Vienna — India Monday defended its refusal to sign the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, saying the pact unjustly defends the right of atomic nations to possess the bomb while discriminating against others trying to do so.
Raja Ramanna, chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission, told the 29th conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency that India is tired of being lectured on the subject.
“We do not accept so-called nonproliferation measures that actually legitimize the possession of nuclear weapons by some states,” he said.
“We also cannot subscribe to the idea that some countries or people are either more responsible or morally superior to others,” he said. “If the NPT is to be effective, it must apply equally to all countries of the world.”
More than 100 nations have signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, in which countries that do not have nuclear weapons agree not to acquire them in exchange for technological help in developing peaceful uses for nuclear power.
The five countries acknowledged to have nuclear weapons are the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, France and China, although several others are believed close to having the bomb. India exploded a “peaceful” nuclear device in 1974.
Ramanna spoke as the conference wound up its first day. Earlier, the head of the IAEA reported that world nuclear capacity jumped by 17 percent last year, the largest increase since the 1970s.
Director General Hans Blix told the agency’s 29th general conference that 34 new nuclear power units became operational in 13 countries 1984, the largest annual increase since the beginning of the large-scale introduction of nuclear power in the early 1970s.
“The environmental advantages of nuclear power are significant, and are bound to become increasingly recognized,” he said.
Blix asked member states to be “generous” in financing improvements in the agency’s critical safeguards system to help keep pace with the increase.
The Atomic Energy Agency, which is linked to the United Nations, was created in 1957 to promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It has 112 member nations, including the United States.
The agency’s safeguards program, by which it seeks to determine through inspections and other means that a country’s nuclear activities are peaceful, has been criticized by developing countries as too elaborate and costly.
Several member states have also complained the safeguards budget is spent mainly in industrialized countries at the same time developing countries are under economic strain.
Blix pleaded with the more than 90 states attending the conference to consider the importance of safeguards.
“Compared to what is at stake in the safeguards operations, I submit the sums involved by way of contribution from member governments are relatively shall and should be shared in a generous spirit,’ he said.
Article extracted from this publication >> September 27, 1985