UNITED NATIONS: India on Monday underlined the need for the international community to pay closer attention to the 'illicit proliferation' of networks of nuclear weapons, their delivery systems, components and relevant technologies, in an apparent reference to the nexus between China and Pakistan.
Addressing the UN Security Council Briefing on Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, held under the Irish Presidency, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told the Council that India has actively supported and contributed to the strengthening of the global nuclear security architecture.
There is a need for the international community to pay closer attention to the illicit proliferation of networks of nuclear weapons, their delivery systems, components and relevant technologies, he said.
Shringla's remarks appeared to be a veiled reference to China and its "all-weather ally" Pakistan as concerns have been raised over the export of nuclear materials to Islamabad by Beijing and that they are in violation of international norms and established procedures.
US think tank Arms Control Association had said in one of its reports that China's nuclear cooperation with Pakistan was in contravention with the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
Shringla told the Council that India is committed to the goal of a nuclear weapons-free world and complete elimination of nuclear weapons, consistent with the highest priority accorded to nuclear disarmament by the Final Document of the First Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Disarmament (SSOD-I). "India maintains a voluntary, unilateral moratorium on nuclear explosive testing," Shringla said.
He said India believes this goal can be achieved through a step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed global and non-discriminatory multilateral framework, as outlined in India's Working Paper on Nuclear Disarmament submitted to the UN General Assembly in 2006.
India participated in the Nuclear Security Summit process and has regularly participated in the International Conferences on Nuclear Security organised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
India is also a member of the Nuclear Security Contact Group.
"Without prejudice to the priority we attach to nuclear disarmament, India has expressed its readiness to support the commencement of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT)" in the Conference on Disarmament on the basis of the mandate contained in CD/1299, Shringla said, adding that in this context, India has also participated in the work of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on FMCT and the High-level Expert Preparatory Group (HLEPG) on FMCT.
As per the CD/1299, the Conference on Disarmament decides to establish an ad hoc committee on a "ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices".
The Conference directs the Ad Hoc Committee to negotiate a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
Shringla said India has played a leading role in global efforts towards nuclear disarmament and was the first country to call for a ban on nuclear testing in 1954 and a non-discriminatory treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, as distinct from non-dissemination, in 1965.
While India had participated in the negotiations of the draft Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in the Conference on Disarmament, New Delhi could not join the Treaty as the Treaty did not address a number of core concerns raised by India, he said.
He said India would continue to work in the framework of the Disarmament Triad comprising the Conference on Disarmament, the UN Disarmament Commission and the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, to strengthen the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation architecture.
As the world's sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, the Conference on Disarmament is well placed to advance the global disarmament agenda and negotiate legally binding instruments on items on its core agenda, he said.
India has also contributed to the GGE on Nuclear Disarmament Verification through its membership of the earlier and the current Group of Governmental Experts which will meet later this year in Geneva.
India is a key partner in the global non-proliferation efforts, Shringla said, adding that one of the important steps undertaken by New Delhi in this context is the piloting of an annual UN General Assembly Resolution on "Measures to Prevent Terrorists from Acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction" since 2002, which is adopted by consensus.
"We hope that the international community will continue to work towards realising our collective aspiration for a nuclear weapon-free world," he said.