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Statement by External Affairs Minister Shri Natwar Singh in Rajya Sabha (Council of States) on the Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Bill, 2005

New Delhi
May 13, 2005

Hon’ble Chairman and Colleagues,

I rise to request this august House to consider and pass the Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Bill, 2005.

2. As the house is aware, a basic tenet of India’s foreign policy since independence has been the pursuit of global nuclear disarmament. India has been a consistent proponent of general and complete disarmament and has advocated that the highest priority be given to nuclear disarmament as a first step toward this objective. We were among those who advocated an international non-proliferation agreement under which nuclear weapon states would agree to stop the production of fissile material for weapons purposes and move towards reducing and eliminating their nuclear weapons while other countries would refrain from developing or acquiring such weapons. Unfortunately, the nuclear weapon power were not willing to accept even this limited commitment and the Non-Proliferation Treaty as it eventually emerged was an unbalanced instrument which India did not join. In 1978, India proposed negotiations for an international Convention prohibit the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. In 1988 at the Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Disarmament, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi put forward a comprehensive action plan based on the principles of universality, non-discrimination and a balance of obligations for the phased elimination of all nuclear weapons within a time-bound framework.

3. India’s status as a Nuclear Weapon State does not diminish its commitment to the objective of a nuclear weapon free world. We aspire for a non-violent world order, through global, verifiable, and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament. This is and continues to be an important plank of our nuclear policy. Our adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention is evidence of our commitment to global disarmament regimes which are universal and non-discriminatory in character.

4. India is fully committed to safeguard its security as a Nuclear Weapon State. Our nuclear policy is characterized by responsibility, transparency, predictability and a defensive orientation. We are committed to building and maintaining a credible minimum deterrent. We have declared a posture of no first use. We continue to observe a voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing.

5. At the same time, India’s policy has always been not to assist, encourage or induce any other country to manufacture nuclear weapons. As a responsible nation, India has never passed on its proven technological capabilities to any one. India will not be a source of proliferation of indigenously developed sensitive technologies. We will remain faithful to this approach, as we have been for the last several decades.

6. India will continue to ensure that WMD-usable materials, equipment and technologies do not fall into the wrong hands whether of States or non-State actors, and in particular of terrorists. Our system of export controls is under continuous review; we continue to update these controls where necessary.

7. Over the years, India has enacted a corpus of legislation dealing with activities of direct or indirect relevance to weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and related materials, equipment and technologies. It has also institutionalized administrative mechanisms to prevent unlawful access to such weapons and their delivery systems. Conscious of its responsibilities, India has been exercising controls over the export of WMD-usable materials, equipment and technologies.

8. It is now considered desirable to introduce an over-arching and integrated legislation to prohibit unlawful activities in relation to weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery and to build upon the regulatory framework related to controls over the export of WMD-usable materials, equipment and technologies, especially in view of India’s status as a Nuclear Weapon State.

9. The rationale for the proposed Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Bill, 2005 is based on the same policy tenets that have guided the country over the past several decades, which are reflective of the nation’s commitment to safeguard its national security, to deepen its autonomous scientific and technical capability for meeting our security imperatives and developmental goals and to the objective of global peace and security. These tenets are based on continuity and are underpinned by a national consensus cutting across party lines.