|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
PM's proposals for N-disarmament
June 09, 2008 12:20 IST
Last Updated: June 09, 2008 15:14 IST
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] on Monday mooted a set of seven proposals for achieving global nuclear disarmament and helping countries like India to make use of nuclear energy to meet their goals of national development and energy security.
The proposals were also aimed at checking the growing risk of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists or those driven by extremist ideologies and dealing with the increasing danger of non-state actors accessing nuclear materials and devices.
Dr Singh, who made the proposals in his inaugural address at an International Conference on 'Towards a World Free of Nuclear Weapons', said the development of new weapon systems based on emerging technologies posed challenges to space security and provided new roles for nuclear weapons.
Also, the threat of climate change and global warming itself raised a range of security concerns, especially for India and others in the developing world, he said.
Ruling out the feasibility of "regionalising" nuclear disarmament, he said India's proposals would result in non-discriminatory and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons within a timeframe and offer wider options of energy sources for India and other developing nations.
Pointing out that India had witnessed rapid economic growth in the last few years and was poised for even higher growth rates in the future, he said the country would need a peaceful international environment so that "we can focus our resources on improving the lives of our people. We seek a world in which power flows through the empowerment of people, and from the strength and resilience of our economy, our society, our institutions and our values."
Among his suggestions were reaffirmation of the unequivocal commitment of all nuclear weapon states to the goal of complete elimination of nuclear weapons and reduction of the salience of nuclear weapons in security doctrines.
The prime minister also wanted adoption of measures by nuclear weapon states to reduce nuclear danger, including the risks of accidental use of nuclear weapons.
There was need for negotiation:
Of a global agreement among nuclear weapon states on no-first-use of nuclear weapons; of a universal and legally-binding agreement on non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states of a convention on the complete prohibition of the use of or threat of use of nuclear weapons; and of a nuclear weapons convention prohibiting the development, production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons and on their destruction, leading to the global, non-discriminatory and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons with a specified timeframe.
India was ready to add its own weight and voice to the global debate on nuclear disarmament with a view to crafting such a consensus on disarmament and non-proliferation.
"We need a collective approach anchored in a universal partnership that is supported by non-governmental communities and public opinion," the prime minister added.
Dr Singh said that 20 years ago, on this day, the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi addressed the Third Special Session on Disarmament of the UN General Assembly.
Speaking on the theme of 'A World Free of Nuclear Weapons,' Gandhi introduced an Action Plan calling on the international community to negotiate a binding agreement on general and complete disarmament. At the heart of the action plan was a commitment to eliminate all nuclear weapons in three stages by 2010.
The prime minister said a review of developments since 1988 presented a mixed picture on how far the world had moved to realise the vision of Rajiv Gandhi.
On the one hand, the end of the Cold War had created an opportunity for the world to move away from the dangerous doctrines that were based on the precept of Mutually Assured Destruction.
On the other hand, the painful reality was that the goal of global disarmament, based on the principles of universality, non-discrimination and effective compliance, still remained a distant one.
Even more disturbing, however, was the emergence of new threats and challenges to global security.
He said India's energy needs would continue to rise in the foreseeable future. "We do not have the luxury of limiting our options of energy sources. We therefore wish to create an international environment in which nuclear technology is used not for destructive purposes but for helping us meet our national development goals and our energy security," Dr Singh said.
India was fully aware of its responsibilities as a nuclear weapon state. It had a declared doctrine of no first-use that was based on credible minimum deterrence and had in place strict controls on export of nuclear and fissile related materials and technology.
New Delhi had no intention to engage in an arms race with anyone. Above all, it was fully committed to nuclear disarmament that was global, universal and non-discriminatory in nature. The pursuit of this goal would enhance not "only our security but the security of all other countries," he added.