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June 11, 1998


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India will not sign any treaty under duress, stresses Jaswant Singh

India, one of the world's newest nuclear powers, says it will not sign any treaty under duress.

''We cannot subscribe to a treaty when we have a gun placed at our head,'' says Jaswant Singh, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission.

Singh says India continues to believe in nuclear non- proliferation and nuclear disarmament despite its recent underground tests.

''The Comprehensive nuclear Test Ban Treaty, however, was not a disarmament treaty and did not sufficiently address the principles of non-proliferation,'' he told reporters on Tuesday night.

He believes there is a need for the international community to address the problem of nuclear non-proliferation and ''India is ready to engage in serious, purposeful discussions in this regard. We have already volunteered a moratorium on future tests,'' he said.

Singh, described by Newsweek last week as the ''architect of India's nuclear strategy'', has been in New York to address the UN special session on the world drug problem.

He says the new reality of global non-proliferation should really be addressed by the five permanent members of the Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia. Until the nuclear tests by both India and Pakistan last month, the ''big five'' were the world's only declared nuclear powers.

In April, Britain and France became the world's only two major nuclear powers to ratify the CTBT which outlaws all nuclear explosions worldwide. As of last week, 149 of the UN's 185 member states have signed the treaty, but it has been ratified by just 13 nations. The treaty will come into force only when it is ratified by 44 named states that possess nuclear power and research reactors.

The 44 states that participated in negotiations on the CTBT in the UN Conference on Disarmament two-and-a-half years ago, include Israel -- and also India, Pakistan and North Korea who have neither signed nor ratified the treaty.

US President Bill Clinton on several occasions has appealed to the Republican-dominated Senate to ratify the treaty which has been held up in the legislature. In September 1996, the General Assembly adopted the CTBT resolution by a vote of 158 in favour to three against (Bhutan, India and Libya), with five abstentions (Cuba, Lebanon, Mauritius, Syria and Tanzania).

Most developing nations, including India, argue that the CTBT is less than comprehensive, as it keeps open the options for other kinds of computer testing of nuclear weapons.

India has pointed out that even though the CTBT bans nuclear testing, technologies relating to sub-critical testing, advanced computer simulations using extensive data from previous explosive testing, and weapons related application of laser ignition could open the way to fourth generation nuclear weapons even without explosive testing.

The CTBT should have banned not only test explosions but also all nuclear tests that could lead to the development and upgrading of existing nuclear weapons, India says.

In an interview with Newsweek, Singh says the entire non-proliferation regime is flawed. ''It is because the West arrogates to itself the right (to decide) that the security of some is important (while) the security of others is not, that the present situation has come about.''

Besides the voluntary moratorium, Singh says India is ready to engage in discussions on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty and it has already subscribed to the chemical weapons convention. ''We have announced no first-use and are ready to talk, not necessarily with Pakistan, but with others, bilaterally or multilaterally.''

Singh told reporters in New York that most nations of the world today are beneficiaries of a nuclear security paradigm in which much of the world is covered, formally or informally, by a nuclear umbrella provided by key nuclear weapon powers.

South Korea, Japan and Australia have the benefit of US-extended deterrence. By itself, China is a major nuclear weapon power. Even countries without the nuclear and security anxieties that India faces, benefit from the ''extended deterrence'' provided by recognised nuclear powers, he says.

Only Africa and southern Asia remain outside the exclusivity of this new international nuclear paradigm where nuclear weapons, and their use as 'currency' in international conduct, is paradoxically, actually legitimised. ''India, however, cannot accept differentiated standards of national security or a regime of international nuclear apartheid,'' Singh said.

He appealed to the international community, particularly to the nuclear weapon powers and all other major powers ''that derive their security through nuclear deterrent protection extended to them, to join us in re-examining the present international security regime.''

''We must find ways and means of moving towards the goal of global nuclear disarmament, by progression, step by step,'' he says.


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