India has argued that non-proliferation obligations arise from treaties to which states are parties and that any question of non-compliance has to be addressed in accordance with those treaties or agreements and not by the Security Council over-reaching its mandate.

In a letter to the U.N. Security Council president aimed at distancing India from the September 24 resolution on non-proliferation, Ambassador Hardeep Puri also insisted that India cannot accept obligations stemming from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) or agreements it has not signed or externally prescribed norms that infringe its sovereignty, national interest and constitution.

India also emphasized that the International Atomic Energy Agency’s authority to apply safeguards or verify undeclared nuclear activity is not open ended but “is derived from specific safeguards agreements it enters into with member states”. Mr. Puri’s letter noted, in this context, that India had concluded a number of agreements and reciprocal commitments as part of its civil nuclear initiative.

Taken together, the Indian stand represents not just a defence of the country’s status as an exception to the NPT regime but a reversion to its traditional arguments on disarmament. New Delhi had tended not to emphasise these over the past few years, perhaps in keeping with Washington’s approach during the Bush administration. But with Mr. Obama’s team harking back to the non-proliferation agenda of the previous decade, India now feels more comfortable returning to its long-held positions.

Another indication of further differences brewing over the horizon was provided by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s renewed demand for India and the seven other countries that have not signed or ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to join Washington in making a push for accession.

Speaking at a conference of CTBT state parties to promote the entry into force of the treaty on Thursday, Ms. Clinton said that as the Obama administration worked with the Senate to ratify the CTBT, “we will encourage other countries to play their part --- including the eight remaining Annex 2 countries. Those who haven’t signed should sign. Those, like us, who haven’t ratified, should ratify”.