India and the US have mooted a dialogue among all states possessing nuclear weapons with an aim of universal and non-discriminatory global nuclear disarmament in the 21st century.
This could set the tone for a new order on non-proliferation that goes beyond the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that India finds discriminatory.
As envisaged, the dialogue will include three countries with nuclear weapons — India, Pakistan and Israel — that are not NPT signatories.
“They (Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Barack Obama) affirmed the need for a meaningful dialogue among all states possessing nuclear weapons to build trust and confidence and for reducing the salience of nuclear weapons in international affairs and security doctrines,” a joint statement from the countries said.
“But India being part of this dialogue, as envisaged in the joint statement, means the US is willing to engage India on issues with which it usually engages nuclear weapon states as defined by the NPT,” a source said.
This means that for the first time, a nuclear weapon country that adheres strictly to NPT norms will engage non-signatories for discussions that are not part of the treaty.
Sources said the objective in the statement was something India had been saying for long. Sources said that in the statement “the two leaders affirmed their countries’ common ideals, complementary strengths and a shared commitment to a world without nuclear weapons”.