M A I N   N E W S

PM warns of N-terror attack
Says global disarmament a distant dream
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 9
Making a strong case for the implementation of Rajiv Gandhi’s ambitious plan for universal nuclear disarmament, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today cautioned the international community of the risk of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) falling into the hands of terrorists.

Inaugurating an international conference “Towards a world free of nuclear weapons”, he said “the painful reality is that the goal of global disarmament, based on the principles of universality, non-discrimination and effective compliance, still remains a distant one.”

The two-day conference has been organised by the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a non-government think tank, with a view to evolve a consensus in favour of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation architecture.

Top strategic experts and diplomats like Jonathan Granoff, president of the Global Security Initiative, Douglas Roche, former head of the UN disarmament committee, George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Ivan Safranchuk, a Russian expert, and Li Chang-he, vice-president, China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, are participating in it.

The conference is being held at a time when the Indo-US nuclear deal is facing rough weather in view of the vehement opposition of the Left parties. The UPA-Left committee on the nuclear deal is scheduled to be held later this month though the Left parties have ruled out any change in their position on it.

Manmohan Singh did not directly refer to the deal in his address but stated that nuclear technology was essential for meeting the national development goals and energy security. “Our energy needs will continue to rise in the foreseeable future,” he said.

The Prime Minister said the government wanted to “create an international environment in which nuclear technology is used not for destructive purposes but for helping us meet our national development goals and our energy security.”

That India would strongly propagate in the coming months Rajiv Gandhi’s action plan for global nuclear disarmament presented before the UN General Assembly when he was the Prime Minister in 1988 became obvious when Manmohan Singh said the global community must take steps to ensure universal nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in a time-bound manner and expressed India’s readiness to contribute to this gigantic task.

Rajiv Gandhi’s plan also includes negotiation of a global agreement on ‘no-first-use’ of nuclear weapons and a convention on complete prohibition of use or threat of use of nuclear weapons besides prohibition of production and stock-piling of nuclear weapons.

Manmohan Singh said India had “no intention” to engage in an arms race with anyone, adding New Delhi was “fully committed to nuclear disarmament that is global, universal and non-discriminatory in nature”, a goal that would enhance security of all countries.

The Prime Minister also referred at length to the emergence of new threats and challenges to global security and said there was “growing risk that nuclear weapons may be acquired by terrorists or those driven by extreme ideologies.”

To deal with the threat, a “critical first step” was the commitment by all countries, “preferably a binding legal commitment through an international instrument, to eliminate nuclear weapons within a time-bound framework,” he said.

Panchayati Raj minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, a trusted lieutenant of Rajiv Gandhi, also addressed the gathering. He said the late leader’s action plan was the culmination of 40 years of intensive exploration of the road to nuclear disarmament. The heart of the action plan lay in the elimination of all nuclear weapons in three stages over a period of 22 years. Eighteen of these 22 years had passed with no progress even in the direction of the first stage, he regretted.

“The threat of nuclear proliferation will remain so long as an unequal world nuclear order legitimises the possession of such weapons in some hands, and those threaten the use of these weapons as a way of containing the threat of proliferation,” Aiyar said.



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