India, backed by the United States, opposed a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution calling on New Delhi to voluntarily abandon its nuclear weapons. The resolution that also targeted Israel and Pakistan, however, passed overwhelmingly.
The US joined India to vote against a key part of the resolution on achieving a nuclear weapon-free world that called on India, Israel and Pakistan to immediately and unconditionally accede to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon states and put all their nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.
In plain language, this clause would have the three countries it targeted to just give up their nuclear weapons and ability to manufacture them.
Israel and Pakistan also voted against the provision, while France, Britain and Bhutan abstained from voting. It passed with 165 votes in the 193-member UNGA, with 21 countries absent.
India and the US were joined by Britain, Russia, Israel and North Korea in voting against the overall resolution on working towards a nuclear-weapon-free world. But it passed with 169 votes, with China, Pakistan, Bhutan, Micronesia and Palau abstaining.
This resolution and similar ones are not binding under the UN Charter and are symbolic in nature.
India also voted against clauses in two other resolutions that, without naming any country, asked all countries to accede to the NPT while giving up their nuclear arsenals.
New Delhi has been firm in rejecting the NPT, which it considers is discriminatory in trying to preserve the nuclear weapons monopoly of five nations -- the US, Russia, China, France and Britain. This stand was reiterated by Ambassador D. B. Venkatesh Varma in October at a meeting of the UNGA's committee that deals with disarmament and crafted these resolutions. "There is no question of India joining the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state," said Varma, who is India's Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament. "In our view, nuclear disarmament can be achieved through a step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed global and non-discriminatory multilateral framework."
India also voted against a resolution pushing for conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels and abstained on another urging nations not to carry out nuclear tests. These resolutions passed by overwhelming majorities.
In another resolution, the UNGA asked all nations to take strong actions to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.
Yet other resolutions called for lessening international tension by reducing the operational readiness of the several thousand nuclear weapons that remained on high alert despite the end of the cold war, and requested the five nuclear-weapon States to review of nuclear doctrines and take steps to reduce the risks of the use of nuclear weapons.
(Arul Louis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)