India should take lead in pushing n-disarmament: Saran

February 18th, 2008 - 10:37 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Feb 18 (IANS) India should take a fresh initiative towards universal nuclear disarmament, especially in view of the danger of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists in countries like Pakistan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Special Envoy Shyam Saran said Monday. “The nature of the dangers which nuclear weapons pose has dramatically intensified with the growing risk that such weapons may be acquired by terrorists or jihadi groups who could threaten to use, or worse, even utilise such weapons to carry out attacks against targets which may be located anywhere in the world,” Saran said in a lecture at the India International Centre here.

“No country, including India, is safe from such attacks,” Saran, the prime minister’s special envoy on the India-US nuclear deal, said in the lecture entitled “India and the Nuclear Domain”.

“The mounting concern over the likelihood that, in a situation of chaos, Pakistan’s nuclear assets may fall into the hands of jihadi elements, fired by the ideology of extremism and mindless violence, underscores how real this danger has become,” he said.

Saran referred to Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan’s clandestine nuclear super-market to underline the dangers of nuclear terrorism.

“The danger posed by proliferation of nuclear weapons to non-state actors is of a different and more threatening dimension than that from proliferation to additional states,” he said.

“India has to be deeply concerned about the danger it faces, as do other states, from this new and growing threat,” he said.

Asserting India’s right to a nuclear deterrent, Saran made a pitch for India pursuing the cause of nuclear disarmament with “renewed vigour”.

Alluding to the “grand bargain”, when India sponsored negotiations on a Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1965, Saran argued that India is in a unique position to realise the “vision of a non-violent world, free from the scourge of nuclear weapons”.

In 1965, India had proposed that non-nuclear weapon states should commit themselves to never developing or acquiring nuclear weapons, in return for a legal and time-bound commitment by nuclear weapon states to eliminate their arsenals.

“Today, as a nuclear weapon state, India is in a unique position to take the lead in resurrecting the original grand bargain, because the danger of nuclear terrorism today threatens to engulf all states, including nuclear weapon states,” he said.

“India is perhaps the best placed to fashion a global consensus on achieving nuclear disarmament as an urgent objective, not only because of the mass-destruction character of these weapons, but also because their link with international terrorism poses a global threat,” he said, adding that top diplomats and experts in the US are also taking a fresh look at the idea of universal disarmament.

He advocated a multilaterally negotiated treaty that prohibits the development, production and use of nuclear weapons, on the model of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

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