On the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty 

This hon’ble House will recall that I had made a suo moto statement regarding the CTBT on 26 August 1996, outlining our assessment of the developments in Geneva and our approach during the discussions in the General Assembly in New York.  The discussion that followed was heartening in that it reflected a national consensus on an issue which the government considers to be of vital national importance.  The strength of the national consensus is reflected in the policy of this government and the course of action which was adopted during the discussions in New York.  Today, may I, with your permission take this opportunity to brief the hon'ble House on the developments in the resumed session of the 50th UN General Assembly in New York. 

 As hon'ble members are aware, we had withheld consensus on the draft text of the CTBT in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva because it fell far short of the mandate in all its aspects.  It is not a "comprehensive treaty" - it permits the nuclear weapon states to continue their weapons related research and development activity using non-explosive technologies. it lacks any meaningful commitment to nuclear disarmament and instead of being the definitive first step of the nuclear disarmament process, it only serves to perpetuate the existing discriminatory status quo.  Consequently, the draft text cannot contribute to the enhancement of international peace and security. 

 From India's point of view, the treaty also had an unacceptable provision in Article XIV
dealing with Entry into Force which seeks to impose obligations on India despite our clearly stated position that India would not subscribe to this text.  Hon'ble members are aware that we have made known our strong objections to this formulation, in bilateral discussions and in multilateral fora.  As this provision was not modified, India was obliged to convey its opposition to the text, both in Geneva and in New York. 

Through a procedural maneuver, the draft text was introduced in the resumed session of the 
50th UN General Assembly in New York.  We made it clear to the president of the UN General Assembly and all other delegations that such an approach did not obscure the fact that this text is a non-consensus text which does not fulfill the mandate given to the Conference on Disarmament.  Subsequently, we have also informed the president of the UN General Assembly and all delegations about the amendments that would be required for the draft treaty to meet the mandate of the Conference on Disarmament.  In doing so, we have placed our concerns regarding the procedure and the shortcomings in the draft treaty text on record.  Hon'ble members are aware that our amendments called for a commitment to nuclear disarmament within a time-bound framework and for a genuinely comprehensive treaty which commits all countries to refrain from any activity relating to the development, refinement and qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons.  We also have, in this document, put forward our amendment relating to Article XIV regarding Entry into Force. 

The deliberations in the UN General Assembly session concluded last night with a resolution adopting the flawed text of the CTBT and calling for a signing conference to be convened at an early date. 158 countries voted in favor of the Australian proposal which was co-sponsored by 126 countries.  Libya and Bhutan, along with India, voted against the resolution.  We particularly appreciate the fact that neighboring Bhutan, with whom we enjoy traditional ties of close friendship and understanding, has shared our perceptions.  Similarly, it is a matter of satisfaction that Mauritius, with whom we share close ties, expressed understanding regarding our position and chose to abstain on the resolution. in all five countries abstained on the resolution. it is worth noting that though the resolution has 126 co-sponsors, many non-aligned countries have taken an active interest on this issue and have refrained from co-sponsoring the resolution.  These include, among others, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, the Arab Republic of Egypt, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Mexico. The vote was preceded by an active debate which focused on the disarmament perspective in which CTBT should have been placed.  Participating in the debate were several NAM countries.  There was a widespread expression of concern over the procedure adopted and apprehension that it may erode the credibility of the Conference on Disarmament.  A large number of countries expressed dissatisfaction with the Entry into Force provisions as being unprecedented and an unwelcome departure from customary international law.  The intrinsic shortcomings of the treaty text ere highlighted by non-aligned delegations participating in the debate, reflecting a shared perception with India.  In our discussions, many countries have assured us that they recognize the validity of our concerns.  We have the distinct impression that even after the adoption of the text, there is an uneasiness on the part of many delegations about what has really been achieved and the manner in which it has been brought about. 

There is an understanding of India's position in the international community.  The government has taken necessary steps to sustain a dialogue with all friendly countries in order to explain the rationale for our approach.  We are confident that our bilateral relations with countries will not be affected by our differences on this issue. in fact, our candid and transparent attitude and continued dialogues despite differences in perception have ensured that our voice has been heard with respect.  I must convey my gratitude to the hon'ble members because it is the consensus in this House and in the nation as a whole that has given strength and credibility to the government's stand. 

As regards what might happen in future, I would like to assure this House that we will maintain our position and not sign the CTBT.  The Entry into Force provision will ensure that this treaty shall never enter into force unless its proponents agree to amend this provision in order to remove any possibility of imposing any obligations on India.  There have been no pressures on India and if there are any in future, I am confident that this country has the national will to withstand such pressures. 

The discussions in the UN General Assembly have clearly shown that there is growing support for adopting a comprehensive, phased and time-bound program for nuclear disarmament.  We will continue to take initiatives in the United Nations and other fora in keeping with our consistent and principled policy for achieving progress towards our shared goal of a nuclear weapon-free world which will enhance India's security and also global security.