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India's Singh Wants Global Convention on No-First Use of Nuclear Arms

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday called for the establishment of a global convention on a no-first-use policy for nuclear weapons.

"If all states possessing nuclear weapons recognize that if this is so" -- that is, that nuclear weapons are only for deterrence -- "and are prepared to declare it, we can quickly move to the establishment of global no-first use norm," Singh was quoted by the Press Trust of India as saying at a seminar on how to achieve worldwide nuclear disarmament.

New Delhi previously proclaimed its desire for such a worldwide pact that would involve all nuclear-armed countries pledging to never be the first one in a conflict to use their atomic weapons. India and China already have declared nuclear doctrines of no-first use.

India is estimated to retain an arsenal of roughly 100 weapons, a stockpile believed similar in size to its regional rival, Pakistan.

Singh touted a no-first use convention as an important step that could "open the ways to gradual reduction and finally elimination through a nuclear weapon convention."

Some countries have begun trying to drum up support for establishing a deadline for atomic weapon possessor states to begin negotiations on a nuclear disarmament treaty.

Singh said while it was a good idea for countries in their national defense doctrines to limit the number of circumstances under which their nuclear weapons could be employed, nations would have to act together in this arena.

"What is important today is an agreed multilateral framework that can involve all states possessing nuclear weapons," the prime minister said. "What is needed is focus on practical measures that reduce nuclear dangers."

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