Nukes only for strategic purposes: Army chief

V K Singh has said the nuclear weapons are not meant for war fighting

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: January 16, 2012 3:12 am

Even as Pakistan has gone ahead to develop its tactical nuclear missile programme with multiple tests being held last year,India has once again reiterated the stance that its nuclear weapons are meant only to give the nation a strategic capability.

Army chief General V K Singh has said the nuclear weapons are not meant for war fighting. “Let us be quite clear that nuclear weapons are not for war fighting. They have got a strategic capability and that is where it should end,” Singh said on the sidelines of the Army Day Parade here on Sunday in response to queries on reports of China and Pakistan strengthening their nuclear weapons programme.

The general said the Army has its role cut out regardless of what kind of nuclear weapons are available with neighbouring nations. “We are not bothered about who has nuclear weapons,we have our task set and will progress along that,” he said.

The comments come after concern around the globe that Pakistan is strengthening its tactical nuclear missile programme with multiple tests of the 60-km range NASR surface-to-surface missile that is capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

While Pakistan has justified the development of a low yield nuclear weapon to the so called ‘Cold Start’ policy — a quick blitzkrieg across the border without any warning — that the Indian Army has,General Singh has in the past dismissed that it has any such doctrine.

India’s nuclear policy,New Delhi has made clear on several occasions,is based on the ‘no first use principle’ but any nuclear attack — tactical or not — would be met with full-scale retaliation.

Adding to the concerns of a tactical nuclear weapons programme by Pakistan are recent reports that Islamabad currently has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world and could possess 200 warheads in a decade at the current rate. Estimates drawn up in a recent report by US nuclear weapons experts Hans M Kristensen and Robert S Norris indicated that Pakistan already has a stockpile of around 100 warheads,marginally more than India that has 80-100 nuclear weapons.

‘Age issue should be allowed to rest’

Downplaying the controversy surrounding his correct age,Army chief General V K Singh has said the issue should be allowed to rest and not become a matter of public debate. He also said he “appreciates” the confidence in his ability to lead the organisation that was expressed by Defence Minister A K Antony. “I have said this is an issue that should be allowed to rest,and not become public debate. So there is no requirement to give it any spin,or to give it any more wings than what it actually is,” the Army chief said.

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