WHAT DID NPT PREPCOM 2009 BESTOW ON INDIA?
Obama’s message to the third Session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference was delivered by his Assistant Secretary of State for verification, compliance and implementation, and the United States representative to the 2009 NPT PrepCom, Rose Gottemoeller. She said in her opening remarks, "Universal adherence to the NPT tself - including by India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea – remains a fundamental objective of the US," and "We must strengthen the NPT to deal effectively with the threat of nuclear weapons and nuclear terrorism."
PrepComs serve as a platform for state parties to express their national positions, concerns and to prepare for the Review Conference in terms of assessing the implementation of each article of the NPT and facilitating discussion among states with a view to making recommendations to the Review Conference. NPT entered into force in 1970 and was extended indefinitely in 1995. It requires that review conferences (RevCon) be held every five years. The 2009 PrepCom meeting was part of the three sessions that had to be held prior to the Review Conference, for preparation, and this was the third and final PrepCom meeting for the 2010 RevCon.
The United States has reaffirmed efforts to bolster the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). India along with Pakistan and Israel are not signatories to the NPT. North Korea had been a member, but pulled out in 2003, and this has always been a matter of grave concern for the US and other signatory state parties of the treaty. Now, the Obama administration wants India along with other non signatories, to sign on to the NPT, amid preparations for a Review Conference of the treaty next year.
The US has not, however, mentioned what policies the Obama Administration is likely to follow to ensure that these countries sign the NPT. The way the US deals with India will be significant since India has been a strategic partner of the US and is likely to remain for the present Obama administration too. The Obama administration has vowed to strengthen the non proliferation regime and the NPT, and India is firm on her stand to not sign the NPT, and this signals doubts on the course of their future relationship. When India and the United States finalized the Civilian Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, this deal had to face strong opposition, with accusations of it being a threat to the NPT and the non proliferation regime, since India is not a signatory of the NPT even though the US is. At the PrepCom too, many countries made statements, without mentioning India, which were critical of the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal. The US has to rescue itself from the charges too; hence this issue has become much critical for the US and could mean a tough time for both the strategic partners.
India has always reiterated its stand to not sign the NPT on the grounds that it’s 'discriminatory' and tends to create a system of 'nuclear apartheid', dividing the world into the nuclear haves and have-nots by permitting nuclear weapon states to continue refining and developing their nuclear arsenals at their test sites and in their laboratories (through computer simulation). In spite of possessing nuclear weapons India is not recognized as a nuclear weapons state under the treaty, since the NPT's cut-off date for the admittance of a nuclear weapon power was January 1, 1967. There is no time-frame and no legally binding steps towards a nuclear weapons free world. As long as it remains discriminatory in nature, India will refuse to sign it. As a responsible nuclear weapons possessing state, India has always stated that it does not intend to use nuclear weapons to commit aggression or for mounting threats against any country.
India also opines that it has got the waiver from the Nuclear Supplier cartel and India’s nuclear weapon status has been accepted. Thus, now telling India to sign the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state cannot be digested. India has consistently pursued the objective of global disarmament based on the principles of universality, non-discrimination and effective compliance. Due to the NPT, India has long suffered the nuclear apartheid. Hence India will take any further stand on the NPT only after assessing the costs and benefits of signing or not signing the treaty. As a non signatory of the NPT too, India has always ingeminated its commitment to universal nuclear disarmament and promises to welcome real action towards disarmament.
The appointment of Robert Einhorn, a vocal critic of the Indo-US nuclear deal, as the US State Department's (Hillary Clinton's) special advisor for non-proliferation and arms control, has also revivified the dread that the Obama administration could be tough with New Delhi on nuclear issues.Only few weeks are left for the scheduled visit by the United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s visit, and nuclear issues are definitely going to be high on her agenda. A lot more on this issue is expected from her visit.