As Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned home on Sunday night after wrapping up his five-day three-nation tour of Belgium, the US and Saudi Arabia, India strongly criticised US President Barrack Obama for clubbing India with neighbouring Pakistan on nuclear security issue.

Senior spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Vikas Swarup said it was unfortunate that President Obama clubbed India with Pakistan as a challenge for global nuclear security. He said on Monday that the US president’s remarks during the recently held Nuclear Security Summit stemmed from a lack of understanding of India’s defence posture.

According to Swarup, India, which has never initiated military action against any neighbour, adopted the “no first use” nuclear weapons policy in 2003. The spokesperson claimed that India’s nuclear arsenals have so far posed no danger to the international community due to this policy. He told the press that President Obama had made such a comment without considering India’s track record of no-proliferation.

“Since the context was the Nuclear Security Summit, the president’s own remark that ‘expanding nuclear arsenals in some countries, with more small tactical nuclear weapons which could be at greater risk of theft’ sums up the focus of global concern,” stressed Swarup.

The senior Indian official argued that if the US and Russia could rebuild their nuclear arsenals, then India, too, has the right to boost its arsenal in order to maintain a balance of power in Asia. Swarup once again urged the global community to understand the geo-political landscape of Asia, saying that India is living in a dangerous neighbourhood. According to the MEA spokesperson, India is the only country in the world that lives with two nuclear powerful neighbours (Pakistan and China).

Unlike Pakistan, China has adopted the “no first use” policy. While adopting the policy in 1964, China had stated that it would “not be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances”. Beijing reiterated this policy later in 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2011. However, some Chinese statements have cast doubts on whether the “no first use” pledge will apply to states, like India, which possess nuclear weapons. In such a situation, India has no other option, but to modernise its nuclear weapons.

Speaking at the Nuclear Security Summit last week, President Obama said: “The area where I think we need to see progress is Pakistan and India. These two countries will have to develop military doctrines. India and Pakistan should ensure that they are not continually moving in the wrong direction.”

At the same time, the American president admitted that the US and Russia should cut their nuclear arsenals, saying: “One of the challenges that we’re going to have here is that it is very difficult to see huge reductions in our nuclear arsenal unless the US and Russia, as the two largest possessors of nuclear weapons, are prepared to lead the way.”

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]