08 MAY 2021 | CONTACT US
Statement Made By Ms. Arundhati Ghose, Ambassdor/Permanent Representative Of India To UN In The Plen
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Mr. President,

Allow me to extend to you my congratulations on your assumption of the Presidency of the Conference. We are pleased to see a representative of a country belonging to the G-21 preside over the Conference at a time when the Conference is faced with issues of great importance. We are convinced that the Conference will benefit greatly at this time from your wisdom, experience and well-known diplomatic skills. May I also convey our sincere gratitude and appreciation to your predecessor, Ambassador Abuah of Nigeria for the dedication and skill with which he guided our work through his Presidency. I would also like to welcome Ambassador Yimer of Ethiopia whose presence in our midst has already enriched our discussions. This is also an opportunity to warmly welcome the twenty-three new members of the Conference on Disarmament who have joined us, albeit in a rather unorthodox manner, this week.

Mr. President, we have reached a critical point in the negotiations in the CTBT. Since January 1994, when the Conference on Disarmament adopted a mandate to negotiate a CTBT, "which would contribute effectively to the prevention of proliferation of nuclear weapons in all its aspects, to the process of nuclear disarmament and therefore to the enhancement of international peace and security", India has participated actively and constructively in the negotiations. We have put forward a number of proposals, consistent with the mandate adopted by the CD. These proposals are aimed at ensuring that the CTBT must be a truly comprehensive treaty, that is, a treaty which bans all nuclear testing without leaving any loopholes that would permit nuclear weapon states to continue refining and developing their nuclear arsenals at their test sites and in their laboratories. Through these proposals we have underscored the importance of placing the CTBT in a disarmament framework, as part of a step-by-step process aimed at achieving complete elimination of all nuclear weapons within a time-bound framework.

Despite all our efforts we have no choice today but to express our disappointment with the way the negotiations have developed. At this late stage we are obliged to conclude that the basic prohibitions, as drafted so far, which define -the Scope remain very narrow and do not fulfil the mandated requirement of a comprehensive ban. This approach would give us only a nuclear weapon test explosion ban treaty and not a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. We are equally if not more concerned that any attempt to introduce substantive disarmament provisions in the treaty have been blocked by some delegations. Weak and woefully inadequate preambular references to nuclear disarmament such as those contained in Working Paper 330 cannot meet our concerns. We are only too aware that non-binding references in other treaties have been treated with complete disregard. How can we escape the conclusion that the nuclear weapon, states are determined to continue to rely on nuclear weapons for their security and visualize the CTBT not as a serious disarmament measure but merely as an instrument against horizontal proliferation?

Our assessment about the agenda of nuclear weapon states is borne out by other related developments. With the end of the Cold War, there is talk of new doctrines and targeting strategies being developed for nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are attracting consideration for use against chemical or biological attack, or in a sub-strategic role. A doctrine has been developed that nuclear weapons are required as a precaution against future errant behavior and threat from unspecified states. The space window of the nuclear arms race has not been closed. To perpetuate retention, doctrines for naval deployment are being developed. To open up future possibilities, programs for antiballistic missiles are being actively pursued.

Nuclear testing which has been carried out even as our negotiations proceeded has been justified as essential for national security and for permitting completion of work on new designs and gathering of data to enable computer simulation and modeling to preserve and refine capabilities into the distant future. We see that vast amounts of resources, both human and material, continue to be devoted to competitive nuclear weapons related to R&D. The submissions by some nuclear weapon states to the International Court of Justice are further evidence that they are loath to relinquish their monopoly and regard nuclear weapons as integral to their military strategy. The CTBT that we see emerging appears to be shaped more by the technological preferences of the nuclear weapon states rather than the imperatives of nuclear disarmament. This was not the CTBT that India envisaged in 1954. This cannot be the CTBT that India can be expected to accept.

India remains convinced that complete elimination of nuclear weapons will enhance global security. Experience tells us that such an objective cannot be achieved in an adhoc and discriminatory manner. Clandestine transfers of nuclear weapon technology, a phenomenon which has caused us concern also in our region, attests to the necessity of pursuing the objective of elimination of nuclear weapons in the concrete manner proposed by India. Collectively, we have followed such a route for dealing with other weapons of mass destruction - chemical and biological weapons. And we all believe that the world is safer and better place with these treaties. Yet, there is opposition when it comes to elimination of nuclear weapons. This inconsistency in approach can only be explained by the desire to retain a monopoly, a desire which is sought to be furthered by the CTBT. We cannot accept that it is legitimate for some countries to rely on nuclear weapons for their security while denying this right to others.

Under such circumstances, it is natural that our national security considerations become a key factor in our decision making. Our capability is demonstrated but, as a matter of policy, we exercise restraint. Countries around us continue their weapon programs, either openly or in a clandestine manner. In such an environment, India cannot accept any restraints on its capability if other countries remain unwilling to accept the obligation to eliminate their nuclear weapons.

India has demonstrated its resolve in the past. We have refused to accede to the discriminatory order of today's international nuclear regime. This policy has been maintained, despite pressures of one sort or another. The same conviction is reflected in our stand on the CTBT. Last year, we expressed our dismay at the indefinite extension of the NPT because, in our view, it sought to legitimize the indefinite possession of nuclear weapons by five countries. Today, the right to continue development and refinement of their arsenals in being sought to be legitimized through another flawed and eternal treaty. Such a treaty is not conceived as a measure towards universal nuclear disarmament and is not in India's national security interest. India, therefore, cannot subscribe to it in its present form.

Among the conditions put forward for CTBT to enter into force, there are suggestions that ratification by India will be a requirement. We would not accept any language in the Treaty text, which would affect our sovereign right to decide, in the light of our supreme national interest, whether we should or should not accede to such a treaty.

India's commitment to the cause of global nuclear disarmament remains unaltered. We have always been in the forefront of the quest for world peace. This effort will continue. The experience of these negotiations strengthens out resolve that nuclear disarmament needs to be pursued resolutely in a comprehensive manner for only then will it contribute to global security, the security of all states alike and security of children all over the world. This has been a central tenet of our national security policy as reflected in our foreign policy and in our nuclear policy. We are confident that future developments will demonstrate the validity of this approach.

Thank you, Mr. President.