UN treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons not binding on India, says govt

UN treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons not binding on India, says govt

UN treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons not binding on India, says govt
India on Tuesday it was not a party to a treaty recently adopted by 122 countries at a United Nations conference to prohibit nuclear weapons.

The Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement in New Delhi to clarify that India had not participated in the negotiations on a treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, which had been concluded at a UN conference in New York on July 7.

The treaty was the first multilateral instrument for nuclear disarmament to have been negotiated in 20 years.

New Delhi, however, pointed out that not only India, but also none of the other nations possessing nuclear weapons had participated in the negotiations on the treaty.

“India, therefore, cannot be a party to the treaty, and so shall not be bound by any of the obligations that may arise from it. India believes that this treaty in no way constitutes or contributes to the development of any customary international law,” Gopal Baglay, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said.

A United Nations conference in New York on July 7 adopted the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the first multilateral legally-binding instrument for nuclear disarmament to have been negotiated in 20 years.

The treaty was adopted by a vote of 122 in favour to one against with one. The Netherlands voted against the treaty, while Singapore abstained. India and other nuclear-armed nations, United States, Russia, United Kingdom, China, France, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel, had not participated in the negotiations for the treaty.

The treaty will prohibit a full range of nuclear-weapon-related activities, such as undertaking to develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, as well as the use or threat of use of these weapons.

The treaty was negotiated in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution 71/258 adopted on December 23, 2016. India had abstained on the resolution, as it had not been convinced that the proposed UN conference in 2017 convened under UN General Assembly rules of procedure to negotiate a treaty for prohibiting nuclear weapons could “address the longstanding expectation of the international community for a comprehensive instrument on nuclear disarmament”. India had argued on March 21 this year that the right place to negotiate such a treaty would be Geneva-based Confernnce of Disarmament, which had been set up by the international community in 1979 to negotiate multilateral arms control and disarmament agreements.

“India supports the commencement of negotiations on a comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention in the Conference on Disarmament, which is the world's single multilateral disarmament negotiation forum working on the basis of consensus,” said Baglay.

He also reiterated New Delhi's commitment to the goal of a nuclear weapon free world. “India believes that 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,” the MEA spokesperson stated.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will be open for signature to all nations at the UN Headquarters in New York on September 20, and enter into force 90 days after it had been ratified by at least 50 countries.
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