“State patronage of non-state actors whose nihilism knows no international boundary or humanitarian tabooa is putting the world at risk, Amandeep Singh Gill, India’s Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament (CD), said on Tuesday at the organisation’s plenary session in Geneva.
“The threat of non-state actors accessing weapons of mass destruction is real and present,” he said.
At the same time, without directly naming them individually or collectively, Gill also warned of the perils posed by the established nuclear powers and accused them of creating a “false narrative of double standards.”
“The real danger to international security comes from extremely narrow views of security, lowering of the threshold for use of nuclear weapons,” he said.
While India and China have declared a no first use policy – that they will not be the first use nuclear weapons – the United States, Britain, France, Russia and Pakistan have notably rejected such a policy keeping open their first-strike options.
In some of theses countries doctrines on nuclear weapons use are also undergoing changes.
“Nuclear proliferation continues and new scenarios are being conjured for the use of nuclear weapons in a chilling throwback to the worst cliches of the Cold War,” Gill said. “Fissile material production for nuclear weapons is being expanded at a rate not seen since the Cold War.”
Gill made an apparent reference to the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT), which has been hobbled for over 22 years by wranglings by major nuclear powers on what grade of materials would be covered under it and how verifications should be carried out.
“The goal posts on the only instrument capable of bringing such production to an end in a non-discriminatory and internationally and effectively verifiable manner are sought to be constantly moved and linkages attempted with issues that have nothing to do with this forum,” he declared.
In a challenged to the global powers, he said, “Those who wish to take on the mantle of leading must demonstrate that they truly and selflessly seek the common good, follow what they preach and respect for others what they ask for themselves.”
Sketching out a global scenario of dangers from weapons of mass destruction, Gill said that deadly weapons technologies were being trafficked, norms against use of chemical weapons were being flouted, biological arms were poised for a comeback with new technologies, and information and communication technologies were being weaponised, while drones and robotic weapons were adding to risks.
Gill said CD with its comprehensive agenda can help meet these challenges by bringing “us together in sovereign equality and in full responsibility to craft legally-binding instruments for the promotion of international peace and security.”
But he said that to be effective, the CD would have to reflect the multipolar world and all its regions as otherwise its “effectiveness and legitimacy would suffer.”
“The world is no longer the playground of a few,” he said. “The language of privilege and entitlement has no place in today’s world and indeed human progress will wash around the remaining pockets of privilege and entitlement, leaving them stranded just as it has done so in the past.”
(Arul Louis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)