NEW DELHI: About six months after the Prime Minister’s Group on Nuclear Disarmament submitted its report, the Ministry of External Affairs expressed concurrence with the report’s recommendations and sought building a national opinion on the issue.
Minister of External Affairs S M Krishna at a meeting with the informal group on Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan for a Nuclear Weapon-free and Non-violent World Order led by Mani Shankar Aiyar said,”most of the recommendations are consistent with the government policies.” “We would encourage the group to undertake awareness-raising efforts within the country including networking of think-tanks and groups that could be useful to build national opinion,” Krishna is said to have told the group of interlocutors. The 284-page report submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on August 20, 2011 was made public on Friday. The report outlines a seven-point roadmap for “capping, reducing and eliminating” nuclear weapons and 14 other recommendations.
It also reiterates India’s commitment in eliminating its own arsenal as part of a universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable global process and promoting de-legitimising of nuclear weapons to set the stage for “negotiating Nuclear Weapons Convention that would discuss a world without nuclear weapons in a specified time frame”. The report suggests using the now almost ‘non-relevant’ Non-Alignment Movement to pursue a nuclear weapon-free world.
The group, comprising senior diplomats, experts and military personnel, says that India as a “State with Nuclear Weapons” should take the lead in seeking a legal ban on the use of nuclear weapons and also in eliminating them. Aiyar, also a Rajya Sabha MP, said that the recent shift in Washington’s “nuclear posture” with President Barack Obama declaring that the country would consider the possibility of eliminating nuclear weapons is a “game changer”. With India’s efforts for a nuke-free world meeting resistance with its “nuclear-armed” neighbours-- specifically China and Pakistan -- the group would be deliberating with them to bring them on the same page.
The MP said that he was in talks with Chinese and Pakistan experts on initiating trilateral discussions on nuclear disarmament.