Despite strong opposition from nuclear-armed nations including India, the United Nations members have voted overwhelmingly to start negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.
The General Assembly's First Committee, which deals with disarmament and international security, adopted the draft resolution yesterday on nuclear disarmament negotiations. Through the resolution, the General Assembly would reiterate that the universal objective of taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations remains the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons.
The resolution emphasises the importance of addressing issues related to nuclear weapons in a comprehensive, inclusive, interactive and constructive manner, for the advancement of multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.
It also decided to convene in 2017 a United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination. The resolution was adopted with 123 votes in favour, 38 against and 16 abstentions.
India was among the 16 nations who decided to skip the voting saying ‘it is not convinced the move can lead to a comprehensive instrument on nuclear disarmament’.
Permanent Representative of India to the Conference on Disarmament DB Venkatesh Varma said India has been "constrained" to abstain on the resolution and it is "not convinced" that the proposed conference in 2017 "can address the longstanding expectation of the international community for a comprehensive instrument on nuclear disarmament.
He said continued dialogue and consultation is necessary to bridge the current divides on nuclear disarmament which remain "deep and substantive".
"India attaches the highest priority to nuclear disarmament and shares with the co-sponsors the widely felt frustration that the international community has not been able to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. We also share the deep concern about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons," Varma said in the explanation of vote.
He said India did not participate in the open-ended working group which met in Geneva during 2016 and so it reserves its position on its report and the recommendations.
"India has supported the commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a Comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention, which in addition to prohibition and elimination also includes verification. International verification would be essential to the global elimination of nuclear weapons, just as it has been in the case of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Progress on nuclear disarmament in the CD should remain an international priority," he said.
India has asserted that there is no question of it joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon State.
With PTI Inputs