India asks world to attend to ‘neighbourhood’ security problems
* New Delhi claims its nuclear programme defensive in nature
By Iftikhar Gilani
NEW DELHI: India asked the international community on Monday to attend to its security problems emanating “from its neighbourhood” because of the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
In a reference to Pakistan, External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh said India’s security had been undermined and the international community should change its “uneven approach” and address the problem in a “holistic manner”. He claimed India’s nuclear programme was defensive in nature and the country was ready to start negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention. He suggested the international community should “review and re-evaluate” existing frameworks to adapting them to “current political realities”.
Inaugurating a seminar ‘Emerging Nuclear Proliferation Challenges’, Singh said, “The non-proliferation order is coming under stress because of the failure to make any significant progress towards nuclear disarmament and the failure to prevent clandestine proliferation by members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).”
India has a shared interest in preventing proliferation as “our security has been undermined by such proliferation”, said the external affairs minister. He said India should have the right to “retain freedom of thought and to take steps necessary for its national security as well as to meet international concerns arising out of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), especially its linkages with terrorism”.
Emphasising that India had an interest in non-proliferation of WMD not only for its own security but also for peace and security of the world at large, Singh sought global nuclear disarmament in a time bound framework. “There should be a commitment from those in possession of nuclear weapons to cease the further production of fissile material,” he added. He said the NPT addressed only one part of the proliferation challenge.
“India may not be a party to the NPT but its conduct has always been consistent with the key positions of the treaty, as they apply to nuclear weapon states,” said Singh. He said, “We have repeatedly declared that we shall maintain only a minimum credible deterrent. We have stated that the role of India’s nuclear weapons is entirely defensive.”