Statement by India during the thematic debate on Nuclear Weapons at the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, October 2020

The steady erosion of disarmament architecture and landmark arms control agreements over the recent years have exposed the world’s military, economic and diplomatic fault lines.  We would like to recall that the final document of the First Special Session of the General Assembly devoted to Disarmament (1978) which cautioned that ‘Nuclear weapons pose the greatest danger to mankind and to the survival of civilization’ should serve as a beacon of light to continue to guide humanity to avert the danger of war involving nuclear weapons and to achieve the ultimate objective of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.

2.     India’s unwavering commitment to nuclear disarmament is well known. India’s pioneering global initiative for a ban on nuclear testing in 1954 and for a non-discriminatory treaty on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, as distinct from non-dissemination, in 1965 and the call for proposed negotiations for an international convention that would prohibit the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in 1978, are testimony to India’s vision and efforts towards the achievement of this objective. 

3.     India is firmly committed to universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable nuclear disarmament.  India strongly believes that this can be achieved in a time bound manner through a step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed global and non-discriminatory multilateral framework; India’s Working Paper, presented to the Conference on Disarmament in 2007, CD/1816 precisely encapsulates this approach through a number of proposals that are undoubtedly relevant till date. India supports the negotiation of a Comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention in the CD.

4.     India, as a responsible nuclear weapon State, as per its nuclear doctrine, has followed a policy of maintaining a credible minimum deterrence, based on a no-first-use posture and non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon States. India is prepared to convert these undertakings into multilateral legal arrangements. India is committed to commence negotiations on all three core issues related to nuclear disarmament in the CD. Furthermore, India also remains committed to maintaining a unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing.  Without prejudice to the priority that we attach to nuclear disarmament, we also support the immediate commencement of negotiations in the CD of a non-discriminatory, multilateral internationally and effectively verifiable Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) on the basis of CD/1299 and the mandate contained therein.

5.     India’s annual resolution, on a “Convention on the Prohibition of the use of Nuclear Weapons”, tabled since 1982 in the UNGA requests the CD to commence negotiations on an international convention prohibiting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances. It reflects our belief that such a multilateral, universal and legally binding agreement would generate necessary political will among States possessing nuclear weapons to engage in negotiations leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Our resolution on ‘Reducing Nuclear Danger’, tabled since 1998 in the UNGA, has drawn global attention to the hair-trigger alert of nuclear weapons carrying unacceptable risks of unintentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons, that would have catastrophic consequences for all humankind. It recognises the need for a review of nuclear doctrines and the need for steps to reduce the risk of unintentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons, including through de-alerting and de-targeting of nuclear weapons. These two resolutions manifest our shared commitment towards the common goal of nuclear disarmament. India requests the continued support of Member States for these two resolutions, which have traditionally enjoyed the overwhelming support of the Membership.

6.     India supports upholding and strengthening global non-proliferation objectives. All States need to be mindful of the growing threat of proliferation of nuclear weapons which poses a grave danger to international peace and security. India has contributed immensely to the global efforts towards non-proliferation and remains committed to do so in the future.

7.     India would like to reiterate that the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, negotiated outside the CD, does not create any obligations for India, which is bound solely by the treaties to which it has given its sovereign consent. India believes that this Treaty, in no way constitutes or contributes to the development of any customary international law. However, India stands ready to work with its signatories to achieve our shared goal of nuclear disarmament.

8.     India is cognizant of the value of mutual trust, understanding, political will and dialogue and stands ready to work with all Member States in the collective endeavour towards realizing the goal of nuclear disarmament.

Permanent Mission of India to the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva