Joint Press Conference by Co-chairs, Gareth Evans and Yoriko Kawaguchi, International Commission for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament 


4 October 2009, New Delhi, India

Introduction by Ambassador Bajpai

Good Afternoon ladies and gentlemen. We have the privilege of welcoming two very distinguished international statesmen as Co-chairs of the Conference and the equally distinguished Commissioners, some of whom are here.

I am here as the Chairman of the Delhi Policy Group, an independent think tank that was established in 1994 to try and stimulate public discourse on problems of national concern and importance to India, but, of course, embracing also many international issues of which none can be more important than the future of nuclear power in all its destructive as well as constructive potential.

As many of you will know, and may be tired of being told too often - but I believe it is relevant that the concept of ‘Nuclear Zero’ as it is now called - the elimination of nuclear weapons as part of General Disarmament was one of the earliest causes taken up by Independent India. And some of you may remember that during Mr Jawaharlal Nehru’s time, we sent former Governor-General of India Mr Rajagopalachari and the future President of India Dr. Radhakrishnan around the world to try and stimulate interest in this subject. It was then taken as idealistic unwisdom.

However, the idea has persisted and it has been taken up by some of the greatest minds of our time, both technical and political. It received a great emphasis about three or four years ago when four very distinguished American leaders Dr Kissinger, Mr George Shultz, Mr William Perry and Senator Nunn issued a statement supporting this very idea and since then it has been receiving increasing attention.

There is another organization called ‘Global Zero’ which supports this, but we have had the great privilege in the Delhi Policy Group of promoting this idea and having it studied for some time. We have just brought out a book on the subject in time for this Conference and it is a rare privilege for us to have been chosen by the Commission to be their agent, I would say, rather than their partner. We don’t pretend to be that important, but we are very happy indeed to have been useful in organizing the Conference here.

I have only to introduce the subject and I know you are here to listen to our Commissioners and particularly the two Co-chairs. They don’t need any introduction. But I hand it over to them. They will make their opening statements and then the questions can be asked.

Thank you Ambassador Bajpai for the work that you have done to hold this Regional Meeting and I also like to thank Gen. Raghavan for the work that he did. We were able to have very distinguished participants from the region and we have just finished a very productive, interesting and thought-provoking two days’ session. I am a Co-chair with Mr Gareth Evans and you see right in front three of the Commissioners of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament. They are from the United Kingdom, Germany and South Africa.

But we are a Track II Group - that is, we do not represent each Government of the country that we belong to. We are here as individuals. The whole work of the Commission started last June or July when the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr Rudd talked to the Prime Minister of Japan about co-sponsoring this Commission. We have 15 Commissioners from all over the world - very well-balanced representatives from developing countries, from nuclear weapon or nuclear armed countries and from countries without nuclear weapons. We also have people from the military background and also distinguished people from politics from various countries, including the former President of Mexico. We also have people who are very well-versed in this field like Mr Gareth Evans and also Mr Bill Perry from America who is one of the four persons who wrote the paper with Mr Kissinger, Senator Nunn and Mr George Shultz.

We are looking at the three pillars of NPT, that is, nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and also peaceful uses of nuclear energy. As Ambassador Bajpai said just now, there is an increasing concern in the international community that the accidental use of nuclear weapons or their use by mistake or by design would be disastrous for the world. Also there is an increasing concern that terrorists or non-State actors might get hold of nuclear material and use it in the form of dirty bombs or in some other form.

At the same time, we also have developing countries growing with resulting increased electricity needs, and there is also climate change concerns which require us to use cleaner sources of energy. So, that means, increased power generation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy which, in turn, will not be good unless we have good non-proliferation mechanisms in place.

We feel that there is a strong connection between the three NPT pillars and we felt that it is important that we discuss them broadly. We have had four Regional Meetings and this is the fourth and the last. The other meetings were in South America, North East Asia and the Middle East. We have also had three meetings of the Commission and we will have the fourth and the last one this year in Hiroshima very soon. We had the first meeting in Sydney last year, the second one in Washington D.C. right after the Obama Administration came into existence and the third one in Moscow. In these places and especially in Washington and in Moscow, we talked to the Governments and we proposed that we needed to work with them on the full agenda of nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The purpose of regional meetings is two-fold. First, nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy have to be looked at in terms of regional needs and regional dynamics as well as global. Second, they an opportunity for us to explain the goal of the Commission to the regional participants and to the people in the region more generally. As regards the Governments, we would like to solicit their cooperation because we feel that our cause is very important.

Our primary aim is to contribute to the success of NPT Review Conference which will take place in May next year. But our aim is not limited to this NPT Review Conference. We hope to continue to work to influence the movement of many people around the world working towards nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and increased peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

I would like to stop here and I just would like to say that we have had a very good meeting here. A variety of views have been expressed here. I am not sure if we have been able to come up with a consensus, but we have had a good meeting of minds in this region, which Mr Gareth Evans will describe now.

Thank you Yoriko.

The world is a very dangerous place at the moment with 23,000 nuclear weapons still in existence, 10,000 actively deployed, 3,000 launch-ready and 2,000 on air-trigger alert. It is the responsibility of countries in every region of the world to contribute to making the world a rather safer place than it is at the moment. There are four risks. The first risk is the accidental or miscalculated or deliberate use of those weapons that presently exist. The second risk is of proliferation to new countries adding more vulnerability and fragility than we even have at the moment. The third risk, as Yoriko said, terrorists misusing access to this material. And the fourth one is the potential risks that are associated with a significant increase in peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

All these issues were on the table in our discussion over the last two days and we did have a very good input from our regional contributors. Given the tensions in this region, given the history of the region and given the known strength of the position of India and Pakistan on issues like NPT membership, we came here with no great expectations of a breakthrough in terms of major new commitments being evident. And coming with those expectations we were not disappointed that there were no breakthroughs. But we did have a very good discussion. I think the issues were very clearly exposed.

What the Commission is concerned to do is to try to identify ways in which everyone can assist in winding back from this dreadful situation and ensuring that it doesn’t get worse. Some of the issues that we discussed with regional representatives today were aimed directly at that. Obviously, the biggest item on the agenda is to try and achieve nuclear disarmament in the region and moving away from the possession of nuclear weapons to completely giving them up. We know that will not happen any time soon. We know it is going to have to be a part of a larger multilateral process in which the US and Russia are going to have to exercise a major leadership role. Countries like China and other permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council and the regional weapon states are also going to have to participate.

But, I think, the Commission’s view is that it would be extremely helpful if a serious contribution to that process could be made in all the regions of the world where this is a live issue. We made the same point in the Middle East. So we did talk about ways of energizing multilateral negotiations in the conference on disarmament in Geneva and we were pleased to hear that both India and Pakistan are willing to use that forum to advance that cause. I think the Commission would want to probably recommend the desirability of an early commitment by them at least not to increase the size of their nuclear arsenals. We didn’t get much enthusiasm from the representatives or participants from India and Pakistan on that. But it is very much on our agenda and it would be a major contribution to confidence building and building momentum on disarmament if that is to happen.

The main focus, apart from that obvious one on disarmament itself, is on the immediate building blocks that are the subjects of intense international debate at the moment, the building blocks for both disarmament and non-proliferation. There are two of them in particular. One is the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty which neither India nor Pakistan has signed and which needs their signatures, and other countries as well, to come into force. We, as a Commission, discussed this at some length over the last two days. We think it would be extremely important for both India and Pakistan to indicate that they would follow suit if the US and China were to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. It doesn’t seem to be difficult because both countries are observing a moratorium on testing at the moment - that is, the voluntary willingness not to test. There doesn’t seem to be any particular security issue involved in going down that particular path. But it is still something which is yet to be agreed by these countries - but at least it is on the agenda as a result of the discussions over the last two days.

The other building block which is the subject of largely international debate at the moment, including in this region, is the treaty which is now started to be negotiated (we have a long way to go) in Geneva on banning the future production of fissile material - that is, highly enriched uranium or plutonium of the kind that could be used in weapons. The international community, as a whole, is very committed to those negotiations continuing. There is less enthusiasm for that treaty in this region, but again, I think, we had a very good discussion with different views being expressed around the table on that. The question of support for an FMCT is very much on the regional agenda and certainly international eyes are focused on how India and Pakistan, in particular, will play that particular issue.

So, these are the sort of things we talked about. It was a closed door meeting and so we cannot say very much more about who said what, who took what position. The whole point of these meetings is to expose the issues, to get the arguments out on the table, to get policy makers and people who influence policy makers to think seriously about them. I think, we succeeded in those objectives.

The other point about these meetings is to ensure that this Commission is fully sensitized, when we make our own recommendations, to the realities on the ground. It is no good producing yet another one of these reports with dreamy wish lists about what would be nice to have.

We have to, in our analysis or recommendations, have a very clear understanding of what the political dynamics, the regional dynamics, the regional tensions are in all the areas of the world where this is a live issue - and here in the South Asian Region, it is a very live issue indeed.

So, I think, we succeeded in both those objectives. We, as a Commission, have come away very well informed indeed about the regional perceptions and, I think, we at least succeeded in putting on the agenda for regional dialogue the particular issues that I mentioned.

That is the story and we would be very happy to respond to any questions that you might have.

Question: I like what you said in the end about the report being very interesting for intellectuals to read but having very few teeth to it. I think the teeth part I have added. I would like to know what you are planning with this report and how do you plan to get teeth into it? Have you discussed, for example, A.Q. Khan because that is where the problem lies? Yes, there is a small problem with accidental use by countries, but, at least, there is a command and control system in place. It is proliferation at that level that needs to be looked at and most urgently. So, have you discussed that and what will be your recommendations on that?

We acknowledge the need to accompany our recommendations with a very clear set of action plans, what has to happen in the short term, the medium term, the long term and bringing all these pieces together. The issue of security - security of material, security of technology - is very important so that you don’t have the export of information or the export of components of weapons in the future in an uncontrolled fashion. It is an extremely high priority for the whole international community. In the aftermath of the very unhappy A.Q. Khan affair, we have seen already put into place with UN resolutions and accompanying conventions and treaties quite a sophisticated and quite a comprehensive set of controls. The proof of the pudding, of course, is not just what is on paper, but have them implemented in practice.

I don’t think there is anything breathtakingly new that we are able to say about the nature of the controls because the international community has been appalled by the A.Q. Khan affair and it has been very responsive in terms of giving agreement on basic measures. What we have to do is to ensure that there is a commitment to the follow-through and the proper resourcing of those institutions including the International Atomic Energy Agency whose job is to detect what is going on and to report to the world at large. So, that is the basic approach on those issues.

I would just like to add that in the meeting that we had, I think, some hints in terms of regional cooperation on this matter. Again we are yet to write our report. So we don’t know how things will come out after discussions. But there were hints that we were able to get in terms of regional cooperation.

Question: There are countries like India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel which have not signed the NPT. I know it is a closed door meeting. But still what is the exact stand of the representatives from India? Did they say that India will not sign the NPT? Even though India conducted a nuclear test in 1998, India has not been recognized as a nuclear weapon state. That is for the legal document as per the NPT. So, what is India’s stand on that? Since it happened in India, that would be of interest to us. I know Mr Brajesh Mishra has been a participant and he is a former National Security Advisor. There have been quite a few other people who have been on multilateral forums, who have participated in this meeting. So, what is India’s stand on this? How would you like to cooperate with that in this case? If India could cooperate with that, the other countries like North Korea, Pakistan and Israel might also sign the NPT. So, what exactly happened in that case?

Your question is where India stands with respect to NPT. If you are from India – I don’t know if you are from India – I think you know it very well. The point was very well explained by participants from India as to why they are not signing the NPT: because it is an unequal treaty etc.

The short answer is, everybody knows, as Yoriko has acknowledged, India, Pakistan - and there is a question mark about Israel because it doesn’t acknowledge having nuclear weapons - that they are not going to join the NPT except as recognized nuclear weapon states. But the rest of the world is not going to have them in the NPT as nuclear weapon states only if they become non-nuclear weapon states. So we know what the problem is. There is a theoretical commitment to disarmament but it is a long way from practical realization. Until we get to a situation of actual disarmament where these countries are all non-nuclear weapon states, then they are not going to join the NPT.

So, what we have to do is not to be stalemated by this, we just have to get on with the business of working with the machinery that we do have. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty does not require you to be a member of the NPT to join that. But The Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty that I talked about in Geneva does not require you to be a member. Joining the IAEA and participating in its deliberations on policy development and conventions about anti-proliferation attitude does not require you to be a member of the NPT. Participating in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva does not require you to be a member of the NPT. There are all these mechanisms available for both India and Pakistan to come into the international mainstream and to become major contributors in advancing the cause of non-proliferation and being themselves committed to actual disarmament and participating in a genuine multilateral process to get there. You do not have to be a member of the NPT to do any of those things.

So, although we are all very passionate about the NPT because it is very close to being a universal treaty, there are only three countries outside it and four if the ambiguous status of North Korea is included. Ideally, yes, the NPT would be universal, but since we are not going to overcome the stalemate, let us get on with the business of making universal the norms, the rules, the disciplines, the commitments, the values that the NPT enshrines - and getting India and Pakistan signed up to those. That is what the debate is about. So, the NPT is not that central an issue from that point of view in this part of the world.

But at the same time, we made it clear that it is important that this region contribute, in some way, to strengthen the system that we have in place for the non-proliferation and also to reduce nuclear weapons. In fact, what can this region contribute was one of the issues that we were trying to pursue.

Question: You must be aware of the Santhanam controversy raging in our country about the size of the bomb. Did the Conference take note of that and what are your comments on that?

Well, it is up to India to determine the characteristics of its arsenal. The international interest is to ensure that no testing takes place so that it breaches the international moratorium on this. I think that would be the only thing that caused the Commission some concern. Of course, we don’t want to see any vertical proliferation either. We do not want to see any further development of anyone’s arsenals. We do not want to see the weapons getting even bigger or nastier and more destructive than they are at the moment and we doubt very much whether they need to be for any country in the world. There are enough deterrents out there to satisfy any enthusiast for a deterrent theory. But beyond that, I don’t think, or any other member of the Commission, would have a comment on the particular issue of the size of the bang that is involved in this particular controversy.

Question: Last year India got an exemption from the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group despite being a Non-NPT signatory. I wanted to know if the Commission had any view on India getting exemption to be allowed to have nuclear trade and get fuel from other countries, despite not signing the NPT.

The Indo-US Nuclear Deal, as approved by the Nuclear Suppliers Group, is something that has generated a lot of international controversy. I don’t think anyone seriously objects to the notion of an arrangement being made. It is consistent with what I said before. It is not a member of the NPT, but let us look at the mechanisms outside the NPT which expose these countries to the same kind of constraints. If India is entering into a deal where in exchange for giving access to nuclear materials and technological cooperation, it does some things in return which makes it part of the international disarmament and non-proliferation community, that is all well and good and I do not think anyone on our Commission would be wanting to argue with that.

The problem with the deal that was done last year is that from the perspective of most of us in the wider international community, there wasn’t enough quid pro quo for the quid that India, in fact, got in terms of being guaranteed of the technology, cooperation and fuel supply, in return. There was no requirement that it sign up in any formal way to not conduct more testing, it was not insisted that it cut off the production of fissile material for weapons purposes. Both of these steps would have been very important contributions to the global non-proliferation agenda and global disarmament agenda.

So, as a precedent for similar arrangements with other countries, Pakistan, Israel and so on, it is not one that fills us with joy and enthusiasm. But I don’t think anybody is blaming India for going down that particular path. India got the best deal that it could. It was just that the wider international community, starting with the US, didn’t extract the best deal in return. It really is very important that we keep as much of the tightness and discipline of the non-proliferation regime as we can.

India did sign up to having a few more civil reactors under safeguards than was the case before, but given the scale of India’s military nuclear establishment, that is not a huge step forward in terms of giving the rest of the world confidence that we are not adding to the problems rather than reducing them. That is the general perception and we will have a few more things to say about that in our report.

If I may add, it is not that the international community is 100 per cent hailing that agreement. I think there is, in the international community, a very fundamental concern that the India-US Treaty might work to jeopardize the very foundation of the NPT - and that feeling is always there.

May I just add that this is a press conference for the Commission, not a platform for individual countries to state their point of view. So I am keeping silent on India’s position. But I am sure our Indian correspondents, at least, will understand what India’s position is and it doesn’t need me to comment on what is just being said.

To be fair to India, we do acknowledge, as a Commission, that India has an excellent non-proliferation track record and if you had brought to this negotiation the kind of criterion-based approach of identifying half-a-dozen criteria which should be satisfied in terms of past and future behaviour before the rest of the world willing to enter into cooperation arrangement of this kind, I think, it would have been far less controversial than it has proved to be. But the Indian position is well known and understood and, as I say, the real problem is not so much with India getting the best deal that it could, very well negotiated, but with the rest of the world just being a bit too soft.

Question: I just wonder if you could share some of the discussions: were any concerns raised by participants regarding the Taliban getting access to nuclear weapons in Pakistan.

We spoke in general terms as to the danger of materials getting into the hands of people like the Taliban or people like that; and also there were some discussions on the political situation in Pakistan. But beyond that we are not disclosing the details of the discussion because that was in a closed-door meeting. Of course, if you talk about this region, I must say all the elements you can think of were brought out and discussed.

Question: Mr Brajesh Mishra is missing here. Can we know the reason for that?

He was not aware of this press conference. He had another commitment. That is all.

Brajesh was a very active participant in our meeting for the last two days. He is a very valued member of this Commission, fully committed to the objectives.

Question: What exactly is the timetable involved in the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons? Was there any discussion on that? The timetable is quite relevant to this Conference. So, did you discuss the timetable? I know it is a closed-door meeting. But did you discuss any timetable, any strategy or any sketchy plan?

Well, I can say that the basic approach of the Commission which we spelt out in explaining to our regional colleagues, was that this would be a pretty extended process; it is not going to happen quickly. For elimination of nuclear weapons, the short term time frame, which we have identified as running through to about 2012, is the phase in which a number of major stepping stones should be put in place - among them the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty and also the commencement of a serious multilateral process. The second stage we are talking about is of the next 15 years, through to about 2025. At this stage the object will be to get down to very low numbers worldwide together with complete agreement about the non-use of nuclear weapons except in retaliation for a nuclear attack; and a situation where they are basically locked away, not to pull the trigger except for survivability. If we can get to a world like that in 15 years, compared with the 23,000 weapons world that I described a few minutes ago, then we would be doing very well. But getting from there to actual zero is the last stage; and the Commission is not really minded to try and put a specific date on that. As much as we would like to be able to do so, it is going to depend upon both technical considerations about verification and enforcement about which people are going to have to be confident. And it is also going to depend upon a lot of other geo-political realities becoming a bit more stable than they are at the moment, including in particular neighbourhoods.

So, the idea is to get there as fast as we can. The idea is to get to this interim minimization point as fast as we possibly can, but not later than 2025 and to embark on the next stage from there. That is the general approach and by and large, I think, the regional participants welcome that - although there were a number of voices saying, ‘can you not make it faster, can you not get there quicker?’. To which we said in return, ‘yes, we will try, but you have got to help us in this region and you can exercise a real leadership role’. That is what we mean. The timetable starts to look a bit long again when you have the immediate discussion about what we have to do. That is the reality, but we are very passionate about getting there, getting to zero eventually. We think we can.

Question: Mr Evans, you were talking about CTBT and how it is important for India and Pakistan to be signing the CTBT; and what India has in consideration is the fact that if only China and US ratify the Test Ban, would India consider. Ms Kawaguchi, there is a lot of defence cooperation between Japan and the United States of America; what is your view on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, given the fact that the USA is not ratifying it yet?

When we had our meeting in Washington D.C., we talked about the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. We, as a Commission, feel that it is very important that the US ratifies CTBT. Also as the Foreign Minister of Japan, whenever I talked to my counterpart in America, I talked about the United States ratifying CTBT. So it is very important. We do hope that that will happen and also, I think, it is the wish of the Obama Administration in the US. If the United States does ratify, then there will be other countries who will follow. I do hope that India and Pakistan will also follow suit in signing and ratifying the CTBT because India and Pakistan are two countries without which the CTBT will not have any effect.

Well, I think, it is time to thank you all for your attention, especially on a Sunday afternoon. I would like, on behalf of the Delhi Policy Group, to thank our Commissioners and specially the two Co-chairs for the enormous amount of work and effort that they have taken and put in and we look forward to their continuing activity and to their ultimate and quick success.


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