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Disarmament the key - The Times of India

Editorial ()
June 8, 1998

Title: Disarmament the key
Author: Editorial
Publication: The Times of India
Date: June 8, 1998

The debate on the UN Security Council resolution condemning the
Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests shows the extent to which the
world is frustrated by the failure of the five permanent members
to disarm. As a result of the insistence of many non-nuclear
states, what was intended as a fairly straightforward exercise in
double-standards has once again brought the question of universal
disarmament to the fore. Thus, while New Delhi and Islamabad
have been asked to sign the CTBT and stop developing nuclear
weapons and the missiles to deliver them, the other five nuclear
weapon states have been called upon to fulfil their obligations
to disarm. This is a significant development. As is the criticism
of China implied by the directive to nuclear weapon states to
prevent the export of weapon-related material to either India or
Pakistan. In other respects, of course, the resolution is
misguided. Its insistence on India and Pakistan signing treaties
both have said they oppose violates not just the sovereignty of
the two countries but the very principles of international law.
No sovereign state can be compelled to adhere to or sign treaties
and agreements against its will. By declaring that India and
Pakistan will not be recognised as nuclear weapon states, the
Security Council is also attempting to elevate the NPT - a
multilateral treaty which does not enjoy universal acceptance -
to a norm of customary international law. This is equally
objectionable.

If Indian and Pakistani nuclear weapons pose a threat to
international peace and security, the weapons of the P-5 do so a
hundred times over. lie five have been the most war-prone nations
in the post-war world. Worse, one of them, the US, has actually
used nuclear weapons and still continues to justify that terrible
deed in moral and military terms. The international community
must force a change in the attitude of the big powers because it
is their insistence that they have no intention of ever giving up
their nuclear arsenals which is the root cause of tension and
instability. India and Pakistan cannot give up nuclear weapons
without China doing the same. And China will not give up its
weapons unless the US, Russia, Britain and France agree to give
up theirs. Until the time the big powers are able to move in that
direction, the world will have to live with Indian and Pakistani
nuclear weapons, and perhaps with the weapons of others as well.
At the same time, India and Pakistan have a responsibility to
defuse tensions and undertake appropriate confidence building
measures with each other. As an established and mature democracy,
India must go the extra mile in order to ensure that the talks
which both countries have said they are prepared for actually
take place. New Delhi should also seize the opportunity presented
by the new-found eagerness of the non-nuclear states for
universal disarmament. Working through the non-aligned movement
and other fora, the government must start generating momentum for
talks on a Nuclear Weapons Convention to begin as soon as
possible. If the world has banned chemical and bacteriological
weapons, there is no reason why it cannot make illegal the third
- and most lethal - weapon of mass destruction.


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