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HVK Archives: Vajpayee calls for phased programme for nuclear disarmament in this century

Vajpayee calls for phased programme for nuclear disarmament in this century - Organiser

Posted By Krishnakant Udavant (kkant@bom2.vsnl.net.in)
October 4, 1998

Title: Vajpayee calls for phased programme for nuclear disarmament in this century
Author:
Publication: Organiser
Date: October 4, 1998

Excerpts of the address of Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime
Minister of India, to the 53rd UN General Assembly on September
24.

I first addressed this august Assembly of the UN as Foreign
Minister in 1977. Since then I have had the privilege to come for
the General Assembly sessions for many years but it was without
ministerial responsibility. I acknowledge with gratitude the
confidence of successive Prime Ministers. To me it also signifies
the consensus on national interests and the foreign policy of
India. ....

Mr President, the world of the 1970's has receded into history.
The shackling constraints of the Cold War are gone. The
distinguishing feature of the last two decades has been the
spread of democracy worldwide. By force of example, we have been
one of the authors of the triumph of democracy. From this flows
our desire to see democratisation of the UN itself. An
international body that does not reflect, and change with, the
changing international realities, will inevitably face a
credibility deficit. We, therefore, support a revitalised and
effective UN, one that is more responsive to the concerns of the
vast majority of its member States and is better equipped to meet
the challenges ahead of us in the 21st century.

The Security Council does not represent contemporary reality; it
does not represent democracy in international relations.
Following the end of the Cold War it has acquired the freedom to
act but experience shows that the Council has acted only when it
was convenient for its Permanent Members. The experience of
Somalia does not do credit to the Security Council and there are
other examples too. Peace-keeping operations cannot be a
reflection of ulterior political priorities and perceptions.

There is only one cure-to bring in fresh blood. The Security
Council must be made representative of the membership of the
United Nations. Developing countries must be made permanent
members. It is a right to which the developing world is entitled.
Presence of sonic developing countries as permanent members is
inescapable for effectively discharging the responsibilities of
the Security Council particularly when we see that the Council
acts almost exclusively in the developing world. It is only
natural that on decisions affecting the developing world, these
countries have a say, on equal terms. Along with other measures,
the Security Council too must be reformed, expanding its non-
permanent membership so that more developing countries can serve
on it. But this alone is not enough. Because as long as effective
power in the Council rests with the permanent membership, the
interests of the developing world will not be promoted or
protected unless developing countries are made permanent members,
on par with the present permanent members. Only this will make
the Council an effective instrument for the international
community in dealing with current and future challenges. The new
permanent members must of course have the ability to discharge
the responsibilities that come with permanent membership. India
believes it can, and, as we had said before from this rostrum, we
are prepared to accept the responsibilities of permanent
membership, and believe we are qualified for it.

It will be a great day when democracy becomes the universal norm,
and when the UN reflects this democracy in its institutions and
functioning. However, open democratic societies have one scourge
to contend with - terrorism. The challenge before countries like
mine and other democracies is to maintain our openness, safeguard
individual rights, and, at the same time, give no quarter to
terrorists. Several speakers before me have recounted the

terrible toll, worldwide, that terrorists have exacted, taking
advantage of the trust that characterises open societies. I
recall that the G-7 Summit almost two decades back had identified
terrorism as one of the most serious threats to civilised
societies. Events since then including the blowing-up of Air
India Kanishka, the Pan Am Airlines over Lockerbie, to the recent
bombings in Nairobi and Dar-es Salaam-have only established the
correctness of that judgement.

Mr President terrorism is one threat that affects us all equally.
Terrorism takes a daily toll across the world. It is the most
vicious among international crimes, the most pervasive,
pernicious and ruthless threat to the lives of men and women in
open societies, and to international peace and security. In
India, we have had to cope with terrorism, aided and abetted by a
neighbouring country, for nearly two decades. We have borne this
with patience, but none should doubt the strength of our resolve
to crush this challenge. Its tentacles have spread across, the
world. Today, it has linkages with illicit trade in drugs, arms
and money laundering. In short, terrorism has gone global and it
can only be defeated by organised international action.

Let us make up our minds once and for all - terrorism is a crime
against humanity. Unilateral steps can hardly stand scrutiny in
an open society, let alone in the eyes of the international
community. It should be the primary task of all open and plural
societies to develop collective means for tackling this menace.
At the summit meeting in Durban, the Non-Aligned Movement has
called for an international conference in 1999 to develop such a
collective response. We urge that the 1999 conference launch the
process of negotiations for an international convention to
provide for collective action against States and organisations
which initiate or aid and abet terrorism. ...

India has ratified both the Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights and the Covenant of Civil and Political Rights.
Other institutions in our country-the National Human Rights
Commission, a free media, an independent judiciary-all serve to
assure that the international human rights statutes are enjoyed
by all citizens. We also remained convinced that unless progress
is made on economic, social and cultural rights including the
right to development the world will continue to witness
international conflict leading to migrations, displacement of
people and human rights abuses.

In the closing years of the 20th century, the challenge of
nuclear disarmament is another of the priorities facing the
international community. We have successfully prohibited chemical
and biological weapons in recent decades. The present century has
witnessed the development and the tragic use of nuclear weapons.
We must ensure that the legacy of this weapon of mass destruction
is not carried into the next century.

For the last half-century, India has consistently pursued the
objectives of international peace along with equal and legitimate
security or all through global disarmament. These concepts are
among the basic tenets of our national security. India has, over
the years, sought to enhance its national security by promoting
global nuclear disarmament convinced that a world free of nuclear
weapons enhances both global and India's national security.

The negotiations on a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) began
in 1993 with a mandate that such a treaty would "contribute
effectively to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in all
aspects, to the process of nuclear disarmament and therefore, to
the enhancement of international peace and security". India
participated actively and constructively in the negotiations, and
sought to place the Treaty in a disarmament framework by
proposing its linkage with a time-bound programme for the
universal elimination of all nuclear weapons.

It is a matter of history that India's proposals were not
accepted. The treaty, as it emerged, was not accepted by India on
grounds of national security. We made explicit our objection that
despite our stand having been made clear, the treaty text made
India's signature and ratification a pre-condition for its entry
into force.

Mindful of its deteriorating security environment which has
obliged us to stand apart from the CTBT in 1996, India undertook
a limited series of five underground tests, conducted on 11 and
13 May, 1998. Those tests were essential for ensuring a credible
nuclear deterrent for India's national security in the
foreseeable future.

Those tests do not signal a dilution of India's commitment to the
pursuit of global nuclear disarmament. Accordingly, after
concluding this limited testing programme, India announced a
voluntary moratorium on further underground nuclear test
explosions. We conveyed our willingness to move towards a de jure
formalisation of this obligation. In announcing a moratorium,
India has already accepted the basic obligation of the CTBT. In
1996, India could not have accepted the obligation as such a
restraint would have eroded our capability and compromised our
national security.

Mr. President, India, having harmonised its national imperatives
and security obligations and desirous of continuing to cooperate
with the international community, is now engaged in discussions
with key interlocutors on a range of issues, including the CTBT.
We are prepared to bring these discussions to a successful
conclusion, so that the entry into force of the CTBT is not
delayed beyond September 1999. We expect that other countries,
as indicated in Article XIV of the CTBT, will adhere to this
Treaty without conditions.

,After protracted discussions, the Conference on Disarmament in
Geneva is now in a position to begin negotiations on a treaty
that will prohibit the production of fissile materials for
nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Once again,
we are conscious that this is a partial step. Such a treaty, as
and when it is concluded and enters into force, will not
eliminate existing nuclear arsenals. Yet, we will participate in
these negotiations in good faith in order to ensure a treaty that
is non-discriminatory and meets India's security imperatives.
India will pay serious attention to any other multilateral
initiatives in this area, during the course of the negotiations
in the CD.

As a responsible state committed to non-proliferation, India has
undertaken that it shall not transfer these weapons or related
know-how to other countries. We have an effective system of
export controls and shall make it more stringent where necessary,
including by expanding control lists of equipment and technology
to make them more contemporary and effective in the context of a
nuclear India. At the same time, as a developing country, we are
conscious that nuclear technology has a number of peaceful
applications and we shall continue to cooperate actively with
other countries in this regard, in keeping with our international
responsibilities.

A few weeks, ago, at the Non-Aligned Summit in Durban, India
proposed, and the Movement agreed, that an international
conference be held, preferably in 1999, with the objective of
arriving at an agreement, before the end of this millennium on a
phased programme for the complete elimination of all nuclear
weapons. I call upon all members of the international community,
and particularly the other nuclear weapon states to join in this
endeavour. Let us pledge that when we assemble here in the new
millennium, it shall be to welcome the commitment that mankind
shall never again be subjected to the use or threat of use of
nuclear weapons. ...

I must emphasise that democratically elected leadership in open
developing societies, such as India, also faces another
challenge. We cannot let an unbridled free market system
aggravate existing economic and social disparities. In fact, we
need policy instruments to reduce disparities thus creating a
more stable environment in the long term. Such policies are
necessary in accountable democracies and in no way inconsistent
with managed liberalisation.

It is high lime, Mr President, that we begin a new international
dialogue, on the future of a global and inter-dependent economy.
This is a task for the sovereign states represented here and
cannot be left solely to the dynamics of an unregulated market
place.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends, I think I speak for all of us when
I say that we are on the threshold of a new age. This is an over-
used phrase, but we are all aware that an exciting new universe
is within our reach. Several centuries ago, Isaac Newton
described his scientific discoveries as pebbles on the beach,
while the Ocean of Truth lay undiscovered. It was modest of that
great scientist to so describe his work; but I believe that we
are now actually sailing in the Ocean of Truth. We have made
exciting discoveries and will make many more which will move
humankind forward.

And yet, there is also an uneasy feeling that all is not well.
The world is not at ease with itself. Forces arc bubbling under
the surface tranquility in almost all parts of the world that
threaten the gains of the last century and which seek to lead the
world towards bigotry, violence and unhealthy exclusivism.

India has a message : not a new one, for almost all religions
have expressed the thought before. But we have preserved the
tenets of freedom, equality and tolerance in our daily lives. If
the world of the 21st century is to be a better place


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