also taken over as the director general of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), also did not rule out the country making tactical nuclear weapons, though he said that at the moment, no decision has been taken on their manufacture.
He seemed highly optimistic about the delivery systems of nuclear weapons that are in place in the country.

He said that Prithvi, upon its enhancing its range to 250 kms, had become a strategic nuclear missile, though it was powered by liquid propellant. ‘All the other missiles are solid propellant missiles, such as the Agni series,’ he said, being one of the key progenitors of the programme. The DG made an extra effort to make the point that though Prithvi is powered by liquid propellant, it still does not reduce its effectiveness. ‘The advantage with Prithvi is that despite the liquid propellant, it can be pumped in and left for years, without affecting any of its abilities.

In fact, there have been occasions when the liquid propellant has been filled in and left for seven-eight years,’ Chander said.
He also talked about the new ballistic missile, Prahar, which is supposed to have filled the gap for the Indian armed forces between the ranges 100-140 kms, that was not covered by Prithvi, as its minimum range is of 150 kms, although earlier Prithvi was filling that ‘gap.’ Prahar is filling the gap only in the conventional level and it is ‘solid state.’

About the nuclear weapons usage policy of the country, he said that it is a ‘contained’ nuclear weapons policy. He concluded that today’s ‘marker’ on the nuclear weapons usage is NFU and what constitutes ‘non-NFU.’ ‘Our role is to enable the government to choose options,’ he stated
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