Tuesday, August 17, 1999 Published at 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
World: South Asia
India stands firm on nuclear deterrence
India says nuclear weapons are an "inalienable right"
India has defended its right to a nuclear deterrence in a tough new statement.
India's National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) has released a nuclear doctrine which says the country will pursue a policy of a credible minimum nuclear deterrence based on aircraft, ships and mobile land-based missiles.
"India will strenuously guard this right in a world where nuclear weapons for a select few are sought to be legitimised for an indefinite future."
Brajesh Mishra, national security adviser to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, said India "should remain in a position to retaliate if nuclear weapons are used against us".
India tested a series of nuclear devices in May last year, triggering a tit-for-tat response from Pakistan and US-led international sanctions.
But India argues that accords like the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty are biased in favour of the five recognised nuclear powers - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.
The authority to release nuclear weapons will reside with the prime minister of the day.
"This is a draft...It will have to wait for a new government," Mr Mishra said, adding the draft was being made public to encourage a debate.
The BBC's David Chazan, reporting from Delhi, says the timing of the announcement - just three weeks before elections begin - may be aimed at reinforcing the view that under a BJP-led government, India has established its credentials as a strong nuclear power.
Continuing border skirmishes are raising concerns in the US that the two new nuclear powers may be marching toward a more serious confrontation.
"Some would say there's a pool of gasoline lying on the ground looking for a match," said Senator Sam Brownback, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs.
The Clinton administration is searching for ways to help defuse the situation, but so far has kept mostly on the sidelines.