India's defence minister recently suggested that the country may re-evaluate its "no first use of nuclear weapons" doctrine, raising the stakes at a time of high tension with its nuclear-armed neighbour Pakistan. Analysts Christopher O'Clary and Vipin Narang examine the implications for peace and security in South Asia.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh recently reaffirmed a long-standing tenet of India's nuclear weapons doctrine: that it would not be the first to use the devastating weapons in a conflict. But he subsequently questioned how much longer that commitment would remain. He told the media that while India had "strictly adhered to" the doctrine thus far "what happens in future depends on the circumstances".
He was signalling that India's "no first use" commitment is neither absolute nor permanent, and implying that in a conflict, nothing would compel India to abide by it. His statement came after India revoked the special constitutional status of the part of Kashmir it controls - prompting a furious reaction from Pakistan, which, like India, claims the entire territory.