India for no-first use agreement on N-weapons

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New Delhi, Nov 14: India today called for formalising a no- first use agreement internationally as the first step towards de-legitimising nuclear weapons for total nuclear disarmament.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, at a function here, said India had adopted a comprehensive export control system, harmonised with best international practices, and reiterated commitment to nuclear disarmament through a Working Paper submitted to the UN General Assembly.

''We believe that a good beginning would be to formalise a no-first use agreement internationally as a step towards de-legitimising nuclear weapons. This approach was adopted in 1925 in the Geneva Protocol on Chemical and Biological Weapons and ultimately led to their elimination,'' he said at the inauguration of the new campus of the Foreign Services Institute (FSI).

Describing proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) and the posssibility of their falling into the hands of terrorists as among the most critical challenges facing the world today, the Minister said the issue could not be addressed merely by focussing on supply-side technology controls.

''The so called A Q Khan network made a mockery of these controls,'' he said while stressing the need for a new approach prioritising disarmament.

Listing various challenges before the international community, the External Affairs Minister said another priority had to be ''significant diminution'', if not outright elimination, of the threat of war and conflict.

Expressing concern over the situation in the neighbourhood, he called for blending national and international priorities for ensuring a peaceful periphery for the country's and the region's development.

He also re-affirmed the need for democratising the UN Security Council (UNSC) and a rightful place for India in an expanded Council.

''...the composition of the UN Security Council too needs to come to terms with present reality and reflect future potential. This premier institution of global governance needs to be democratised and India needs to find its rightful place in an expanded Council,'' he added.

Mr Mukherjee also underlined the need for applying democratic principles to global governance.

He asked diplomats to facilitate developmental process, promote trade and investmennt flows, secure predictable and affordable energy supplies and ensure the widest possible access to technologies.

In that endeavour, while the primary development effort had to be national, there was a neeed to leverage international partnerships to the best possible effect, the Minister said.


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