M A I N   N E W S

Pranab swears by NPT goals
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 5
External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee today reaffirmed New Delhi’s commitment to a voluntary unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing, assuring the international community that India would not be the source of proliferation of sensitive technologies, including enrichment and reprocessing transfers.

In a statement here, he asserted that India’s civil nuclear initiative would strengthen the international non-proliferation regime. “India believes that the opening of full civil nuclear cooperation will be good for India and for the world. It will have a profound positive impact on global energy security and international efforts to combat climate change.”

Mukherjee’s statement came while the nuclear suppliers’ group was holding a crucial meeting in Vienna to consider exempting India from its stringent regime to allow the country engage in nuclear trade with the international community.

The statement assumes added significance as only three days back the Washington Post published the contents of the replies sent by the US state department to a questionnaire from the Congressional foreign affairs committee, which, among other things, stated that nuclear trade between India and the US would be immediately called off in case India conducts a nuclear test. Pointing out that India did not subscribe to any arms race, including a nuclear arms, the minister said: “We have always tempered the exercise of our strategic autonomy with a sense of global responsibility. We affirm our policy of no-first use of nuclear weapons.”

India, he said, was committed to work with others towards the conclusion of a multilateral, fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT) in the conference on disarmament that is universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable. Mukherjee, who has been in constant touch with Indian officials in Vienna, said India has an impeccable non-proliferation record. It has in place an effective and comprehensive system of national export controls, which has been constantly updated to meet the highest international standards. This is manifested in the enactment of the weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems act in 2005.

India has taken the necessary steps to secure nuclear materials and technology through comprehensive export control legislation and through harmonisation and committing to adhere to missile technology control regime and nuclear suppliers’ group guidelines.

“We stand for strengthening of the non-proliferation regime. We support international efforts to limit the spread of ENR (enrichment and reprocessing) equipment or technologies to states that do not have them. We will work together with the international community to advance our common objective of non-proliferation,” the minister added. In this regard, India was interested in participating as a supplier nation, particularly for thorium-based fuel and in establishment of international fuel banks, which also benefit this country.



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