by Arul Louis
New York: Reiterating its traditional policy of not using nuclear weapons first and not targeting non-nuclear weapons nations, India has offered to enter into agreements incorporating the two principles while ruling out joining the non-proliferation treaty.
“As a responsible nuclear power India has a policy of credible minimum deterrence based on a No First Use posture and non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states,” Ambassador D.B. Venkatesh Varma said Monday. “We are prepared to convert these into bilateral or multilateral legally binding arrangements.”
Varma, the Indian Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, was speaking at a meeting of the UN General Assembly Committee on Disarmament and International Peace.
While New Delhi is “unwavering in its commitment to universal, non-discriminatory, verifiable nuclear disarmament”, he said, “there is no question of India joining the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) as a non-nuclear weapon state.” That would require New Delhi unilaterally giving up its nuclear weapons.
On another matter impacting the restriction of nuclear weapons, Varma offered New Delhi’s qualified support to the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) negotiations.
“Without prejudice to the priority we attach to nuclear disarmament, we support the negotiation in the Conference on Disarmament of an FMCT that meets India’s national security interests,” he said.
Such a treaty would stop the making of materials that could be used in nuclear weapons.
Reintroducing a draft resolution on a Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons, he criticised countries with nuclear weapons coverage that have repeatedly voted against the proposed measure since it was first introduced in 1982.
Varma expressed “regret that a sizeable minority of member states – some of them nuclear weapon states, some with nuclear weapons stationed on their soil and others with alliance partnerships underwritten by policies of first use of nuclear weapons – have voted against this resolution”.
And, “for reasons that are difficult to understand, some member states which are today in the forefront of efforts to highlight the humanitarian impact of use of nuclear weapons have also voted against this resolution”.
Reflecting the concern of the international community to the dangers from terrorists, Varma said India will be introducing again a draft resolution on “measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction”.
Participating in the debate, Pakistan called for the development of an international non-proliferation system “through policies that are equitable, criteria-based and non-discriminatory”.
In what may be seen as an indirect criticism directed at India, Yasar Ammar, a third secretary in Pakistan’s UN mission, said, “There should be no exceptionalism or preferential treatment driven by motivations of power and profit.”
The US has an agreement with India on civilian cooperation in nuclear field and because New Delhi has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, it required a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), an international body that deals with trade in nuclear materials and technology.
Pakistan wants a similar agreement with the US, which has been cool to it because of Islamabad’s record of transferring nuclear technology.
India has the support of the US, Russia, Britain, and France for joining the NSG. Pakistan opposes India’s membership if it is not extended to it also.