India on Saturday reiterated that nuclear weapons should be abolished in a step-by-step non-discriminatory process. Addressing the High-level Meeting to Commemorate and Promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla also said India remains committed to “ No First Use ” against nuclear weapon states.
“We believe that nuclear disarmament can be achieved through a step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed multilateral framework. India remains convinced of the need for meaningful dialogue among all States possessing nuclear weapons, for building trust and confidence,” said Mr. Shringla in the virtual message.
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The comments indicate that India has not revised its key principles regarding the weapons in its arsenal. Following the election victory in 2019, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had hinted at a possibility of changing the No First Use (NFU) principle by declaring that ‘circumstances’ will determine the “No First Use” stance.
“Pokhran is the area which witnessed Atalji’s firm resolve to make India a nuclear power and yet remain firmly committed to the doctrine of NFU. India has strictly adhered to this doctrine. What happens in future depends on the circumstances,” Mr. Singh had said on the death anniversary of the late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
However, Mr. Shringla said on Saturday, “India espouses the policy of ‘No First Use’ against nuclear weapon states and non-use against non-nuclear weapon states. India is a key partner in global efforts towards disarmament and strengthening the non-proliferation order.”
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Expressing the position on negotiating disarmament, Mr. Shringla said the Conference on Disarmament (CD) remains the “world’s single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum” and India supports holding of negotiations on a Comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention at the CD. India also remains committed to negotiations regarding a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty in the CD on the basis of the report of the Special Coordinator or CD/1299 which dates to March 24, 1995.
The consultations under CD/1299 laid down the “most appropriate arrangement to negotiate a Treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices”.