Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday proposed a global convention on ‘no-first use’ of nuclear weapons as it could lead to elimination of atomic arsenal.
“If all states possessing nuclear weapons recognise that if this is so (nuclear weapons are only for deterrence) and are prepared to declare it, we can quickly move to the establishment of global no-first use norm.
“In many ways this can open the ways to gradual reduction and finally elimination through a nuclear weapon convention. Such a convention would require necessary verification. It would also require political measures to ensure the stability is maintained at the level as nuclear arsenal approaches zero,” he said.
Singh was speaking at an IDSA seminar on ‘A Nuclear Free World: From Conception to Reality.’
“More and more voices are speaking out today that the sole purpose of nuclear weapons while they exist should be to deter a nuclear attack,” he said.
Singh said that it was important to reduce the importance of nuclear weapons. However, this cannot be done by a single nation, but requires a multilateral agreement.
“What is important today is an agreed multilateral framework that can involve all states possessing nuclear weapons. What is needed is focus on practical measures that reduce nuclear dangers,” he said.
Singh said that although India supports a nuclear-free world it declared itself a nuclear state owing to the ‘harsh’ security environment. “As a responsible nuclear weapons state India supports the idea of a nuclear weapon-free world.
“We are the only country that demonstrated its capacity in 1974 but maintained a quarter century of restraint, before a harsh security environment obliged us to (conduct) test in 1998 and declare ourselves nuclear state,” he said.
While spelling out the dangers of the nuclear power and the need to control the use of atomic weapons, Singh also highlighted the benefits of nuclear energy.
“There is no theme more important and politically more challenging in the domain of international security. Scientists and political leaders began grappling with the idea almost as they discovered the immense destructive power of nuclear weapons.
“Along side there was realisation that nuclear energy has great potential for common good. This dichotomy rendered the challenge only greater. The dilemma was to ensure human kind could continue to benefit by peaceful use of nuclear technology while controlling and eliminating the destructive uses it could be put to.”
The Prime Minister noted that by 2032, India intends to produce 62,000 MW of electricity through nuclear power.