India must resume its vanguard role in ridding the world of nuclear weapons

Source– The post is based on the article “India must resume its vanguard role in ridding the world of nuclear weapons” published in The Indian Express on 19th November 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- International relations

Relevance: Nuclear threat to world security

News- The article explains the ICJ ruling on nuclear weapons and international law on this subject. It also explains India’s position on this matter.

What are the main points of ICJ ruling on nuclear weapons in 1996?

It permitted a state to use nuclear weapons in self-defence when its survival was at stake.

In the absence of a definitive law on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, the ICJ cannot conclude definitively whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful.

What is the current opinion of the world community about nuclear weapons?

Now, we do have an international law on this subject.

The UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was passed in January 2021

It was passed by 122 members of the UN General Assembly,  a clear majority.

It entered into force after its ratification by 50 member-States of the UN. The number of signatories has since risen to 91.

Any threat or use of nuclear weapons is now a clear violation of international law.

What has been India’s position on nuclear weapons?

Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi were opposed to possession, threat and use of nuclear weapons.

Rajiv Gandhi presented to the UN in 1988 a detailed action plan on how to arrive in stages to a nuclear-weapons-free and nonviolent world order within a timeline of 22 years.

Pranab Mukherjee, as foreign minister, proposed in the UN in 2006 a summary of the main objectives of the action plan as a working paper

India appears to have disavowed both the action plan and the working paper after the NDA government came to power.

What is the way forward for India?

India should assume its vanguard role for elimination of nuclear weapons.

It is the only state with the capacity and stockpile of nuclear weapons to join the current tide of world opinion for prohibition of these weapons.

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