News

 

Statement made by Ms. Arundhati Ghose, 
Ambassador/Permanent Representative of India to UN
in the Plenary Meeting of the Conference On Disarmament,
Geneva on August 20, 1996.

Mr. President, 

1.Please accept my congratulations on your assumption of the Presidency. With your intense experience of the negotiations on a CTBT in this forum, as Chairman of the Adhoc Committee on the Nuclear Test Ban and Chairman of one of the two working groups, there is perhaps no one, more competent or entitled to preside over this session of the conference as you are. My delegation would also like to express its appreciation to the previous President, Ambassador Urrutia of Peru for the quiet yet supportive way in which he handled what must have been an extremely frustrating tenure. 

2.Mr. President, we have just been presented with a Report of the Adhoc Committee on a Nuclear Test Ban by its redoubtable Chairman, Ambassador Jaap Ramaker of the Netherlands. I shall not shower any encomiums on him just now, as he is still the Chairman and the work of the Adhoc Committee has still to be completed. I cannot, however, permit this opportunity to pass without thanking him for his untiring efforts, supported by his delegation, in trying to guide the deliberations of the Adhoc Committee with calmness and determination. 

3.This report, Mr. President which has just been presented says it all. We were regrettably unable in spite of the best efforts of all delegations to reach consensus on a CTBT at this point in time. Several texts were presented during the negotiations. That there was, albeit qualified, support for the one proposed by Ambassador Ramaker on 14th August is clear from the Report. What is also clear is that may countries, mainly from the G-21 Group of neutral and non-aligned countries had grave reservations on this text. Indeed, many had wished for the negotiations to continue so that we could have, perhaps, been able to reach what we had been mandated to negotiate, a universal, multilaterally negotiated consensus text. Unfortunately this was not to be. 

4.Mr. President, for two and half years, we engaged in intensive negotiations to conclude a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Over the years a CTBT had become a symbol of hope for progress towards nuclear disarmament. India led the call for a CTBT in 1954 and had co-sponsored many of the resolutions that helped build the international momentum behind it. It is a matter of considerable regret therefore that present efforts, fell far short of what we had set out to achieve. 

5.In January 1994, we gave ourselves the mandate 'to negotiate intensively a universal and multilaterally and effectively verifiable Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which would contribute effectively to the prevention of proliferation of nuclear weapons in all its aspects, to the process of nuclear disarmament and therefore to the enhancement of international peace and security.' It reflected the different objectives that delegations sought to achieve but also the imperative of a balance. Our approach in the negotiations had been to try and ensure this balance. Unfortunately the text which was presented in its latest version by the Chairman on 14th August did not reflect this balance and therefore did not do justice to the mandate. We believe that the text, in fact, failed the intent of the mandate. The urgent challenge before the world community in the closing years of the century - of capping vertical proliferation and qualitative upgradation of nuclear weapons, as well as the advance down the road to eliminating nuclear weapons from the face of the earth, which should have been heralded by the CTBT, remain as much out of reach as ever. Only the ends of horizontal non-proliferation are reinforced. 

6.As negotiations progressed, we witnessed an evolving text moving away from the mandate. We have some experience of this . The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which was extended indefinitely in 1995, was also a treaty that had been originally sponsored by India and other countries as a major disarmament measure, and which, during negotiations, had been distorted to one which instead divided the world into nuclear haves and have-nots with its indefinite extension, nuclear weapons were sought to be legitimised in the hands of the nuclear weapon states forever. The arguments put forward by these countries before the International Court of Justice, immediately after the NPT extension, reiterated their understanding that the NPT had legitimised not only indefinite possession of nuclear weapons by them but also their right to use them. The world was burdened indefinitely with a differential notion of sovereignty - one entitled to nuclear weapons and another not. This cannot be the basis on which a sane and secure world order can be erected. The CTBT should have represented a historic departure for mankind towards a shared goal of a nuclear weapon free world. 

7.During the negotiations on the CTBT, we tried, through constructive suggestions, to remove some of these shortcomings. Our first attempt was to place the CTBT within the disarmament framework by defining it as the first step in the process of achieving nuclear disarmament within a time bound framework. Given that preambular references to nuclear disarmament in other treaties have been ignored, we felt that such a reference would be more meaningful if contained in the operative part of a Treaty Text. We were not seeking to prescribe a specific time frame, which we realise requires detailed consideration. What we were seeking was a commitment which could have acted as a catalyst for multilateral negotiations for the elimination of nuclear weapons within a reasonable span of time. The striving itself would have rendered the momentum irreversible. 

8.We have always believed that the objective of a CTBT was to bring about an end to nuclear weapons development. We are all aware that nuclear explosion technology is only one of the technologies available to the nuclear weapon states. Technologies relating to sub-critical testing, advanced computer simulation using extensive data relating to previous explosive testing and weapon related applications of laser ignition will lead to fourth generation nuclear weapons, even with a ban on explosive testing. It is a fact that weapons related R&D in these technologies is being promoted. Our objective therefore was a truly Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty rather than merely a nuclear test explosion ban treaty. For many years we had been told that a CTBT was nit possible because testing was required for safety and reliability of existing nuclear weapons. We questioned it then and now we know that we were right. Today, undergoing explosion technology has the same relevance to halting development of nuclear weapons by the nuclear weapon States as banning atmospheric tests did in 1963. A truly comprehensive treaty should have fossilised the technology of nuclear weapons. 

9.Despite our efforts, these concerns were not addressed and nor did India's proposals receive adequate consideration. The draft text, as we saw it emerging, was a cause for concern. Inspite of our emphasising these concerns in the negotiations repeatedly, we found that these had been ignored in the text presented in May by the Chairman as "platform for reaching final agreement". We clearly stated then that we will not be able to subscribe to that text. In a later version put forward by the chairman the situation remained unchanged. As a result we were obliged to reiterate that India could not subscribe to the Chairman's draft Treaty text. 

10.Mr President, after we made our decisions known, the Article on Entry into Force was modified in the revised version of the Chairman's text, apparently at the insistence of a small number of countries with the clear aim of imposing obligations on India and placing it in a position in which it did not wish to be. Such a provision has no parallel. The procedure adopted despite India's declares disassociation with the draft text, has been perceived very negatively in our capital. We should have hoped that the working of the CD would have been more transparent. It is unprecedented in multilateral negotiations and international law that a sovereign country should be denied it's right of voluntary consent on adherence to an international treaty. We therefore expressed our strongest objection to the formulation of the Article XIV in the Chairman's text. Those that are insistent on this provision had been well aware of the clear position of India on the insistence? The CD is a multilateral negotiating forum of the sovereign states. Insistence on such provisions which run contrary to International legal norms and practice will erode the standing and credibility of the CD, which is the sole multilateral negotiating body for disarmament. 

11.Mr. President, the perception of the Chairman's text which I have delineated above is shared across the Indian political spectrum. The Chairman's text did not serve the purpose of promoting the realisation of the universal disarmament goals. Continuing nuclear weapon development and proliferation in our region which raise national security concerns for us, were in no way addressed by his text. Further , the sentiment against the attempted duress embodied in the Article on Entry into Force is equally strong. We deeply regret that despite our clear views and efforts towards an alternate approach, it was not found possible to take this step. This refusal to recognise our legitimate left India with no option but to oppose the adoption of the Chairman's text in the Ad-Hoc Committee. Our opposition to that text continues . We would not, therefore, agree to it being forwarded to the UNGA in any form by this conference. We are aware that GA resolution 50/65 has expressed the readiness of the GA to resume its considerations of the item 65 on the CTBT before the 51st session - with a view to endorsing the text. Mr. President, the Conference of Disarmament has no text of a CTBT to recommend to the GA at this time. Our commitment to nuclear disarmament by continuing to work towards achieving the objective of a nuclear weapon-free world, remains undiminished. 

Thank You Mr. President.