India renews call for time-bound nuclear disarmament

June 10th, 2008 - 10:49 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, June 10 (IANS) India Tuesday renewed its call for “a plan and a timetable” to eliminate all nuclear weapons from the world as a two-day international conference on nuclear disarmament concluded here. Calling for a “new methodology” to achieve the objective of “universal, transparent and non-discriminatory” nuclear disarmament, Vice-President Hamid Ansari invoked former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s 1988 peace plan to realise this vision.

“To transform vision into reality, a plan and a timetable on the pattern of the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan would be essential,” Ansari said in his valedictory address at the conference which was attended by top strategic experts and former diplomats from around the world.

He was referring to a time-bound plan for universal nuclear disarmament which Rajiv Gandhi presented to the UN General Assembly 20 years ago.

Richard Butler, former executive chairman of the UN Special Commission to disarm Iraq, suggested the creation of a “New Delhi Working Group” comprising a small international community of experts who will draw up a report on nuclear disarmament. The report could be circulated to the UN General Assembly in 2009.

Alluding to the UN resolutions, Ansari underlined that the use of nuclear weapons was a crime against humanity and the proliferation of nuclear weapons was a threat against international peace and security.

“We have seen that, hitherto, nuclear disarmament has become almost synonymous with nuclear non-proliferation. A change would be possible only through such an action plan,” Ansari stressed.

“Is it not time now to open a window or two to let in the fresh breeze of global public opinion?” asked Ansari, a former diplomat who has served as India’s Permanent Representative to the UN and envoy to countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia.

He also stressed the need to “rethink” the legitimacy of possessing nuclear weapons and exhorted the international community “to marry law and morality” to map the way forward in the direction of a world free from the scourge of nuclear weapons.

“The case for the possession of nuclear weapons needs to be assessed in strategic, legal, political, financial, developmental and environmental terms. Nuclear armament ends up being, in its implications, anti-poor and anti-development,” he said while referring to the growing risk of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons.

“Given the immobility of the current disarmament process, a new methodology may be worth a try,” he said.

The conference was inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday who called for called for a new global consensus on time-bound nuclear disarmament.

Manmohan Singh also assured the world that India was not engaged in an arms race with anyone and stressed on the use of nuclear energy for achieving national development goals.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, a close aide to Rajiv Gandhi, also addressed the conclave Monday.

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