Statement by Ambassador Savitri Kunadi in the Plenary Meeting of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, 6 August
Mr. President, on June 11, 1998 Ambassador Norberg of Sweden had presented in the CD Plenary, on behalf of the delegations of Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa and Sweden, the Joint Declaration "Towards a Nuclear-weapon Free World : The Need or a New Agenda" issued on June 9, 1998. India noted that the declaration contains a number of valuable suggestions which deserve consideration by the international community. The Minister of State for External Affairs of India, Mrs Vasundhara Raje, on June 16, 1998, wrote separate letters to the Foreign Ministers of these eight countries expressing India's readiness to co-operate with them in collective efforts for the establishment of nuclear-weapon free world.
The Joint Declaration is a timely reminder that in spite of nearly 100 resolutions of the UN General Assembly reflecting the will of the international community, decisive steps for creating a nuclear weapon free world have still not been taken. In her letter the Minister of State for External Affairs underlined that partial measures for non-proliferation will not work. The road map is clear - we have dealt with other categories of weapons by negotiating multilateral treaties that are comprehensive, universal and non-discriminatory. We need to adopt a similar approach to deal with nuclear weapons.
Mr. President, India's response to the Joint declaration underscores the fact that as a nuclear weapon state, our commitment to pursuing global nuclear disarmament in order to achieve a nuclear-weapon free world remains undiluted.
Mr. President, I would now wish to set out our views on agenda item 4 entitled "Effective international arrangements to assure non nuclear-weapon states against the use of nuclear weapons".
India has consistently maintained that the only credible guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons lies in their total elimination. Until this objective is reached, as an interim measure, there exists an obligation on part of the nuclear weapon states to assure non nuclear weapon states against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, as also that these weapons will not be used as instruments of pressure, intimidation and blackmail. This obligation should be of an internationally legally binding character, clear, credible, universal and without discrimination. We welcome the resumption of work in the CD after a pause of three years, on the basis of its decision contained in CD 1501. We also record our appreciation to the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee Ambassador de Icaza of Mexico from whose vast diplomatic experience and skills the Ad Hoc Committee has greatly benefitted.
At the outset, it bears recalling that NSAs have been a longstanding agenda item of the Conference on Disarmament. Although much useful work was done during the previous Ad Hoc Committees, this fact also bears testimony to the inability of the Conference on Disarmament to successfully conclude its work on this item. We do not need to delve here on the reasons for the inability of the CD over the years to bring to a successful conclusion its consideration of NSAs. Suffice to mention that NSAs, a long standing demand of the non nuclear weapon states, was not accorded the same priority as other items on the nuclear non-proliferation agenda and in fact remained its poor cousin.
The consideration of security assurances have been plagued from the beginning with linkages not with the objectives of nuclear disarmament but with that of non-proliferation. Seen in the latter perspective, security assurances remained confined to what the nuclear weapon states thought fit to provide at their discretion. There remained an unfulfilled need for these assurances to be multilaterally negotiated, legally binding and comprehensive. Securiy assurances remained interim measures without an objective, save that of finding a place in a framework that enabled the nuclear weapon states to retain in perpetuity their privileged possession of nuclear weapons.
Partial and conditional pledges of non use of nuclear weapons, whether undertaken unilaterally or in separate undertakings cannot be the basis for credible guarantees for non nuclear weapon states. In 1965, along with a group of non-aligned countries, India put forward the proposal for an international non-proliferation agreement under which the nuclear weapon states would agree to give up their arsenals, provided other countries refrained from developing or acquiring such weapons. This balance of rights and obligations was not accepted.
In the 1960s when there was a deepening of our security situation, we sought security guarantees but the countries we turned to were unable to extend to us the expected assurances. India expressed its strong reservations with the approach employed in the UN Security Council resolution 255, which was repeated in Security Council Resolution 984, adopted on the eve of the indefinite extension of the NPT. We believe that a continuation of the same approach will not yield fruitful results.
India supported UNGA resolution 1653 of 24th November 1961 which called on the Secretary General to ascertain the views of the member states on the possibility of Convening a Special Conference for concluding a Convention on the Prohibition of Use of Nuclear Weapons. In 1978, India proposed negotiations for an international convention that would prohibit the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.
The UN Charter does not discriminate between those that might adhere to a particular treaty or those that might not and the responsibility of the UN Security Council is to all member states of the UN without discrimination. The NPT as it stands today cannot reflect the ground realities and would be an inadequate framework for consideration of security assurances. Thus we do not recognise any linkage between the objectives of this ad hoc committee and the NPT.
Consideration of Security Assurances in the narrow straightjacket of Nuclear Weapon Free Zones cannot do justice to the wide variety of concerns that emanate from the global nature of the threat posed by nuclear weapons. Besides, we do not consider the CD as the appropriate forum for the consideration of regional issues. We, however, respect the soverign choice exercised by non nuclear weapon states in establishing NWFZs on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the States of the region concerned. At the recently concluded fifth session of the ASEAN Regional Forum in Manila, India stated that we fully respect the status of the Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in South East Asia and are ready to convert this commitment into a legal obligation. India will remain responsive to the expressed need for commitments to other nuclear weapon free zones as well.
The delegation of Canada had posed the question in its working paper - CD 1502, "who gives what to whom and how?" The Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee had sought views of delegations on two questions: the scope of our deliberations and what is to be protected? May we suggest a third perspective, which is not exclusive from the other two. Our approach would be to seek answers to: What is the objective; and what is the combination of means that could provide a feasible internationally legally binding instrument providing security assurances in terms of current realities.
Negative security assurances are interim measures pending the elimination of nucleare weapons, which is the main objective. As interim measures, negative security assurances cannot be a substitute for genuine disarmament measures nor should they hinder the process of nuclear disarmament. However, in a world of nuclear proliferation, negative security assurances can facilitate confidence building.
We believe that a Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons could form the bedrock of security assurances - comprehensive, legally binding and irreversible. India has proposed for consideration a draft Convention on the Prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons as an annex to UNGA resolution 52/39C. We believe that such a Convention could contribute to the lowering of the nuclear threat and to the climate for negotiations leading to the nuclear disarmament, as was achieved with the other two weapons of mass destruction. This Ad Hoc Committee could also consider various proposals for the global de-alerting and de-targeting of nuclear weapons, with necessary verification mechanisms. We are also willing to discuss ways of strengthening in the context of current realities, and to give expression in a multilateral framework, the provisions contained in the 1973 Agreement between the USA and the USSR on the Prevention of Nuclear War.
As a responsible nuclear weapon state, India has stated that it does not intend to use nuclear weapons to commit aggression or for mounting threats against any country. The Prime Minister of India stated the following in the Lower House of the Indian Parliament on August 4, 1998;
"India's nuclear tests were not intended for offence but for self-defence. In order to ensure that our independence and integrity are never jeopardised in future, we will have a policy of a minimum deterrent. We have stated that we will not be the first to use nuclear weapons. We are also willing to strengthen this by entering into bilateral agreements on no-first use or a multilateral negotiations on a global no-first use. Having stated that we shall not be the first to use nuclear weapons, there remains no basis for their use against countries which do not have nuclear weapons."
The extension of the negative security assurances must be seen as part and parcel of the commitment to achieve complete nuclear disarmament. There can be no effective guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons if the nuclear weapon states cling to the notion that such weapons should be their exclusive and perpetual property, to the detriment of the security of other countries. The Colombo Declaration of the recently concluded Tenth SAARC Summit urged the Conference on Disarmament to "commence negotiations on a comprehensive, universal and non-discriminatory instrument prohibiting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons as well as eliminating such weapons in existing arsenals." We believe that the efforts of the CD through the Ad Hoc Committee under agenda item 4, in negotiating an internationally legally binding instrument could act as a matrix within which measures could be undertaken and facilitated with the aim of preventing and prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons, paving the way for their elimination.
© 1998 The Acronym Institute.
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