Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday said he believed India should not bind itself to a policy of not using nuclear weapons first. “A lot of people say India has a no-first-use nuclear policy, but why should I bind myself? I should say I’m a responsible nuclear power, and I will not use it irresponsibly,” he said at a book release.

A country risked giving away information on its “strength in nuclear [weapons] if it completely followed a particular strategy”, the defence minister said. A “written strategy” is a guideline, but the idea of being unpredictable had to be included in any such strategy, Parrikar said.

Minutes after his statement a spokesperson for the Defence Ministry emphasised that Parrikar’s stand was his personal opinion and not the “official position”. India is a “responsible power” and thus, does not need to get into a debate on the first use of nuclear weapons, the spokesperson added.

Parrikar noted that India had not received any threats of nuclear war in any way following the Army’s surgical strikes on September 29 along the Line of Control with Pakistan, even though a “neighbouring country” used to threaten the nation with tactical nuclear weapons.

Moreover, the Union minister also claimed that a number of politicians were worried by the government’s move to discontinue the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. He added that polls in the country were likely to be affected by the Centre’s move to demonetise the currency denominations. His statement comes amid criticism from Opposition parties over the Centre’s decision, even as the Bharatiya Janata Party has welcomed the move, aimed at ushering in a cashless economy as well as tackle black money and the circulation of fake notes.