Addressing the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said on Thursday that India as a responsible nuclear power has a credible minimum deterrence policy and a posture of no-first use.

"We refuse to participate in an arms race, including a nuclear arms race. We are prepared to negotiate a global No-First-Use treaty and our proposal for a Convention banning the use of nuclear weapons remains on the table," he said.

Referring to Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence, Khurshid said, "More than six decades later, it remains our collective challenge to craft a nuclear weapon free and non-violent world order.”

“India remains convinced that its security would be strengthened in a nuclear weapon free and non-violent world order.  This conviction is based both on principle as well as pragmatism. We believe that the goal of nuclear disarmament can be achieved through a step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed multilateral framework that is global and non-discriminatory," he said.

He said there is "need for a meaningful dialogue among all states possessing nuclear weapons to build trust and confidence and for reducing the salience of nuclear weapons in international affairs and security doctrines. Progressive steps are needed for the de-legitimization of nuclear weapons paving the way for their complete elimination".

Referring to then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's proposal to the UN of an action plan for a nuclear weapon free world, Khurshid said, "As we see no contradiction between nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, we are also committed to working with the international community to advance our common objectives of non-proliferation, including through strong export controls and membership of the multilateral export regimes."

He said that India supports the Non-Aligned Movement call for early commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) on nuclear disarmament.

"Without prejudice to the priority we attach to nuclear disarmament, we also support the negotiation in the CD of a non-discriminatory and internationally verifiable treaty banning the future production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices that meets India's national security interests. It should be our collective endeavor to return the CD, which remains the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, to substantive work as early as possible," he said.

He also said that the use of chemical weapons in Syria points "to an urgent need for the international community to strengthen restraints on use of weapons of mass destruction and in particular preventing their access to non state actors and terrorists".

(Agencies)

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