At IAEA PM, Chidambaram castigate original sinners<197>call for re-focusing Agency's role

At the forty-second regular session of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) held at its headquarters in Vienna in September, the head of the Indian delegation R. Chidambaram, Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), asked the nuclear `haves' not to create a situation where the leadership and the public in developing countries wishing to develop and harness nuclear power `feel frightened by Safety and threatened by Safeguards'.

Chidambaram, while reading out a message to the conference from the Indian Prime Minister, said:

`Right from the time of our independence in 1947, our leaders had realized that a nuclear weapon-free world would enhance the security of all nations. That is why nuclear disarmament was and continues to be a major plank of our foreign policy. We had, therefore, called for a ban on nuclear testing in 1954, the aim of which was to prevent further development and stockpiling of nuclear weapons. This was not accepted, with the result that two new nuclear weapons states [France and China<$E ~-~ ><MI>Eds<D>] emerged between then˙and the elaboration of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968.

`We were among those countries that had participated in good faith in developing the concept of a non- proliferation agreement but found that the NPT text that emerged was discriminatory. It divided nations between those that were allowed to retain and develop nuclear weapons and those that were forbidden the same right. It was also unbalanced, and imposed virtually no obligations on nuclear weapon states, and even these limited obligations were not honoured by them.

`The decades of the eighties and nineties had, meanwhile, witnessed the gradual deterioration of our security environment as a result of nuclear and missile proliferation. In our neighbourhood, nuclear weapons had increased and more sophisticated delivery systems inducted. In addition, India has also been the victim of externally aided and abetted terrorism and clandestine war. Under these circumstances, in the interest of national security, the Government of India had to take the decision of carrying out nuclear weapon tests.

`India's nuclear tests were not intended for offence but for self- defence. We have stated that we will not be the first to use nuclear weapons. We are willing to strengthen this unilateral commitment by entering into bilateral agreements on no first use or multilateral negotiations on global- no-first-use. Having stated that we shall not be the first to use nuclear weapons, there remains no basis for their use against countries that do not have nuclear weapons.

`We are a responsible Nuclear Weapon State. We are also the largest democracy in the world. Our non- proliferation credentials are impeccable; no equipment, material or technology exported by us to any country has been misused. We have never violated any Treaty obligation.

`I reiterate that we shall continue to work towards the elimination of all nuclear weapons from the world in a time-bound framework and we earnestly hope that a Nuclear Weapon-free and peaceful world will one day be a reality. The recent Non-Aligned Summit at Durban has called for an international conference on the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons within the framework of a time-bound, universal and non-discriminatory Nuclear Weapons Convention.

`We also hope that in such a world the developing countries will progress on the path to prosperity and become developed. For this to happen, nuclear energy will have to play its due role and the International Atomic Energy Agency should concentrate on this important scientific-technological task.

Continuing, Chidambaram said:

`Over the last five decades India has worked for a nuclear weapon-free world because nuclear weapons for none means security for all. The Nuclear Weapon States as defined by the NPT selectively ignored the provision in the NPT which obliged them to work towards nuclear disarmament. They were even unwilling to include in CTBT a provision for a time-bound framework for nuclear disarmament which India had urged. The prospects for a nuclear weapon-free world dimmed alarmingly with the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995. So this year, coinciding with the Golden Jubilee celebrations of our Indepen-dence, we were compelled to re-define the parameters of our security requirements. As a developing country, India hopes that the developing world notices that the countries which have chosen to vehemently criticize the recent tests are either the established Nuclear Weapon States, who like to preserve their exclusive position, or are those who have already addressed their nuclear-related national security concerns of the kind India has. This is not surprising because they are either not placed in a hostile neighbourhood or they enjoy the security of a nuclear umbrella of a Nuclear Weapon State. The political or geographical proximity of some of the latter to a friendly supportive Nuclear Weapon State is so easily recognizable that they can perhaps be looked upon as surrogate Nuclear Weapon States. Interestingly, none of them is a developing country and worryingly the attitude of many of them smacks of a new kind of colonialism through technology control.

`We find it strange and contradictory that we, who have never violated any treaty obligation, are being accused by some countries of violating the norms of CTBT, a Treaty which is yet to enter into force, and to which we are not a party. It is worthwhile recalling the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT), a Treaty which prohibited atmospheric tests and which entered into force in 1963. Having been among the first to sign this treaty, we carried out our first test underground in 1974. Two states did not sign the PTBT and continued to carry out atmospheric test long after the entry into force of the Treaty. One State, China, carried out its first test in the atmosphere one year after the entry into force of PTBT. In comparison, it needs to be noted that CTBT is yet to enter into force<$E ~.~.~.~.>

`From the point of view of deve-loping countries, the focus of this Conference should be on the statutory technical issues like nuclear power and not on extraneous political issues related to nuclear weapons, a subject dealt with by the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

`The IAEA GC 41 Resolution of˙Strengthening of Technical Co- operation has made special mention of improving technical capabilities of developing countries in nuclear power. With this in view, IAEA has decided to hold an International Seminar on <169>Nuclear Power in Developing Countries: Its Potential Role and Strategies for its Development<170> in India in October 1998.

`The Agency needs to find methodo- logies so that scientific cooperation in this field is not inhibited by the commercial interests of the vendors. The Agency must also be a prime mover in ensuring that safety-related equipment and the information on Research and Development in safety-related issues are readily disseminated without being hindered by arbitrary and politically motivated export control regimes. Safeguards, while necessary, must obviously be confined to the respective State's obligations. The hesitation in developing countries to initiate a nuclear power programme often is due to unfamiliarity with steps needed for it<%-2>. A situation must not be created where th<%0>e leadership and the public in developing countries, planning to introduce nuclear power for the first time, feel frightened by Safety and feel threatened by Safeguards. The Agency must play a key role in removing such inhibitions while, of course, ensuring safety of nuclear power and implementing effectively and economically its safeguards responsibilities.'

Chidambaram concluded with a call to, `restoring the original scientific-technical character of the IAEA. The IAEA, a specialized UN agency, used to be such an organization and we must not allow it to degenerate into a shadow political forum repeating the debate in the United Nations General Assembly. It is time that the IAEA should aim at an `International nuclear heritage'. Unbiased dissemination and deployment of the vast scientific and technical knowledge that has been accumulated through thousands of meetings and conferences should be used to meet the objectives laid out in the Statute, namely, to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health, and prosperity throughout the world. There is much that the IAEA can do to drive out pessimism, to encourage a culture of nuclear safety and to ensure that safeguards implementation does not inhibit technology development in the area of nuclear power'.