India abstains from voting on nuclear weapons ban at UN

An Akash missile being test fired from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in the northeastern state of Odisha. (Courtesy: Wikipedia) Photograph:( Others )

Agencies New Delhi, India Oct 29, 2016, 06.02 AM (IST)

India abstained from voting as a UN General Assembly committee on Thursday adopted a resolution to launch negotiations next year on a new treaty outlawing nuclear weapons, Indian news agency PTI reported. 


Permanent representative of India to the Conference on Disarmament, DB Venkatesh Varma, was quoted as saying by PTI that India has been "constrained" to abstain on the resolution and it is "not convinced" that the proposed conference in 2017 "can address the longstanding expectation of the international community for a comprehensive instrument on nuclear disarmament".  


"India attaches the highest priority to nuclear disarmament and shares with the co-sponsors the widely felt frustration that the international community has not been able to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. We also share the deep concern about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons," Varma said in the explanation of vote.


The First Committee deals with disarmament and international security.


Meanwhile, Varma said India did not participate in the open-ended working group which met in Geneva in 2016, so it reserves its position on its report and the recommendations.


"India has supported the commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a Comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention, which in addition to prohibition and elimination also includes verification. International verification would be essential to the global elimination of nuclear weapons, just as it has been in the case of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Progress on nuclear disarmament in the CD should remain an international priority," he was quoted as saying. 


There is no question of New Delhi joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon state, India has asserted. 


The resolution emphasises the importance of addressing issues related to nuclear weapons in a comprehensive, inclusive, interactive and constructive manner, PTI reported.  It also decided to convene in 2017 a United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.


"This treaty won't eliminate nuclear weapons overnight. But it will establish a powerful, new international legal standard, stigmatizing nuclear weapons and compelling nations to take urgent action on disarmament,” Beatriz Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, was quoted as saying by Voice of America, the official external broadcasting institution of the United States. 


The resolution was adopted with 123 votes in favour, 38 against and 16 abstentions.


Nuclear powers the United States, Russia, Israel, France and the United Kingdom were among those that opposed the measure, British daily, The Guardian reported. 


(WION with inputs from PTI)