Not bound by July 7 UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons, says India

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New Delhi, July 18 (IANS) After it stayed away from a July 7 voting at the UN to permanently ban nuclear weapons, India said on Tuesday that it continues to remain committed to universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable nuclear disarmament but “cannot be a party to the Treaty” and would “not be bound by any of the obligations that may arise from it”.

In a statement, India also said that it believes that the July 7 Treaty, which was participated in by 122 countries, “in no way constitutes or contributes to the development of any customary international law”.

The statement from the Ministry of External Affairs said India did not participate in the negotiations on a Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons which were concluded in New York on July 7. It said that none of the other States possessing nuclear weapons participated in the negotiations.

India and other nuclear-armed nations — the US, Russia, Britain, China, France, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel — did not participate in the negotiations or the voting.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the first multilateral legally-binding instrument for nuclear disarmament to have been negotiated in 20 years, was adopted on July 7 amid cheers and applause by a vote of 122 in favour to one against (Netherlands) and one abstention (Singapore).

In the statement, India said that the negotiations were conducted under the UN General Assembly rules of procedure, pursuant to UN General Assembly Resolution 71/258 of December 23, 2016. India had abstained on this Resolution and provided a detailed Explanation of Vote. India had further expressed its position on the issue of its non-participation in these negotiations at a Plenary of the Conference on Disarmament on March 28, 2017.

“India, therefore, cannot be a party to the Treaty, and so shall not be bound by any of the obligations that may arise from it. India believes that this Treaty in no way constitutes or contributes to the development of any customary international law.”

The statement said India reiterates its commitment to the goal of a nuclear weapons free world. India believes that this goal can be achieved through a step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed global and non-discriminatory multilateral framework.

In this regard, India supports the commencement of negotiations on a comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention in the Conference on Disarmament, which is the world’s single multilateral disarmament negotiation forum working on the basis of consensus, the statement said.

The US, France, and Britain, which too did not participate in the treaty, had issued a joint statement following the July 7 vote: “We do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it. Therefore, there will be no change in the legal obligations on our countries with respect to nuclear weapons. For example, we would not accept any claim that this treaty reflects or in any way contributes to the development of customary international law.”

In October last year, more than 120 nations had voted on a UN General Assembly resolution to convene a conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.

India had abstained from voting on the October resolution and also kept away from a substantive session held in March this year to negotiate the legally binding instrument aimed at prohibiting nuclear weapons.

In December 2016, the General Assembly voted by 113 in favour to hold treaty negotiations, despite objections from Britain, France, Russia, the US and 34 other countries. All NATO allies except the Netherlands opposed negotiations. China, India, Japan, Pakistan and South Korea abstained.

The nuclear ban treaty will be open for signatures from all UN member states beginning in September this year and will officially enter into force after 50 states have accepted it.

–IANS

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