NEW DELHI – India on Monday accused the world’s leading nuclear powers of failing to prevent the spread of atomic weapons and demanded they tighten global nonproliferation rules.
External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh said the leading powers must also agree to “irreversible and verifiable cuts in their nuclear arsenal” if they want to be serious about nonproliferation.
Singh’s comments came ahead of an international conference on the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, scheduled to be held in New York in May.
India, which became a nuclear power in 1998, has not signed the treaty because it says the pact seeks to restrict nuclear weapons to a few countries rather than eliminate them completely. Still, Singh said, India’s conduct has always been consistent with the key provisions.
Singh also said some of the nuclear weapon states “have been active collaborators in, or silent spectators to, continuing clandestine and illegal proliferation, including export, of nuclear weapon components and technologies.”
He didn’t name the countries, but New Delhi has long accused the United States of overlooking Indian archrival Pakistan’s involvement in the nuclear programs of countries like Iran and North Korea.
Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear program, is being investigated for allegedly exporting nuclear technology.
Pakistan, which became a nuclear power the same year as India, denies it had any knowledge of Khan’s actions, and remains a key ally of the United States in its fight against terrorism.
Singh accused nuclear weapon states of a discriminatory approach to enforcing the treaty.
“Even today we see the same inconsistencies, with selective focus on the recipients of such clandestine proliferation but not enough attention on the sources of supply,” he said.
He criticized the United States and Russia for refusing to cut their nuclear stockpiles even after the end of the Cold War.
“Such an attitude feeds and strengthens the belief that nuclear weapons are a currency of power,” he said.
Singh said New Delhi would be willing to join global nonproliferation efforts if all nuclear weapon states cut their arsenals, lower the alert status of their strategic weapons, and boost cooperation in nuclear technologies for economic development, especially in the energy sector.
The treaty recognizes only five nuclear weapon states — the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China. The treaty, which has been signed by 185 countries, doesn’t recognize India, Pakistan, Israel or North Korea as nuclear weapon states.