By Arul Louis
United Nations–India is not participating in the conference on negotiations for a total ban on nuclear weapons that began here Monday.
Diplomatic sources familiar with India’s position said the decision to not participate in the meeting was taken independently by New Delhi taking into account the nation’s own interests and that the Indian mission was closely monitoring the developments at the conference.
India was expected later this week to issue a comprehensive statement laying out its stance on the meeting that is officially called the Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination.
India abstained from voting on the General Assembly resolution last year that set up the conference.
Meanwhile, US’ Permanent Representative Nikki Haley separately announced a boycott of the conference by western nuclear powers and 37 other countries.
Speaking to reporters outside the General Assembly chamber where the meeting was taking place, she cited the danger posed by the international outlaws who will not abide by any treaties or laws as a rationale for her country, France, Britain and the others to stay away from the negotiations on a legally binding treaty to ban all nuclear weapons.
“In this day and age we can’t say honestly that we can protect our people by allowing the bad actors to have them,” she said.
“We have to be realistic,” she said. “Is there anyone that believes that North Korea would agree to a ban on nuclear weapons?”
In defiance of the UN, North Korea is developing nuclear weapons and missiles to launch them.
The US boycott under President Donald Trump follows the policy set by the Democratic Party administration of President Barack Obama, which opposed calling the conference.
While China and Pakistan abstained, Russia joined the western nuclear powers in voting against the resolution convening it.
Haley instead pitched the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as the route to disarmament.
France’s Deputy Permanent Representative Alexis Lamek said the NPT remains the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament efforts. A new treaty to ban all nuclear weapons will divide the parties to the NPT, he said.
British Permanent Representative Matthew Rycroft also backed that approach. He said that his country was for a step by step approach within existing multilateral system. (IANS)