Last month defence minister Rajnath Singh chose Pokhran – the site of India’s nuclear tests – to suggest that the future of the country’s nuclear no first use policy would depend on changing “circumstances”. Singh’s surprise statement was apparently aimed at Pakistan after tensions escalated following the Indian government’s decision to bifurcate the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.
The statement also comes amid dissatisfaction with the no first use policy, with one critic calling it a “formula for disaster”. Opponents cite Pakistan’s battlefield nuclear weapons, which they believe offer a shield for Pakistan-based terrorism. The way out, according to this logic, would be for India to threaten pre-emptive nuclear strikes on Pakistan’s arsenal.