'No question of India joining NPT as non-nuclear weapon state'

India has made it clear that there is no question of it joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapon state while reaffirming its commitment to check further proliferation of atomic weapons.

New York: India has made it clear that there is no question of it joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapon state while reaffirming its commitment to check further proliferation of atomic weapons.

India also reiterated its stand of "no first use" of nuclear weapons and not targeting non-nuclear weapons states and offered to enter into agreements incorporating the two principles.

"As a responsible nuclear power India has a policy of credible minimum deterrence based on a No First Use posture and non-use of nuclear weapons against non- nuclear weapon states," Ambassador DB Venkatesh Varma said.

Varma, India's Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, was speaking at a meeting of the UN General Assembly Committee on Disarmament and International Peace here on Monday.

"We are prepared to covert these into bilateral or multilateral legally binding arrangements," he said.

While New Delhi is "unwavering in its commitment to universal, non-discriminatory, verifiable nuclear disarmament," he said, "there is no question of India joining the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state."

Joining NPT as a non-nuclear weapons state would require India unilaterally giving up its nuclear weapons.

India considers NPT as the last vestige of apartheid in the international system, granting as it does to five-countries (US, UK, China, France and Russia) the right to be nuclear-weapons state while denying the same right to others. The NPT came into force in 1970.

"India is committed to working with the international community to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery," he said.

Varma said nuclear disarmament can be achieved through a step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed global and non-discriminatory multilateral framework.

"We have called for a meaningful dialogue among all states possessing nuclear weapons to build trust and confidence and for reducing the salience of nuclear weapons in international affairs and security doctrines," he said.

On another matter affecting the restriction of nuclear weapons, he offered India's qualified support to the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) negotiations.

"Without prejudice to the priority we attach to nuclear disarmament, we support the negotiation in the Conference on Disarmament of an FMCT that meets India's national security interests," he said.

Such a treaty would stop the making of materials that could be used in nuclear weapons.  

Reintroducing a draft resolution on a Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons, he criticised countries with nuclear weapons coverage that have repeatedly voted against the proposed measure since it was first introduced in 1982.

He regretted "that a sizeable minority of member states - some of them nuclear weapon states, some with nuclear weapons stationed on their soil and others with alliance partnerships underwritten by policies of first use of nuclear weapons - have voted against this resolution."

And "for reasons that are difficult to understand, some member states which are today in the forefront of efforts to highlight the humanitarian impact of use of nuclear weapons have also voted against this resolution".

Reflecting the concern of the international community to the dangers from terrorists, Varma said India will be introducing again a draft resolution on "measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction".

"We believe that increasing restraints on use of nuclear weapons would reduce the probability of their use - whether deliberate, unintentional or accidental and this process could contribute to the progressive de- legitimisation of nuclear weapons, an essential step for their eventual elimination, as was achieved for chemical and biological weapons," he said.

He emphasised the importance that discussions be inclusive with the participation of all states including the nuclear powers.

"In terms of substance, they should do no harm to the non-proliferation regime or impede genuine progress towards the goal of nuclear disarmament. In terms of process, they should do no harm to the established disarmament machinery," Varma said. 

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