Opening Remarks by National Security Adviser Mr. Brajesh Mishra at the Release of Draft Indian Nuclear Doctrine August 17, 1999

Ladies & Gentlemen,

I am happy to present to you the draft of the Nuclear Doctrine prepared by the National Security Board. A copy has been placed in each of the seats in the hall. We have decided to make this document public in keeping with our position in favour of greater transparency in decision-making. Please note that this is a draft proposed by the NSAB and has not yet been approved by the Government. That will have to wait until after the general elections.

As our thinking on the nuclear tests has been fairly well publicised, I do not intend to go over the ground again. Suffice it to say that this was a step necessitated by the security environment and our need to ensure for ourselves the element of strategic autonomy in decision making which we will need in the coming years. Our position has all along been that global security would be enhanced by the universal elimination of all nuclear weapons, and this remains our conviction today. Unfortunately, the indefinite extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1995 was in the reverse direction.

Our nuclear weapons are not country-specific but, as I mentioned earlier, are aimed at providing us the autonomy of exercising strategic choices in the best interest of our country, without fear or coercion in a nuclearised environment. That being so, we have adopted a policy of minimum deterrence as the basic building block of our nuclear thinking. Minimum but credible deterrence is the watchword of our nuclear doctrine. From this, flows the decision to adopt a no-first-use posture. We have therefore given unconditional guarantees to States that do not have nuclear weapons, or are not aligned with nuclear weapon powers.

A cardinal principle regarding the use of nuclear weapons is that of civilian control. Only the elected civilian leader of the country is empowered to authorise the use of nuclear weapons. As the recent operations in Kargil have demonstrated, our system and the political leadership, believe with great responsibility and restraint, as you would expect from the largest democracy in the world. This sense of responsibility will also guide our actions with regard to nuclear weapons.

With these words, I have great pleasure in releasing the document for public discussion and debate.

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