Union minister M J Akbar today asserted that India is a responsible nuclear state and believes in ‘no first use’ of such weapons, even as he questioned why no action is being taken at the global level against proliferation.
Speaking at a session on nuclear threats to international security here at the World Economic Forum (WEF), he said many countries see nuclear weapons as the ultimate deterrence and see “missiles as a message”.
The minister of state for external affairs said just a few days ago India joined the Australia Group and is party to other such pacts.
“The world recognizes that India is a very responsible nuclear state. Also, we are like that not because someone asked us to do so, but because we want to be like that,” Akbar said.
He said India’s approach is clear, it wants a nuclear regime that is non-discriminatory.
“We have got support from so many countries on our approach and we hope that the world will work together on reducing if not eliminating the nuclear threats,” he said while adding that he is hopeful as everyone takes the threat of destruction seriously.
Asked about both India and Pakistan having nuclear weapons, he said, “We can only speak from our position. I can’t speak on behalf of another country and we have these weapons as a form of a deterrence and we believe in no first use.”
“We would want to get an agreement at the global level on ‘no first use’. If ideals can’t be achieved at least we can work towards good. It’s easy to hear the noise but a little less easy to hear the silence,” he said.
Akbar said India is very proud that its objective is peace. We want peace but peace does not necessarily come from pacifism, he added.
Akbar said people have gotten away with proliferation and strong actions are needed against that.
Speaking in the same session, Beatrice Fihn of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons said the only solution is to abolish and eliminate nuclear weapons and it makes no sense for responsible countries to have such weapons that always present a major risk.
She said these weapons create, rather than resolve, crises.
Akbar, however, said demands of security cannot be simply wished away and wondered why is it that no country is taking a unilateral decision against nuclear weapons.
“We are in Europe which has nuclear states and why don’t they lead the way? Can they seek public opinion on disarmament? At our level, we work very strongly through a multilateral framework which is the only way forward.
“We urge other nations to take steps and we hope this diligence with which we work towards a safer world will yield a result,” he said.
Akbar asserted that we need to question why no steps are being taken against proliferation.
The panel discussed the increasing number of nuclear states and threat of “first use” of nuclear weapons as dual global risks on the rise.
The panel members discussed what political, diplomatic and military options can mitigate or manage such existential threats.
They also sought to understand why nuclear threats are back on the table.
Other areas of discussion included re-evaluating the risk/reward balance in nuclear deterrence and how to keep the human factor in focus.