India firm on verifiable nuclear disarmament: Shringla

India committed to goal of non-discriminatory, verifiable nuclear disarmament: Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla. Credit: PTI File Photo

India, as a responsible nuclear weapon state, is committed to maintaining credible minimum deterrence with the posture of no-first-use and non-use against non-nuclear-weapon states, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Monday.

Addressing the high-level segment of the Conference on Disarmament, Shringla said India is also committed to the goal of universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable nuclear disarmament.

"We need to rise above our differences, and demonstrate political will and genuine intent to find consensus to deliver on our collective mandate. Those resorting to politicisation only weaken the mandate of this body," he said.

As the world's single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, as mandated by the Special Session on Disarmament (SSOD)-1, the Conference on Disarmament's agenda deals with critical challenges of disarmament and international security facing the international community, he noted.

Shringla asserted that India advocates a comprehensive and balanced programme of work to enable the conference to commence negotiations on issues of pressing global importance.

"India is committed to the goal of universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable nuclear disarmament. Our call for complete elimination of nuclear weapons through a step-by-step process, as also outlined in our Working Paper on Nuclear Disarmament submitted to the Conference on Disarmament in 2007 has an enduring relevance," he said.

India reiterates its call to undertake the steps outlined in the working paper, including negotiation in the Conference on Disarmament of a Comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention, the foreign secretary said.

He said India has supported the immediate commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT).

"I reaffirm today, India’s readiness to participate in FMCT negotiations in the CD," Shringla said.

India, as a responsible nuclear weapon state, is committed as per its nuclear doctrine, to maintain credible minimum deterrence with the posture of no-first use and non-use against non-nuclear weapon states, he said.

Shringla said Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS), is another long standing item on the Conference on Disarmament’s agenda and India looks forward to an early start of negotiations of a legally binding instrument on PAROS to address pressing issues relating to space security.

The High-Level Segment of the Conference on Disarmament is being held under the presidency of Brazil.

In his address, Shringla pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has been perhaps the most disruptive global event in our collective memory and while the pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities, it has also underlined the need for global solidarity and strengthened multilateralism.

"Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi, by delivering on his promise at the UNGA to make Indian manufactured vaccines affordable and accessible to all of humanity, has once again shown that India is a force for global good," he said.

"We have the same approach to global issues, including those pertaining to international security and peace. In this regard, India is also making an important contribution as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2021-22," Shringla said.

India has welcomed the extension of the New START Treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States, he said but added that much work needs to be done by "us in the Conference on Disarmament".

In line with the SSOD-1’s emphasis on promoting expertise in disarmament and in empowering younger generations, India has hosted a fully funded Annual Disarmament and International Security Fellowship Programme for the last two years to advance disarmament education, he pointed out.

Shringla invited fellow member states to participate in this programme.

He also said this conference has been plagued for too long by fear, suspicion and mistrust.

"As Mahatma Gandhi said, the only cure for fear is faith; for suspicion, sincerity; and for mistrust, trust," the foreign secretary said.

This is just what the conference needs today, to break its long deadlock and make concrete progress, he asserted.

India stands ready to play its role and work with fellow member states to achieve our collective objectives, Shringla added.

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