A nuclear power, India has reiterated its commitment on Gandhi Jayanti to its policy of ‘No First Use’ of nuclear weapons and to a complete non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament.
“India espouses the policy of ‘No First Use’ against nuclear weapon states and non-use against non-nuclear weapon states,” Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla declared at a high-level meeting of the General Assembly on Friday while clearing any doubts that New Delhi was moving away from it.
Thinking aloud, India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had said last August that “till today, our nuclear policy is ano first use’. What happens in future depends on the circumstances”.
But Pakistan, which does not have a ‘No First Use’ policy, twisted it as a propaganda piece and some Western think tanks and publications amplified it as India was changing it.
But Shringla’s statement clearly set out that there was no change in the policy.
The high-level session was for the UN’s commemoration of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, which was observed this year on October 2, along with the International Day of Non-violence that annually honours Mahatma Gandhi on his birth anniversary.
“Mahatma Gandhi, whose birth anniversary we celebrate today had said, ‘whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it’. It is in this spirit that India is ready to work with other States towards the achievement of the noble goal of world free of nuclear weapons.
“India reiterates its long-standing and unwavering commitment to universal, verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament leading to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons,” Shringla said.
The key phrase in his statement is “non-discriminatory”, which means that there would be no exceptions to nuclear disarmament as it is under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that sets a class of countries that are allowed nukes.
“We believe that nuclear disarmament can be achieved through a step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed multilateral framework,” Shringla said, adding that a meaningful dialogue among all countries with nuclear weapons was needed for building trust and confidence.
Speaking at the UN observance of the International Day of Nonviolence event, India’s Permanent Representative T.S. Tirumurti noted that fittingly the high-level meeting on total elimination of nuclear weapons was also being held on Gandhi’s birth anniversary.