BELLINGHAM, Alabama – The head of India’s Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is under fire for saying nuclear weapons will be used in India to tackle China’s “domestic” threats.
The NSG’s chairman, V.V. Prasad, was responding to a question about whether India’s military might was justified to use nuclear weapons in a debate with a panel of experts, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Prasad said the nuclear deterrent should be used “as a last resort”, adding that it was important for India to be able to “demonstrate its capability”.
The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, is also reportedly seeking a third term in the 2017 general election.
The panel of analysts on Monday debated whether India should be able – or even should be expected to – deploy nuclear weapons, a question that is likely to come up in the 2018 presidential election in India.
“The last resort is to use our nuclear forces,” Prasads response came as part of an exchange with the panel’s chairman Prof. J.S. Arora, who is also the former chief of Indian Navy, the countrys fifth-largest fleet.
Arora said that India should “demonstrate its capabilities”.
He said India should build up its nuclear force as it does in other areas like missile defence, which is critical to deter Chinese attacks.
“We should demonstrate that our nuclear weapons are not a last-resort,” he said.
India’s nuclear capabilities have been challenged by China since 2014, when a nuclear-armed ballistic missile was launched from the country’s eastern coast.
India has been pursuing a deterrent strategy to deter the Chinese military from a Chinese nuclear strike.
However, it has been reluctant to publicly acknowledge its nuclear arsenal and has been accused of keeping its nuclear deterrent secret from the world.
The NSB, an arm of India`s defence ministry, is responsible for ensuring India is safe from an attack and is able to protect the country from external threats.
The head of the NSG, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Dr. V.
S Srinivasan, has said India would not deploy nuclear missiles unless the country was assured they would not be used.
India and China have been locked in a tit-for-tat arms race since 2014 after India deployed the first nuclear-capable submarine, the INS Vikramaditya, in the Gulf of Aden.
China has threatened to use its navy to block Indian access to the Strait of Malacca, a crucial route for oil shipments to Europe.