India has asserted that the international community is nowhere close to the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons by the year 2010 under an action plan presented by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to the United Nations over two decades ago.
"22 years ago, on 9th June 1988, India's then Prime Minister, the young Shri Rajiv Gandhi, presented an Action Plan for a Nuclear Weapons-Free and Non-violent World Order, which set out a roadmap to attain the goal of nuclear disarmament by this year, 2010," Indian delegate and Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said at the UN General Assembly here on Friday.
"Tragically, we are no nearer attaining that goal today than we were 22 years ago," he added. "The promise of a nuclear weapon-free world, which seemed a real possibility near the end of the Cold War, has been belied."
Aiyar, however, noted that the "one ray of hope" was that the countries that were once advocates of the deterrence policy that contributed to the nuclear arms race, were now speaking out against the possession of nuclear weapons.
Noting that several world leaders acknowledged the necessity of moving towards global zero, Aiyar said that India was "greatly encouraged" by US President Barack Obama's statement in Prague on April 5 last year when he expressed his commitment to 'seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons'.
At the same time, India affirmed its position of not joining the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
"Nuclear weapons are an integral part of India's national security and will remain so, pending non-discriminatory and global nuclear disarmament," Aiyar, also an MP, said.
He also called on the countries with the largest nuclear arsenals to step in and lead efforts for nuclear disarmament.
Welcoming the new Russia-US agreement to cut their nuclear arsenals as a step in the right direction, Aiyar, however, said "that this is not a substitute for a step by step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed multilateral framework for achieving global and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament."
He said India was committed to its policy of 'No First Use' against nuclear weapon states and non-use against non-nuclear weapon states.
"We support negotiations with a view to reaching agreement on effective arrangements to assure non-nuclear weapon States against the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons," Aiyar said. "We are committed to a unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing."