India denounces call to give up nukes, sign NPT (With Images)
United Nations Oct 13 (IANS) India has denounced a call to give up its nuclear weapons and sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) while it "remains committed to universal non-discriminatory and verifiable nuclear disarmament".
"The question of India joining the NPT as NNWS (non-nuclear weapon states) does not arise " India s top disarmament diplomat Amandeep Singh Gill told the General Assembly committee on disarmament on Thursday.
"At the same time we support upholding and strengthening global non-proliferation objectives."
India s Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament Gill was reacting to a call by a group calling itself the New Agenda Coalition that India - along with Israel and Pakistan - sign the NPT as NNWS which would effectively mean giving up its nuclear arsenal.
Speaking on behalf of the group Mexico s Alternate Permanent Representative Juan Sandoval Mendiolea said on Wednesday that they were introducing a resolution urging "India Israel and Pakistan to accede to the (Non-Proliferation) Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon states promptly and without conditions and to place all their nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards."
The group that includes Brazil Egypt Ireland New Zealand South Africa and Mexico did not make a similar demand on the other nuclear powers -- Britain China France Russia and the US - or even North Korea.
Gill said India hopes "our friends will renew theirs and focus on the real implementation deficits on non-proliferation and disarmament".
Although it was not a party to the NPT he said that "India abides by the principles and objectives of the NPT including its nuclear disarmament aspirations.
"India is committed to making its contribution to strengthening non-proliferation."
Gill reiterated India s commitment "as a responsible nuclear power" to "a policy of credible minimum deterrence based on a No First Use posture and non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states".
"We remain committed to maintaining a unilateral voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing " he added.
A contentious issue during the debate was the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Its text was adopted by the General Assembly with 122 votes in July and the pact itself was open to signatures in September.
India along with the other nuclear-armed nations boycotted the negotiations on the treaty although North Korea voted for it.
As India did not participate in the negotiations or vote for it New Delhi "cannot be a party to the treaty and shall not be bound by any of the obligations that may arise from it" Gill said.
But "India remains ready to work with the signatories to the treaty for progress in multilateral forums on the shared goal of the global elimination of nuclear weapons" he added.
India has said that the UN Conference on Disarmament is the appropriate forum to negotiate disarmament issues.
(Arul Louis can be reached at email@example.com)