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  India to play major role in NPT Review meet in 2010
 
From Afsana Bhat

SRINAGAR, DEC 4 -- "India is going to play a major role at the April 2010 summit in Washington," said Dr Vijay K Sazawal, director, United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC). He was speaking at a lecture on 'Progress in Global Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament', organized by the Department of Physics, University of Kashmir, here.

The Global Nuclear Security Summit and Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference is scheduled to be held in 2010 at Washington and New York, respectively.

"Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during a recent visit to the US, said India would support the conference. This is encouraging," Dr Sazawal said.

He added that the summit would set the stage for the NPT Review Conference scheduled for May 2010. He, however, described the conference as a 'test of United States President Barack Obama's leadership'.

Providing a brief overview of issues that would be discussed during the conference, Dr Sazawal said strengthening of the NPT, signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), irreversibility (no going back from disarmament treaties once a nation commits to them) and fuel banks would be the focal points.

He said campaigning towards 'nuke zero' was not an easy task. "Nuclear weapons are a product of World War II. Only South Africa has shut down its proven nuclear weapons programme in a transparent and verifiable manner." He added that a total of 187 countries had signed the treaty. "North Korea withdrew from the Treaty in 2002."

He spoke at length about the three pillars of the NPT -- disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear technology. He deliberated upon key bilateral treaties towards nuclear disarmament, including the Partial Test Ban Treaty (1963), the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (1972), the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (1972), the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (1979), the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (1987) and the Moscow Treaty (2002).

"Nuclear disarmament is an act of reducing and eventually eliminating nuclear weapons. It will lessen and hopefully prevent the possibility of a nuclear conflict, especially accidental discharge of nuclear weapons," the director said, adding, "India was the first to explore nuclear device without ENR technologies. The Indian nuclear programme is the only one in the world that was initiated for peaceful purposes. It is truly homemade."

Dr Sazawal also spoke about the prevention of nuclear proliferation through export controls. "Eleven countries possess potential 'weapons-capable' nuclear material, but 90 per cent of the stock is either in Russia or the United States."

Also speaking on the issue, Professor Riyaz Punjabi, University of Kashmir Vice-Chancellor, said, "Proliferation of nuclear weapons occupies centre stage in all discussions. There is optimism that states are slowly moving towards the NPT." He added that the approach towards international issues should not be governed by sentiments.
 
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