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|September 3, 1998||
NAM steers clear of India's nuclear tests, calls for global elimination of N-weapons
The 12th Non-Aligned Movement summit today endorsed India's initiative by adopting a broad approach for total elimination of nuclear weapons from earth in its declaration.
The declaration by the 113-member NAM, however, skipped condemning the nuclear tests by New Delhi and Islamabad in May this year despite strong insistence from South Africa, Indonesia and several other countries on this count.
Protracted deliberations on the nuclear question stretching for more than four days ultimately ended by accepting the ''positive commitment'' made by the two countries that they would exercise utmost restraint on nuclear issues in the South Asian region.
The two countries also conveyed to NAM that they would adhere to important provisions of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, although both of them have not signed it.
There was heated debate between Indian representatives and their South African counterparts in the political sub-committee on nuclear disarmament on the adoption of NAM's position on nuclear proliferation.
The declaration, while noting the complexity arising out of nuclear tests in the South Asian region have ''considered the positive commitment'' by parties concerned to exercise restraint in the region.
It also stressed the need for bilateral dialogue to secure peaceful solution to all outstanding issues and promotion of confidence-building in the security-related issues.
Indian representatives proposed a global nuclear convention for arriving at agreements on time-bound programme for elimination of nuclear weapons. This proposal was widely welcomed by member countries.
However, South Africa, which is hosting the NAM summit, was very critical of the nuclear tests, stating that it has triggered an arms race in the region. South Africa is also of the opinion that it has weakened NAM's stand on nuclear disarmament and can embolden other countries to enter into a nuclear race.
Indian sources while expressing satisfaction on the NAM declaration on the nuclear issue said there has been general understanding of India's compulsions to undertake the tests.
There was a general opinion among the member countries that although nuclear tests are something which no one can appreciate or approve but the movement cannot take rigid position on nuclear explosions in South Asia.
The Indian proposal for the global nuclear convention envisaged a time-bound programme to eliminate all nuclear weapons and to prohibit their production, acquisition and use could be formulated before the end of the century.
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in his speech said India's recent nuclear test took place in a geo-political environment where the country's security was becoming even more threatened by the overt and covert nuclearisation of our neighbourhood.
''We do not, however, believe now, any more than ever did before, that nuclear weapons states agree to negotiations to abolish nuclear weapons, we will be the first to join the movement in negotiating a nuclear weapons convention, through which we can eliminate this last category of weapons of mass destruction,'' he stated.
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