H.E. Ms. Savitri Kunadi
Permanent Representative of India
to the United Nations in Geneva
at the General Debate in the First Committee
October 15, 1999
Mr. Chairman, the Indian delegation extends to you its sincere congratulations on your election to the chairmanship of the First Committee. We have every confidence that under your guidance this Committee will achieve the tasks that it has set for itself.
2. The closing weeks of this millennium have brought forth in all of us thoughts about humanity's endeavors during what has arguably been an extraordinarily bloody century. This Committee, dealing as it does with international security issues, has much to learn from the lessons of the past to ensure that these are not repeated in the future. The Millennium Summit to be held next year can benefit from our work. Therefore, there is an added responsibility that rests on us this year. This Committee has learnt all too often that focus on contentious issues vitiates the atmosphere and saps its productive potential. We hope that the deliberations of this Committee will lead us down the path of a collective reappraisal and contribute to the achievement of the disarmament agenda in the years ahead.
3. The failure of the international community to effectively address the threat posed by nuclear weapons over the past fifty years makes it all the more necessary that we redouble our efforts for their elimination in the coming years. The instrument designed to deal with nuclear weapons and promote global nuclear disarmament and genuine non-proliferation in all its aspects the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty has proved to be ineffective. Genuine and long lasting nonproliferation in all its aspects, in the absence of a disarmament yardstick, is difficult not only to achieve but to measure as well. The goal of global nuclear non-proliferation can be achieved if the international community looks beyond the old framework and embraces a new security paradigm that can ensure international peace and security on the basis on equal and legitimate security for all through global disarmament.
4. The non-discriminatory international Conventions prohibiting Chemical and Biological weapons respectively were based on a devaluation of the military utility of these weapons and on the belief that rather then partial and discriminatory arms control, the interests of international security would be better served through their complete prohibition and elimination. The delegitimization of nuclear weapons and their progressive reduction through a step by step process offers the most credible way forward towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.
5. As an original state party to the CWC, India has endeavored to discharge, fully and faithfully, its obligations under the Convention. There remains the continuing responsibility of all States Parties to the CWC to ensure that all its provisions are implemented fully and effectively. It is a matter of collective concern that some States Parties have, despite voicing support for the Convention, not provided full declarations to the OPCW, adversely affecting the inspection schedules.
6. India has participated actively and constructively in the ongoing negotiations in Geneva in the BTWC Ad hoc group. We hope that these negotiations, undertaken in accordance with the agreed mandate and without artificial deadlines, will yield results as soon as possible, before the Fifth Review Conference in 2001. It is our expectation that the future Protocol will not only strengthen the implementation of the BTWC but also give full expression, in a non-discriminatory manner, to the developmental imperatives contained in Article III as well as Article X of the Convention, essential for the conclusion of an universally acceptable Protocol.
7. Mr. Chairman, the initial promise of deep, continuous and irreversible reductions in strategic nuclear forces, held out by the positive climate of the early post cold war years, appears to be fast fading. Those countries with the largest nuclear arsenals clearly also have the main responsibility for moving forward the process of nuclear arms reductions. We hope that the agreements reached during the Cologne Summit would lead to an early revitalization of the bilateral process. The current stalemate in bilateral nuclear arms negotiations should not be taken as a disincentive for the other long established nuclear weapon states, each with substantial arsenals of their own, to undertake reductions in a multilateral framework.
8. Doctrines of first use of nuclear weapons have been revalidated even though the threat perceptions that originally gave rise to those doctrines have long disappeared. The only remaining military alliance with transcontinental dimensions continues to assign nuclear weapons the highest priority, with several of its members ostensibly non-nuclear weapon states, permitting peace-time deployment of nuclear weapons on their territories and given war-time access to those very weapons, in violation of treaty obligations undertaken by them.
9. Several distinguished institutions, including several NGOs, media and other voices from the civil society the world over have supported the call for a world order based on the principles of equal and legitimate security for all, convinced that it is both essential and possible to bring about the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. This was echoed recently at the meeting in New Delhi, of the Pugwash on the Global Elimination of Nuclear weapons."
10. In its landmark advisory opinion, the international Court of Justice concluded unanimously that there exists an obligation not just to begin but also to bring to a conclusion negotiation leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control. We need to consider further steps that can build upon that historic advisory opinion.
11. With the end of the cold war a decade ago there is no justification for thousands of nuclear weapons that are maintained in. a state of hair-trigger alert creating unacceptable risks of unintentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons that could have catastrophic consequences for all mankind. The international community is therefore entitled to clear commitment from all the nuclear weapon states that the most important objective of their policies is to remove the danger of war and reduce the risk of accidental or unintentional use of nuclear weapons, including through what is referred to as the Y2K problem.
12. Last year, India's initiative of introducing a new resolution " Reducing Nuclear Danger" received widespread support in the General Assembly. A number of programmes and measures for achieving global nuclear disarmament have been put forward by States, eminent individuals or \ on governmental organizations attributing the highest priority to the need for steps to be taken that reduce the risk of unintentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons. We propose to reintroduce the resolution this year with the expectation that the international community can take necessary action, both individually and collectively, to reduce the risks posed by hair-trigger alert postures and related doctrines of use.
13. Mr. Chairman, there is no dilution of India's commitment to the goal of global nuclear disarmament. India is the only nuclear weapon state that believes that its security would be enhanced in a nuclear weapon free-world and thus continues to press for negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention that will prohibit forever the development, production, stockpiling, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons and provide for the elimination of all existing weapons under international verification.
14. Convinced that a world without nuclear weapons would enhance global security as well as its own, India put forward several initiatives towards this end. It was the first to call for a ban on nuclear testing in 1954, for a non-discriminatory treaty on non-proliferation in 1965, a treaty on non-use of nuclear weapons in 1978, a nuclear freeze in 1982 and in 1988 a phased programme for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.
15. None of these were accepted. We were in turn asked to join, as supplicants, an unequal and discriminatory non-proliferation regime which is underwritten. By a treaty that has proved, to be better at freezing in perpetuity a slice of history as the, world stood on 1 January 1967, than at reflecting arid contending with realities of proliferation that treaty has been either unable or unwilling to prevent. The failure of the existing non-proliferation regime has obliged us to take measures to safeguard our security.
16. The Indian Government has already spelt out in Parliament the main elements of its policy of minimum nuclear deterrence with the stated purpose of meeting the requirements of its democratic polity of openness and transparency consistent with national security.
17. The minimum deterrent posture, based on the self-evident principle of "more is not better when less is adequate" governs both the quantum as well as the operational mode of our nuclear policy, which is characterized by restraint an essential element of confidence building that every nuclear weapon state owes, but has seldom discharged, to the international community. The deployment posture, with a civilian command and control structure, shall be governed by our abiding commitments, voluntarily offered and unconditionally undertaken, for a no-first use of nuclear weapons and a commitment of non-use of nuclear weapons against non nuclear weapon states. We have already stated our willingness to strengthen this undertaking by entering into bilateral agreements on No first use or multilateral negotiations on a global no-first use of nuclear weapons.
18. This Committee is aware of the circumstances leading to India standing aside from the CTBT in 1996. That decision, taken on the basis of national consensus, was governed by considerations, some of which have been addressed through the limited series of five underground nuclear tests conducted by India in 1998. Thereafter, India announced a voluntary moratorium on further underground test explosions. The Government of India is committed towards creating the widest possible consensus domestically and naturally a positive environment will be an essential enabling element. We also expect that other countries shall adhere to this treaty without conditions Recent developments indicate that the CTBT is not a simple uncomplicated issue, Among other things it requires building a national consensus in the countries concerned, including India.
19. Mr. Chairman, India joined the consensus on the FMCT resolution 53/77 I adopted by the fast General Assembly - a resolution, not without the dubious significance of having literally a paragraph in lieu of a title. This procedural resolution-adopted without a vote, reaffirmed the substance of 48/75L adopted by the General Assembly in 1993. We are aware that when the CD is able to successfully negotiate such a treaty, it will only be a partial measure towards our shared objective of global nuclear disarmament. India's participation in the negotiations will be constructive and aimed at moving the process forward.
20. The agreement reached in the CD in 1998 on the establishment of an ad hoc committee on Fissile Material was made possible by the flexibility of a large section of its delegations, including India whose highest priority remains the establishment of an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament. Despite this flexibility the Conference on Disarmament was unable this year to register forward movement. This stalemate in the CD, despite no delegation opposing negotiations on FMCT, conveys an important lesson - the CD cannot and should not be used for the pursuit of exclusivist agendas of a few.
21. The CD cannot lose sight of the actual priorities in the disarmament agenda that the international community expects of it. We believe that there should be no slackening of efforts on the vital issue of nuclear disarmament. There are several proposals on the table, which deserve serious consideration including the draft decision put forward by the Group of 21 in CD 1571 on a phased program for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons with a specified framework of time, including a nuclear weapons convention. The Conference should utilize to the full mechanisms provided for in its Rules of Procedure for building the consensus necessary for enabling future negotiations. As the single multilateral disarmament forum, the Conference has a crucial and indispensable role.
22. India has viewed the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons as the bedrock of Negative Security Assurances (NSA) which are comprehensive, legally binding and irreversible step towards delegitimizing nuclear weapons. India along with several co-sponsors, who extended invaluable support as in previous years, intends to table a resolution on this subject.
23. While we have consistently maintained that nuclear weapon free zones cannot do justice to the wide variety of concerns emanating from the global nature of the threat posed by nuclear weapons, we respect the sovereign choice exercised by non-nuclear weapon states in establishing nuclear weapon free zones on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the States of the Region concerned. We were pleased that the UNDC was able to reach agreement this year on this subject and its work will provide useful consensus guidelines we can keep in mind while considering further measures to reduce the global threat posed by nuclear weapons.
24. At the sixth session of the ASEAN Regional Forum, in Singapore, India reiterated that it fully respects the status of the Nuclear weapon free zone in South East Asia and is ready to convert this commitment into a legal obligation. India will remain responsive to the expressed need for such commitments to other nuclear weapon free zones as well. India looks forward to further productive interaction with the States of Central Asia, including through the framework of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia. India is also prepared to extend all necessary commitments for the early realization of the nuclear weapon free zone in Central Asia.
25. The peaceful applications of nuclear technology are of critical importance for developing countries. As the IAEA prepares to meet the challenges of the coming years, it should remain faithful to its original mandate as a promoter of atomic energy - not just a policeman. Discriminatory restrictions on access to materials, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes, including restrictions which negatively impact on nuclear safety, must give way to open and transparent arrangements. Recent events have shown that we should continue to attach the highest importance to nuclear safety. India is positively considering its accession to the Convention of the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials, whose standards of physical protection India has been practicing for long.
26. Mr. Chairman, India remains fully committed to maintaining and further strengthening of an effective and transparent system of export controls of technologies that would be in line with the objectives of non-proliferation in all its aspects without affecting the peaceful applications of these technologies. At the same time as a developing country that has had to pay a high developmental cost in view of the persistence of discriminatory control mechanisms, some contrary to existing treaty provisions. India has been fully supportive of multilaterally negotiated, universally acceptable, non-discriminatory guidelines for international transfers of dual use technologies and high technologies with military applications. We appreciate the efforts of the Secretary General in bringing out the Report "Role of Science and Technology in the context of international security and disarmament" - A/54/ 167 and its addenda. With a view to carrying forward the consideration of this subject, India proposes, along with co-sponsors who have extended invaluable support, a resolution entitled "The role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament."
27. The Conference on Disarmament was unable during its 1999 session to address issues related to the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space. India was one of the co-sponsors of 33/76, which reiterated that the CD has the primary role in the negotiation of a multilateral agreement or agreements, as appropriate, on the prevention of an arms race in outer space in all its aspects. Technological developments including in ballistic missile defenses could have the effect of opening new areas of competition adding to pressures against the ABM treaty. We share the concerns expressed in the Final Communiqué of the NAM issued in New York on 23 September regarding the negative implications of these developments and the further erosion of the international climate conducive to the promotion of disarmament and the strengthening of international security. We support the early commencement of negotiations in the CD of an appropriate instrument that would, as first step, ensure the non-weaponization of space while at the same time preserving the use of space which is the common heritage of mankind, for the full range of peaceful and developmental activities.
28. India remains committed to the objective of a non-discriminatory and universal ban on anti-personnel mines, through a phased process that addresses legitimate defense requirements of states while ameliorating the critical humanitarian crisis that has resulted from an indiscriminate transfer and use of land mines. We would support negotiations in the CD on a ban on transfers of anti-personnel mines on the basis of a mandate that reflects the interests of all delegations. India has been an active participant in the CCW process and this year it ratified amended Protocol 11 as well as Prctocol IV. The First Conference of States parties to be held in December this year in Geneva will be a useful opportunity to review progress in the CCW process.
29. The continuing illicit trade in small arms and light weapons which finds its way to non-state entities fueling strife and terrorism has been recognized by the international community as one of its priority problems. The transnational linkages including cross-border and narco-terrorism are expanding by the day. We note that there is now a greater awareness of the magnitude and ramifications of this problem, which has a disproportionately large negative impact on the internal stability, and the socio-economic development of the States effected. The fabric of international society is also threatened by the specter of international terrorism fuelled by the availability and transfer of illicit arms. India supports and will actively participate in the preparatory process for the holding of the proposed international Conference on the illicit arms trade in all its aspects in 2001, To prepare for such a conference, we believe it would be useful to establish a prepcom with a mandate to define the objectives, scope, agenda and the final outcome of the Conference.
30. We were disappointed that the deliberations of the 1999 substantive session of the Disarmament Commission on the Fourth special Session of the General Assembly devoted to Disarmament, did not meet with success. While India remains committed to the convening of SSOD IV, we feel that it is essential that we do so by reaffirming the priorities including that on nuclear disarmament, that were agreed to by consensus in SSOD I. India cannot be party to attempts to overturn that consensus. The Heads of State or Government at the Durban, NAM Summit reaffirmed the need to continue to press for further steps leading to the convening of SSOD IV with the participation of all member states of the United Nations as well as the need for SSOD IV to review and assess the implementation of SSOD I. We believe that other initiatives, especially on the priority issue of nuclear disarmament, would complement as well as contribute to the success of SSOD IV when it is convened.
31. Mr. Chairman, as we stand on the threshold of the next millennium let us resolve to intensify our efforts to strengthen international peace and security. An essential element will have to be a common recognition that the measures we discuss and negotiate are global and non-discriminatory and will therefore enhance the security of all. The quest for a unilateral security advantage for a few or the assertion of the right to exclusive standards of national security goes contrary to the spirit that can sustain a durable system of international security . This Committee should firmly oppose such trends if the international community is to face the multitude of challenges that may arise in the next millennium.