NPT Current Affairs

122 Countries adopts historic global treaty to ban Nuclear Weapons 

The United Nations has adopted a historic global treaty banning nuclear weapons. The treaty was adopted by a vote of 122 members in favour. The Netherlands was the only country who voted against the treaty. Singapore abstained from voting.

Costa Rica’s ambassador, Elayne Whyte Gomez, was the president of the UN conference that negotiated the treaty. Nearly 129 countries signed up to take part in the drafting of the treaty which represents two-thirds of the UN’s193 member states. Nearly 141 countries led by Austria, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and New Zealand drafted the treaty in a hope that the treaty would increase pressure on the nuclear powers to take disarmament more seriously.

The treaty would be opened for signature on September 20. It will enter into force once 50 countries ratified it. All of the ratifying countries should never under any circumstances develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. The treaty also bans any transfer or use of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices.

Opposition

The nine nuclear powers, namely, the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel neither took part in the negotiations nor cast their vote. Even Japan the sole sufferer of atomic attack refrained from taking part in the negotiations. Most of the NATO countries too boycotted the negotiations.

The nuclear powers view the treaty as unrealistic and argue that it will not have any impact on reducing the global stockpile of 15000 atomic weapons. According to the nuclear powers, their nuclear arsenals serve as a deterrent against nuclear attacks and they remain committed to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The NPT seeks to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and puts the onus on nuclear states to reduce their stockpiles.

But the non-nuclear states are increasingly worried about the slow pace of disarmament and are concerned that weapons of mass destruction may fall into the wrong hands.

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India, New Zealand ink three agreements including avoidance of double taxation

India and New Zealand signed three agreements in the areas of double taxation avoidance (DTA), sports and food security to carry forward the ties between both sides.

The agreements were signed in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his New Zealand counterpart John Key after the delegation-level talks in New Delhi.

Both countries have reached an understanding on further cooperation on cyber security, counter-terrorism, customs, education and food safety

Signed agreements are

  • Arrangement between the Ministry for Primary Industries of New Zealand regarding Food Safety Cooperation and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)
  • MoU on cooperation in the field of youth affairs and sports. It was signed between the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports of India and Sport New Zealand.
  • Protocol to the convention for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.

Besides, both countries also agreed to

  • Establish Bilateral Ministerial Dialogue between two Foreign Ministries.
  • Establish Annual Foreign Ministry Consultations at Senior Officials Level.
  • Cooperation and Dialogue on Cyber Issues.

Support for NSG

During this visit of New Zealand PM, India failed to get outright support of New Zealand for its  bid for Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) membership. India had clearly notified New Zealand that its entry to the NSG was tied to its need for clean energy and climate change commitments. Thus, it indicates that New Zealand is yet to change its position of admitting only signatories of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) countries in NSG, a group of 48 countries which works by consensus.

Why New Zealand does not support India’s bid to NSG?

New Zealand is part of a group called the New Agenda for Coalition which promotes the NPT and pushes for nuclear disarmament worldwide.

Comment

  • The official state visit New Zealand PM John Key comes in run-up to a crucial NSG Consultative Group (CG) meeting to be held in Vienna in November 2016.
  • This meeting will specifically to consider whether countries that haven’t signed on to the NPT can be considered for membership.
  • Earlier in June 2016, India’s membership bid to NSG had failed to make headway in Seoul (South Korea) after it was opposed by China and other countries.
  • New Zealand was also among the countries led by China that have demanded to set criteria for non-signatories of the NPT for joining NSG.

What is New Agenda for Coalition (NAC)?

NAC is a geographically dispersed group of middle power countries that promotes the NPT and pushes for nuclear disarmament worldwide. It consists of Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa. The group was officially launched in Dublin (Ireland) in June 1998 in response to the North-South divide that stymied talks on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation within the framework of the NPT.

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