Resolution Adopted at Convention Against Nuclear Weapons -
June 9, 1998, Pearey Lal Bhawan, New Delhi

The nuclear tests conducted on May 11 and 13 by the BJP-led government, and the declaration that these tests are part of a weaponisation programme, have marked a sharp break from the earlier national consensus. With this, a nuclear arms race has been initiated in the sub-continent and Pakistan has also followed suit with tests and declared itself a nuclear weapon state. Sabre-rattling pronouncements made by leading government spokespersons, and efforts by Sangh Parivar groups to whip up chauvinist and jingoistic sentiment, have only heightened tensions in the region and undone years of patient diplomacy with our neighbours. It is ironical that this has come at a stage when India was in the process of improving relations with China and Pakistan. Contrary to the stated goal of increasing Indiaís security, the security environment around India today stands seriously degraded.

The Government has sought to project the recent tests and the moves towards nuclear weaponisation as merely one more step to those taken by earlier governments. In fact, they are a complete departure from the earlier policy frame. Further, the decisions have been taken without the promised strategic review by a National Security Council, which is yet to be set up. The earlier consensus was that India would keep its nuclear option open as long as the nuclear weapon powers persisted in maintaining their monopoly and did not proceed towards nuclear disarmament. The consensus also involved strong opposition to the doctrine of "nuclear deterrence". It meant that, while itself not acting by exercising this nuclear weapons option, India would continue to campaign for global nuclear disarmament. On this count, India has always had a moral advantage in the World community because of its principled position. The BJP-led Government, backed by sections of the military and scientific establishments and cheered on by sections of the media, broke this consensus. It is now legitimising nuclear weapons and has clearly indicated that it merely seeks to join the exclusive nuclear club.

By naming Pakistan and China as providing reasons for exercising the nuclear option and by holding that they threaten the country's security environment, this government has completely undermined the efforts that India had been pursuing to improve relations with them and diminished the global significance of Indiaís open nuclear option. The policy outlook conveyed by government and ruling party spokesmen have now emboldened the US and other G-8 countries to launch initiatives to ìresolve the sub-continental rivalryî thus reducing the Indian nuclear position to one that is only confined to the region.

Any future conflict between India and its nuclear-armed neighbours now carries with it the threat of nuclear exchange which can only lead to mutual annihilation. Even a limited nuclear exchange, either by accident or design, will devastate both countries; causing long-term damage to the land and the gene pool, and a complete civilisational collapse. Radioactive fallout will not respect national boundaries. Yet the current rhetoric among "hawks", engaged in one-upmanship in both India and Pakistan, attempt to paint deceptive scenarios of security through posession and deployment of nuclear weapons. Contrary to the myth propagated, there is no defence against such weapons.

The people of India, and of Pakistan, most whom are keen to ensure peace between the two countries, must act to stop this madness. The Governments of both the countries must immediately halt the programme of weaponisation and must not induct or deploy nuclear weapons. The costs of nuclear deployment and the threat of nuclear exchange are just too high. These developments have diverted attention away from the grave problems facing the country -- hunger, poverty, ill-health, illiteracy and lack of basic infrastructure. It is deeply ironical that instead of making serious efforts to rise from the bottom fifty countries of the world in Human Development, India and Pakistan should want to join the club of the Nuclear Five.

Instead, India must vigorously campaign to dismantle the global discriminatory nuclear regime and initiate moves towards global nuclear disarmament. The nuclear weapons powers, despite all their pious pronouncements about dismantling of their arsenals, have made marginal efforts to do so. Their imposition of sanctions against India and Pakistan is hypocritical. If they are serious about nuclear non-proliferation, they must pursue a credible programme for destruction of nuclear weapons globally, starting with their own. In order to resume Indiaís due role, India must return to the global nuclear disarmament agenda and stop any further measures towards induction and deployment of nuclear weapons in the sub-continent. Pakistan too must reciprocate with matching measures.

India and Pakistan should jointly take the initiative in convening a global convention for the elimination of nuclear weapons. There already exist global treaties, signed by all countries, prohibiting the use of chemical and biological weapons and for destroying existing stockpiles of such weapons of mass destruction. There is no reason why a similar global treaty cannot be signed by all countries to prohibit the use of nuclear weapons and to eliminate the existing stockpile of nuclear weapons within a time-bound framework. We as concerned citizens should direct our efforts not only at pressurising the Governments of India and Pakistan but also at mobilising world public opinion for fulfilling such a goal.

[See Related Document:
Report of the convention Against Nuclear Weapons ]