Sandeep Dikshit

NEW DELHI: India has adopted a guarded approach to the report on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament released by the Prime Ministers of Japan and Australia in Tokyo on Tuesday.

“The focus remains very much on what could be done to shore up the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT] in the run-up to the 2010 conference,” informed sources said. While endorsing some of the provisions, the sources were dismayed by the report’s observations on the new found enthusiasm for civil nuclear energy by some countries, which could be a possible source of proliferation. However, the former National Security Adviser, Brajesh Mishra, one of the commissioners on the panel, did not endorse the perception. “They have not targeted India,” he said.

“Despite some positive elements, the report has missed an important opportunity to advance the debate on nuclear disarmament. It does not take some promising ideas on reducing the role of nuclear weapons, building partnerships with non-NPT states and on taking multilateral negotiations to their logical conclusion. The report also does not recognise the ambiguity in the NPT regime such as the issue of dealing with placement of nuclear weapons of one country [the U.S.] on the territory of other nations [NATO allies] such as Germany and Belgium. This complication has been completely sidestepped,” the sources said.

India also opposes the recommendation to apply equivalent non-proliferation and disarmament obligations to “the three elephants in the room” — India, Pakistan and Israel — who will not join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; nor will the NPT admit them as nuclear weapon states. “This ignores the differentiated nuclear histories and records of all the nuclear-armed states. The advocacy of non-proliferation disciplines for non-NPT states also ignores India’s existing commitments and responsible behaviour in comparison with the NPT five and Pakistan,” they said.

The report of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, ‘Eliminating Nuclear Threats: A Practical Agenda for Global Policymakers,’ was prepared by the former Foreign Ministers, Gareth Evans of Australia, and Yoriko Kawaguchi of Japan.

India welcomed the report’s advocacy of delegitimising nuclear weapons and suggesting a no-first-use or a modified no-first-use. “This is in keeping with India’s position,” said the sources. New Delhi also endorsed the idea of a nuclear weapons convention as the preferred platform for nuclear disarmament. But the report’s suggestion for a phased approach to total disarmament without a final deadline fell short of India’s position of a timeline for total elimination of nuclear weapons conceptualised in the Rajiv Gandhi proposal for disarmament.