08 MAY 2021 | CONTACT US
Statement By Ms. Arundhati Ghose, Ambassdor/Permanent Representative Of India To UN, Geneva In The P
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I would like to take this opportunity to join the other speakers before me in congratulating you on your assuming the Presidency of the CD at the beginning of what could be a critical year for this forum. I can assure you of our cooperation in the tasks before you. We are aware of the stand taken by Myanmar on the issues before the CD and have had the privilege of working closely and fruitfully with you before. We have noted with appreciation the industry and fairness you have personally already brought to the job, particularly in trying to deal with the strongly divergent views held by delegations on the program of work of this session. I also take this opportunity to thank most sincerely the previous President, Ambassador Nacer Benjelloun-Touimi of Morocco, for his friendly, industrious and sincere efforts to try and find solutions to some of the issues before the Conference during his Presidency. May I also welcome warmly our three new colleagues from the Group of 21 who have recently joined the CD - the distinguished Ambassadors of Cuba, Kenya and Nigeria.

Mr. President, we do indeed see 1996 as a testing time for all of us in the CD. I have been told, and I agree, that the international community and international public opinion - from north and south, east and west - has great expectations of us. We need to be conscious of this.

We start this session at a time when our apprehensions relating to the international security environment have increased, rather than, as had been optimistically expected some years ago, diminished.

Less than a year ago, the NPT was indefinitely extended. This single act resulted in the legitimization, for the foreseeable future and beyond, of the possession of nuclear weapons by a few States and their possible use as a currency of power. This is not just India's view. This has been argued by some of the States themselves before the International Court of justice. That winding down of nuclear weapons is not yet part of the global agenda has also been demonstrated and emphasized to the world by subsequent events. Nuclear weapon States continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on their arsenals and plan on new facilities for continuing weapons related research and development.

We are not unaware that these States undertook "to make progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally with the ultimate aim of eliminating those weapons". But I think that we are justified in out skepticism as this undertaking was followed by re-assertions by some of these countries citing reasons of their security, of their continuing need not only to possess these weapons but to ensure their reliability - for use. Other developments, including announcements of "sub-critical" tests for the refinement of the nuclear weapons, and proposals for political discussions on the future role of nuclear weapons to ensure the security of some nuclear weapon States and their allies, and the inconsistency of these developments with the avowed goal of nuclear disarmament, have been noted by us with growing unease.

Mr. President, we have noted the steps taken by two nuclear weapon States to begin a process of dismantling their nuclear weapons. We are vitally interested in the progress of this process and would encourage its widening and deepening, since even after the planned reductions, huge stockpiles of weapons will remain. These existing weapons continue to pose a threat and it is on this that our attention is focused today. Clearly, such a perpetually discriminatory environment will be perceived as unstable, provoking countries to unilateralism rather than collective security. Given the possibility of treating the perpetuation of the NPT as providing an indefinite license for possession of nuclear weapons, it becomes even more imperative to have a legally binding commitment to eliminate these weapons in a specific time frame.

Mr. President, global nuclear disarmament has been a major objective of India's foreign policy since independence. We are also conscious that disarmament cannot be achieved while proliferation continues. However, non-proliferation cannot be an end in itself and loses moral credibility unless it is unambiguously linked to disarmament. We have demonstrated our commitment to non-proliferation by voluntarily and unilaterally exercising the most rigorous control on our peaceful nuclear program. Possession of nuclear weapons by any country constitutes a wider threat and this is not only a matter of principle but of the safety and security of all nations and all peoples.

It was for this reason, Mr. President, that India joined the other members of the G-21 in calling for the immediate establishment in the CD of an Ad hoc Committee on Nuclear Disarmament to start negotiations on a phased program with the eventual aim of eliminating all nuclear weapons within a time-bound framework.

We were, and are, therefore deeply disturbed that some States that possess nuclear weapons appear unwilling to start addressing the security concerns of other States. That concerns on this issue are widely shared is evident from the clear messages received not only from the UN General Assembly but from Heads of States and Governments of the majority of the world community in Cartagena last year. Mr. President, we sincerely hope that you will be able to undertake serious and intensive consultations on this issue over the next week or two and we hope that you will succeed in getting a satisfactory agreement at an early date. In the CD, we must be able to start negotiations on a time bound program for the elimination of nuclear weapons early this year. This makes 1996 a year critical to the CD and to the future of all disarmament negotiations.

Mr. President, it is in this context that we envision the future negotiations on a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. To have a multilaterally negotiated CTBT was India's proposal four decades ago. Even at that time, we stated clearly that the CTBT was only a first step towards complete nuclear disarmament. If implemented then, the number of States with nuclear weapons and the number, types and the range of weapons in the possession of those that have them would have been very much less and, in our opinion, nuclear disarmament would by now have been in our grasp. During these four decades the nuclear weapon States have undertaken extensive testing programs. This only makes it important that, as we take this step for a CTBT, we ensure that it is a step on the road to nuclear disarmament rather than into a cul-de-sac. In October 1995, addressing the NAM Summit in Cartagena, my Prime Minister had "wholeheartedly" supported the goals of the CTBT, in the context of obtaining a commitment to universal and comprehensive disarmament. India's views on this matter were last formally made known by us in the First Committee of the last UN General Assembly, when, referring to the CTBT negotiations, we stated "we are determined to continue our contribution to this process with a view to concluding a good treaty in 1996 In our view, the CTBT must be an integral step in the process of nuclear disarmament. Developing new warheads or refining existing ones after the CTBT is in place, using innovative technologies, would be as contrary to the spirit of the CTBT as the NPT is to the spirit of non-proliferation".

Mr. President, India is committed to working towards a CTBT that will promote the universally enunciated goal of total nuclear disarmament and thereby, the lasting and legitimate security interests of all countries in a nuclear-weapon-free-world, including our own. In this spirit, we have been actively participating in the CTBT negotiations and will continue to be so engaged with the aim of achieving our goals.

We are aware that much work remains to be done on the CTBT text. We have yet to come to grips with several major technical and political issues, including the scope of the treaty, the verification regime, on-site inspections, the IMS architecture the financing of both the new organizations and the IMS, the composition of the Executive Council, the articles relating to withdrawal and entry into force etc. There are, however, key issues which have a centrality for India and other States. We are of the view that, to be meaningful, the Treaty should be securely anchored in the global disarmament context and be linked through treaty language to the elimination of all nuclear weapons in a time bound framework. We, therefore, intend to make concrete textual proposals in this regard at an appropriate stage so that the CTBT does not become just another flawed instrument aimed at curbing horizontal proliferation but a genuine disarmament step which terminates, for all States, without discrimination, the qualitative improvement and development of nuclear weapon systems. If the CTBT were to enter into force without a credible commitment for the elimination of nuclear weapons we would, have lost yet another opportunity to work determinedly towards achieving a nuclear weapon free world.

Another crucial issue relates to the article on the 'scope' of the Treaty. Mr. President, we continue to believe in a truly Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty -- that is, a Treaty that bans all kinds of nuclear weapons testing. As the PTBT drove testing underground, we do not wish the CTBT to drive testing into the laboratories by those who have the resources to do so. We must ensure that the CTBT leaves no loophole for activity, either explosive based or non-explosive based, aimed at the continued development and refinement of nuclear weapons. Consequently, these political intent needs to be reflected in the CTBT, clearly defining our objective - a Treaty that will bring an end to all nuclear weapons development, not constrained by artificial limits of verification. The situation would be untenable where, even with a CTBT in place, development, refinement and production of new nuclear weapons continues. Mr. President, the CTBT must not become only an environmental treaty -- important though the environmental consequences of test explosions may be. The CTBT, to be credible and meaningful, must be truly comprehensive and part of a genuine disarmament process. We have already presented language to cover our point of view. We would be willing to examine any other language, which would address our concerns.

Mr. President, verbal prestidigitation cannot provide answers to the issues that we are addressing. These need to be worked out through patient and transparent negotiations conducted in good faith and taking into account all legitimate national concerns - We look forward to consolidating the gains of the work done in recent weeks in areas where we have reached consensus. True solutions have to be found where there are differences. We will do our best to move the negotiations forward and will participate sincerely and actively in any joint search for solutions.

In conclusion, Mr. President, I would like to express our hope that this year the CD will move towards fulfilling not only international expectations but also the purpose for which this body was created and will be able to demonstrate the courage and determination needed to address issues which impact on all human beings, from whichever part of the world, of whatever race, color or creed, and which can make the difference between international insecurity and international peace.