India upset over panel's report on non-proliferation

India upset over panel's report on non-proliferation

The report of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND), which was launched in Tokyo on Tuesday, advocated applying equivalent non-proliferation and disarmament obligations to the three non-NPT States — India, Israel and Pakistan. It ignored the differentiated nuclear histories and records of all the nuclear-armed states.

But the silver lining for India is that the report advocates granting non-NPT countries access to nuclear materials and technology for civilian purposes, provided they show a strong commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation. This is likely to help New Delhi question the decision of the Australian government led by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd not to sell uranium for civilian nuclear facilities in India until the latter signs the NPT.

The report acknowledges the reality that the “three white elephants outside the room” (India, Israel and Pakistan) will not join the NPT as non-nuclear weapon states, nor will the NPT admit the three as nuclear weapon states.

Rudd and the then Japanese Prime Minister Yusuo Fukuda had set up the ICNND in July 2008. Former foreign ministers of Australia and Japan, Gareth Evans and Yoriko Kawaguchi, who jointly headed the commission, submitted the report to Rudd and his current Japanese counterpart Yukio Hatoyama in Tokyo on Tuesday.

The stated aim of the global panel was invigorate non-proliferation and disarmament efforts in the run-up to the 2010 NPT Review Conference and beyond.
The ICNND claimed that the 230-page report as the “unanimous product of an independent global panel of 15 commissioners, supported by a high-level international advisory board and worldwide network of research centres.” India’s former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra was one of the commissioners of the ICNND, which had its South Asia regional meeting in New Delhi last October.

Diplomatic sources in New Delhi pointed out that the report advocated non-proliferation ‘disciplines’ for non-NPT states, ignoring India’s “existing commitments and responsible behaviour” in comparison with the five nuclear-weapon states of the NPT framework and Pakistan.

The ICNND advocated a staged approach towards disarmament without a final deadline. It recommended that a “minimisation point” of a total no more than 2,000 nuclear warheads should be reached by 2025. This should be followed up by moves towards a world free of nuclear weapons, it added. New Delhi, however, is of the view that the global panel missed an “important opportunity” to advance the debate on nuclear disarmament and did not take some promising ideas on reducing the role of nuclear weapons, on building partnerships between NPT and non-NPT states and on multilateral negotiations on disarmament to their logical conclusion.
“The focus (of the report) remains very much on what can be done to shore up the NPT in the run up to the 2010 conference,” an Indian analyst observed after studying the ICNND report.