Global lobby urges India to sign CTBT on eve of NSG meet

August 20th, 2008 - 9:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Vienna, Aug 20 (IANS) A day before the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) meets here to discuss a change in guidelines for global nuclear commerce with India, an international lobby Wednesday urged New Delhi to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Referring to the three countries that have not signed the CTBT - India, North Korea and Pakistan - Tibor Toth, executive secretary of the CTBT Organisation (CTBTO) Preparatory Commission,urged them to sign the treaty. The Vienna-based global organisation is tasked with ensuring effective implementation of the treaty.

He also referred to Iraq signing the CTBT in New York Tuesday to underline that the three countries in the Asian region are important for enforcing the CTBT.

Iraq’s action was an important step in the area of prohibition of weapons of mass destruction taking into account the crisis over this issue in the past 15 years, Toth told reporters.

“With Iraq coming on board, 179 countries have signed the CTBT,” he added.

Toth also urged those signatory countries which have not ratified the treaty yet to do so as this will strengthen its enforcement.

The Preparatory Commission for the CTBTO was established Nov 19, 1996, by a resolution adopted by the meeting of signatories to the CTBT at the United Nations in New York.

India has refused to sign the CTBT on grounds that it is discriminatory as it amounts to dividing the world into the nuclear haves and have-nots. After it declared itself a nuclear weapon state in 1998, the world’s leading powers stepped up pressure on India to sign the CTBT.

New Delhi has, however, assured the international community by placing a voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing.

Toth’s remarks urging India to sign the CTBT are likely to embolden some countries in the 45-nation NSG which have serious reservations about some aspects of the India-US civil nuclear deal.

Austria, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and Ireland are among countries that have hawkish views on non-proliferation and are being seen by New Delhi as ‘difficult’ countries in the NSG.

Toth’s remarks also indicate that the NSG waiver will not be a cakewalk for India. Given strong reservations of some sceptical countries, a second meeting of the NSG in early September looks almost certain.

The NSG will begin its two-day formal meeting Thursday at the premises of Japan’s permanent mission to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). India is not a member of the group and cannot be part of its discussions.

However, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and Prime Minister’s Special Envoy Shyam Saran will brief all the 45 members of the NSG at the IAEA headquarters on the eve of the meeting.

India is hoping that the NSG will consider all aspects of the nuclear deal and the merits of accommodating New Delhi in the global non-proliferation regime before taking a decision on amending its guidelines.

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