`No first use` nuke policy to continue: Krishna

Government made it clear that there will be no revision of the country`s no-first-use nuclear doctrine and said minimum credible deterrence would be maintained in view of threats and challenges.

Updated: Mar 16, 2011, 18:12 PM IST

New Delhi: Government on Wednesday made it clear
that there will be no revision of the country`s no-first-use
nuclear doctrine and said minimum credible deterrence would be
maintained in view of threats and challenges.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna told the Lok
Sabha that the government is working to improve relations with
immediate neighbours, including Pakistan and China, as also
with other countries like the US and Russia.

In his hour-long reply to a debate on the Demands for
Grants of his Ministry, he dwelt on various aspects of foreign
policy and rejected the notion that India was getting isolated
or was a "by-stander" in world affairs, including the evolving
situation in West Asia. The Demands were later passed by a
voice vote.

He spent some time in praising former External Affairs
Minister Jaswant Singh and responded to the points raised by
the senior BJP leader yesterday, including the suggestion for
revising the no-first-use doctrine in the nuclear policy.

"Government remains committed in taking effective
steps to strengthen India`s defence and to maintain credible
minimum nuclear deterrence," Krishna said referring to some
members` concern over Pakistan`s growing nuclear arsenal.

"On nuclear doctrine, I would only like to say that
there is no change in our policy. We are committed to
universal, non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament and we
remain firm on the commitment," he said.

Yesterday, Jaswant Singh had advocated the need for
revising the no-first-use policy, framed by his own NDA
government, citing changes in the global scenario including a
growing nuclear arsenal of Pakistan.

Turning to relations with Pakistan, Krishna said India
was pursuing a path of dialogue to reduce the trust deficit
and resolve all outstanding issues in the spirit of openness
and with the hope that "we can build a better future for the
peoples of both countries".

At the same time, India has "never abandoned" its
concern and the need to eliminate cross-border terrorism and
to put an end to activities of terrorists and terror groups
which have "negative and destructive agendas for our nation
and which is not in the best interests of our relations".

In a veiled reference to Pakistan, Krishna said "those
countries which provide space for terrorism to grow and space
for terror camps to be set up are deeply regretting having
done so" as there are "explosions every day".

Turning to China, he said India had conveyed its
concerns over its practice of issuing stapled visas to people
from Jammu and Kashmir and has got assurance that "it is their
intention to solve the problem to our satisfaction"
Noting that this had "generated differences" between
the two countries, he said India expected that China would
implement its assurance.

Krishna steered clear of any response to queries put
forth by RJD chief Lalu Prasad who wanted to know what the
government was doing to regain "thousands of acres of land
under Chinese occupation".

Instead, he said, the government has accorded high
priority to construction of infrastructure, including roads,
on the India-China border as a "matter of strategic interest".

The External Affairs Minister said the Border Roads
Organisation (BRO) is constructing 61 roads whose total
length is 3,429 kms and covers states like Jammu and Kashmir,
Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

Work has been completed on 14 roads while 32 roads are
projected to be completed by 2012 and nine by 2013, he said.

With regard to the US, Krishna said India`s relations
are improving as part of the multi-sectoral strategic
dialogue.

He said the next round of Strategic Dialogue, to be
held here next month, was postponed by two months because of
certain "difficulties" on both sides.

Responding to concerns over the fate of some students
duped by the Tri Valley University in the US and 18 of them
being radio-tagged later, he said the matter has been taken up
with the American administration which has been asked to
respect their privileges besides "religious and cultural
sensitivities".

He said India has asked the US to ensure that such
incidents are avoided in future.

Giving details of the matter, Krishna said radio tags
of 17 Indian students have been removed and denied that anyone
is in jail.

He said a Federal inquiry is on into the bogus
university and a process is underway to shift the affected
students to other universities.

Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj observed the
Minister was giving an impression of all being well with
regard to the Tri Valley University issue but it was not the
case.

Responding, Krishna noted that there are one lakh Indian
students in the US and the Tri Valley University issue is a
"ticklish" one to which efforts are being made to find a
solution.

"It will take time... We are dealing with a sovereign
country of the US.... These are problems which have to be
resolved," he said.

He rejected the contention that India was acting as an
"opportunist" when it comes to relations with Russia and said
the ties with the time-tested friend continued to improve.

PTI