India refuses to sign CTBT but will stay in the Geneva conference.
With India's refusal to sign the CTBT in its current form, the country has come under a mushroom cloud of biased international criticism. While detractors paint India as a trouble maker in the conference, many countries are using India's stand to mask their own discomfort with the current draft of the treaty.
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) conference in Geneva has been postponed to July 29 after 30 months of delicate negotiations failed to result in an agreement. As expected, India refused
to sign the treaty, but chose to stay on in the talks rather than walk out.
India has consistently argued that the treaty is discriminatory and until the leading nuclear powers give a concrete timetable to eliminate their stockpiles there was no point in signing any treaty. Countries like India, Pakistan and China have said that the text of the treaty does not meet their concerns.
India announced recently that it would not sign the treaty, effectively eliminating any chances of the talks reaching any conclusion. India's decision has been criticized by many countries - the sharpest attack came from Britain and the Indian government has even hinted that such criticism could affect bilateral relations.
India has been painted as a spoiler of the conference, but it became increasingly clear after India's stand that many of the leading nuclear
nations too had their reservations on the treaty and were "hiding behind India's skirts" as a leading Indian diplomat put it. The Indian
establishment claims there is a campaign to discredit India even though Britain and Russia are among the countries that do not want the treaty in its present form. Britain linked the success of the treaty to India's signature, a statement which many observers have found extraordinary.
India is considered a threshold nuclear state though it has only once tested a nuclear device in 1974 and has affirmed its commitment to peaceful use of nuclear energy. However it has also said that it will not give up the nuclear option because some of its hostile neighbors have nuclear weapons or have the ability to make them. India has called for all round disarmament.
Sidharth Bhatia is a senior Indian journalist who runs a well known television
program on Indian business and current affairs. A former newspaper editor
and foreign correspondent, Bhatia has written for several publications in
India and abroad.