Event ReportsPublished on Jun 07, 2011
Senator Douglas Roche has urged the India to lead the movement for disarmament of nuclear weapons, saying India under the leadership of Dr. Manmohan Singh was serious about nuclear disarmament.
Nuclear bomb not the ultimate answer to national security: Mani Shankar Aiyar

Senator Douglas Roche has once again urged  India to lead the movement for disarmament of nuclear weapons, saying that India under its current leadership of Dr. Manmohan Singh was serious about nuclear disarmament.

Delivering a talk on ’Nuclear Disarmament’ at Observer Research Foundation on 7 June, he pointed out that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had appointed a group of experts to examine the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan (RGAP) for global abolition of nuclear weapons, first introduced in 1988, and its feasibility in today’s geopolitical situations.

Senator Roche said these efforts should propel India to lead a new discussion for a global and legal ban on nuclear weapons. He urged India to be a principle player in saving the world from the threat of a mass destruction.

Appreciating India’s willingness to work for disarmament despite having security concerns in the neighbourhood, Senator Roche said India’s votes at the United Nations indicated its willingness to work towards a nuclear weapons convention.

Senator Roche called the RGAP 1988 as "a lost opportunity" as it could not gather the attention it deserved.

He said there were 22000 nuclear weapons worldwide, located at 111 sites in 14 countries. He also discussed the Middle Powers Initiative’s (MPI) new brief which in essence talked about starting the collective preparatory work leading to the enactment of a universal, verifiable and enforceable legal ban on nuclear weapons.

Senator Roche highlighted the urgent nature of the issue as he pointed out the threats such as proliferation and terrorist organisations’ desire to obtain a nuclear weapon. He said by taking steps like reducing the stockpiles and modernising nuclear weapons at the same time only leads to a two class nuclear world which was not survivable.

He said it was not possible to contain other states from acquiring nuclear weapons till the stockpiles were eliminated by the states that possessed them. He admitted that there was not a single comprehensive and intensive treaty that treated all countries equally but he believed that the momentum was turning as willingness was being shown by the nuclear weapon states to work towards a convention banning nuclear weapons. He gave the example of President Obama inviting even the non signatories of the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) for the nuclear summit.

Senator Roche said he understood why India had rejected the NPT and felt that the NPT under its current mechanism was incapable of solving the problem. He urged the nations and civil societies to push this momentum towards nuclear disarmament.

Taking questions from the audience about his views on the Chinese stance which essentially demands the global powers to bring down their number of stock piles to their level, he said that it will not benefit any state by refusing to participate in the preparatory discussions.

The discussion highlighted the significance of the role played by civil societies and the need for the governments to build public support for nuclear disarmament. It felt that there was a need to fill the communication gap between the civil society and the government.

Responding to concerns raised by experts regarding India leading the nuclear disarmament debate when it faced security challenges in its neighbourhood, Senator Roche said that there was a need to understand the common dangers and move ahead despite the tensions in the neighbourhood. He said that it was important to build a renewed security architecture that would address the insecurity amongst nations who possess nuclear weapons to counter the conventional strength of their opponent.

The need for the resolution to be made in the general assembly, the importance of a time line to achieve set goals and inclusion of Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) systems during discussions was highlighted by experts.

Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar, Member of Parliament, who chaired the discussion, said it was important to recognise the dangers of the neighbourhood but at the same time move towards nuclear disarmament. If India and its neighbours participated in a global effort to abolish nuclear weapons, it will lead to a neighbourhood without threat from nuclear weapons.

Mr. Aiyar said that possessing a nuclear bomb was not the ultimate answer to national security. The availability of nuclear weapons was a greater threat than terrorists acquiring a nuclear weapon. Lack of availability will automatically deprive terrorists access to such weapons. Quoting the RGAP, he said that nuclear disarmament was the first step towards peace which should be backed up with a world philosophy of non violence.

(This report was prepared by Rahul Prakash, Research Intern, at Observer Research Foundation)

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