India says it’s a responsible nuclear power, seeks global disarmament

June 3rd, 2009 - 8:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama New Delhi, June 3 (IANS) Ahead of the visit of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to New Delhi next month, India Wednesday underlined its credentials as “a responsible nuclear power” and reiterated its commitment to universal nuclear disarmament amid speculation there might be pressure on it to sign the global nonproliferation treaties.
“We will welcome real action towards disarmament. What we want is a time-frame and legally binding steps towards a world free of nuclear weapons,” Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told reporters here.

“We will work with our partners internationally towards this objective,” he said when asked about his comments on US President Barack Obama’s initiative to launch a new era of nuclear disarmament talks.

“We are a responsible nuclear power,” Menon said when asked whether India feared growing pressure from the US to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

India has refused to sign both the CTBT and NPT on the ground they are “discriminatory” and tend to create a system of “nuclear apartheid”, dividing the world into the nuclear haves and have-nots.

Clinton is expected here around July 20 in the first visit at this level from the US after the Obama administration took charge early this year.

According to reliable sources, nuclear issues like CTBT are going to be high on her agenda. Such issues will also figure in talks when US Undersecretary of State William Burns comes here June 10 to prepare the agenda for Clinton’s visit.

Ahead of Clinton’s visit, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna has made it clear that there was no change in India’s position on the CTBT and NPT.

India will reiterate its long-standing position on the treaty, which it regards as discriminatory, when Clinton visits the country in July, Krishna told the Economic Times in an interview.

“Every country has its nuclear policy… Our position has been made very clear,” he said.

The appointment of non-proliferation hawk Robert Einhorn, also known as a vocal critic of the India-US nuclear deal, as the US State Department’s special advisor for non-proliferation and arms control has revived apprehensions here that the Obama administration could be tough with New Delhi on nuclear issues.

The choice of Einhorn as Clinton’s advisor, along with the appointment of former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security and Timothy Roemer as US envoy to New Delhi indicates that a more stringent non-proliferation agenda will be followed by the new US administration.

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