India should sign NPT to bolster its UNSC bid: Kerry
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India should sign NPT to bolster its UNSC bid: Kerry

The US presidential front-runner says India must first address the NPT issue, writes S Rajagopalan.

india Updated: Feb 10, 2004 00:50 IST

Senator John Kerry, the Democratic front-runner in the US presidential race, may not be great news for India, at least in one important area: New Delhi’s bid for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.

Kerry has definitive views on the subject. India, he concedes, has good credentials to enter the exclusive club, but goes on to suggest that it must first address the issue of signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

His rationale is that all five permanent members of the council—the US, UK, Russia, France and China—are nuclear powers and parties to the NPT.

Kerry, currently tightening his grip on the Democratic nomination for the November race by winning 10 of the 12 state primaries and caucuses, has set forth his views vis-a-vis India in response to a questionnaire from the Washington-based Indian American Centre for Political Awareness (IACPA).

“While I think that in many ways India would be a good candidate for Security Council membership, there is one notable problem: India is not a party to the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. All the nuclear powers on the Council not only directly shape the NPT but are parties that abide by it. This may be the most serious issue with respect to India’s candidacy for Council membership and one that must be addressed by India,” he says.

He has an important rider on another issue as well: a free trade agreement between India and the US. While professing that he is open to the basic concept, he stresses that agreements of the type should include internationally-recognised core labour standards and environmental protections.

Kerry is otherwise positive on Indo-US ties, making it clear that he wants to build on the emerging cooperative relationship between the two countries. On bilateral ties in relation to the war on terror, he notes: “I strongly believe that we must continue to work together to bolster our joint capacities.”

The fourth-term Senator from Massachusetts and a decorated Vietnam War veteran, Kerry says that he would like to see Indo-US relationship grow in every aspect, including defence. He strongly favours continuance of the joint military exercises.

On the question of US defence sales, however, he feels decisions must be made “in the specific context of the needs of the recipient nation, the weapons and systems under consideration, and the interests of the United States at the time of the purchase”.

Kerry is a co-sponsor of the federal legislation against hate crimes, which has been an issue of acute concern to Indian Americans, notably the Sikhs, in recent times. Commenting on the subject, Kerry said that, as President, he will ensure proper enforcement of the legislation.

First Published: Feb 10, 2004 00:50 IST