India facing ‘serious challenge’ preventing drone-driven cross-border supply of illicit weapons: Ambassador Kamboj at UNSC

Speaking at the UN Security Council, Ruchira Kamboj asserted that “certain states with dubious proliferation credentials” that collude with terrorists should be held accountable for their “misdeeds”

April 11, 2023 12:03 pm | Updated April 12, 2023 12:24 am IST - United Nations

Fie photo of India’s Permanent Ambassador to United Nations Ruchira Kamboj.

Fie photo of India’s Permanent Ambassador to United Nations Ruchira Kamboj. | Photo Credit: ANI

India is facing a “serious challenge" of cross-border supply of illicit weapons using drones, which cannot be possible without active support from State authorities, New Delhi’s envoy said in an apparent reference to Pakistan.

Speaking at the UN Security Council's open debate on ‘Threats to International Peace and Security: Risks Stemming from Violations of Agreements Regulating the Exports of Weapons and Military Equipments’ held on April 10 under Russia’s Presidency of the Council for the month of April, India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj also asserted that "certain states with dubious proliferation credentials” that collude with terrorists should be held accountable for their “misdeeds”.

“The export of weapons and military equipment in violation of international law, exacerbating geo-political tensions, cannot be ignored,” she said.

She said that the quantum of these threats multiplies when “certain states with dubious proliferation credentials, in view of their masked proliferation networks and deceptive procurement practices of sensitive goods and technologies, collude with terrorists and other non-state actors”.

“For example, the rise in volume and the quality of the small arms acquired by terrorist organisations remind us time and again that they cannot exist without the sponsorship or support of States,” Ms. Kamboj said.

Also read |‘Exporter of terrorists’: India slams Pakistan at 146th Inter-Parliamentary Union in Bahrain

Speaking further, she said that in India’s context, “we are facing a serious challenge of cross-border supply of illicit weapons using drones, which cannot be possible without active support from the authorities in control of those territories,” an apparent reference to Pakistan.

Pakistani drones carrying arms and drugs have been shot down very often by India's Border Security Force (BSF).

The most recent incident was reported on April 1 when the BSF said its troops opened fire at a suspected Pakistani drone along the International Border in Jammu. It was the second such incident since mid March.

Ms. Kamboj called on the international community to “condemn such behaviour and hold such states accountable for their misdeeds”.

Ukraine crisis

Russian Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia told the Council that Moscow repeatedly called meetings of the Security Council to address the dangerous consequences of “pumping up” the Kyiv regime with weapons, which clearly illustrate the risks of violating the obligations in the area of WME control.

“Regardless of the approaches of certain countries to the developments in Ukraine, these risks are quite real and can apply to any other region. It is the duty of the Security Council to respond to them and discuss, including jointly with other member states, possible measures to stop such risks,” he said.

He added that the West is “not interested in putting an end to the crisis in Ukraine”.

They would rather want that the crisis continues, which they do not hesitate to say out loud, he said.

Ambassador Robert Wood of the U.S., Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs, said at the open debate that the greatest risk of illicit trafficking comes from battlefield capture of weapons by Russia and pro-Russia forces.

"Russia has proposed that it would supply captured weapons to separatists in eastern Ukraine. These statements and actions are dangerous and irresponsible," Mr. Wood said.

Mr. Wood added that Russia has also turned to rogue regimes to try to unlawfully obtain weapons and equipment to support its military operations.

He said in November 2022, North Korea delivered infantry rockets and missiles to Russia for use by the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group, and “we know Russia is actively seeking to acquire additional munitions” from North Korea.

“Such arms transfers from the DPRK to Russia directly violate Security Council resolutions. These actions, particularly by a permanent member of the Security Council, are deeply disturbing and only fuel Moscow’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine,” he said.

Mr. Wood noted that Iran has also transferred UAVs to Russia, a fact Iran’s foreign minister acknowledged in public statements on November 5.

Ms. Kamboj said the illicit transfer and illegal diversion of arms, including conventional arms and ammunitions, Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), as well as Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), their delivery systems and related materials, equipment, and technology to non-state actors, including armed and terrorist groups, pose serious threats to international peace and security.

“The unravelling of the global disarmament architecture and landmark arms control agreements raise deep concerns about the edifice built over several decades, and the uncertainties that lie on the road ahead,” she added.

Ms. Kamboj stressed that the pursuit of the prevention of unregulated trade in conventional weapons and related dual-use goods and technologies “cannot restrict and should not prejudice the legitimate right of states to engage in arms trade for self-defence and in pursuit of their foreign policy and national security interests.”

It is important to strike a balance between the obligations of exporters and importers, without unduly hampering legitimate trade in conventional arms, she said.

Ms. Kamboj asserted that India has been consistent in stressing the importance of addressing the rapid evolution of proliferation risks due to new and emerging technologies, particularly access to WMDs, their means of delivery and related materials, equipment and technology by terrorist groups and other non-state actors.

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