India espouses the policy of “no first use” of atomic weapons against nuclear weapon states and non-use against non-nuclear weapon states even as it backs global efforts towards strengthening the non-proliferation order, foreign secretary Harsh Shringla has said.

Shringla made the remarks while representing India at a high-level plenary meeting to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on Friday.

Reiterating India’s long-standing commitment to universal, verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament leading to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, he said: “We believe that nuclear disarmament can be achieved through a step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed multilateral framework.”

Elaborating on the country’s nuclear doctrine, he said: “India espouses the policy of ‘no first use’ against nuclear weapon states and non-use against non-nuclear weapon states. India is a key partner in global efforts towards disarmament and strengthening the non-proliferation order.”

India, he added, remains convinced of the need for meaningful dialogue among all states possessing nuclear weapons to build trust and confidence. The country’s approach to nuclear disarmament is contained in its working paper submitted to the UN General Assembly’s first committee in 2006 and to the Conference on Disarmament in 2007, he said.

India’s annual resolution in the General Assembly on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons, tabled since 1982, enjoys wide support and reaffirms that any use of nuclear weapons would be a violation of the UN Charter and a crime against humanity, Shringla said.

The country has also tabled an annual resolution in the General Assembly since 1998 on “reducing nuclear danger” that calls for urgent steps to reduce the risks of unintentional and accidental use of nuclear weapons, including “through de-alerting and de-targeting”, he said.

India supports the start of negotiations on a “Comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention” at the Conference on Disarmament. “Without prejudice to the priority attached to nuclear disarmament, India remains committed to the immediate commencement of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty in the CD…,” he said.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres told delegates gathered to commemorate the event that “the world continues to live in the shadow of nuclear catastrophe”. Progress towards total elimination of nuclear weapons has “stalled and is at risk of backsliding”, he warned.