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May 7, 1968

Memo to the CPSU CC: Regarding the Decision of the Communist Party of India (CPI) to Oppose Signing the NPT

This document was made possible with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)


[Handwritten: “to the Politburo for voting on the decision”]


[Square stamp reads: CPSU CC


7 May 1968



1st Sector 

According to the communication received from Delhi (sh/t KGB No.750), the Central Executive Committee of the National Council of the Communist Party of India, in a closed session in Delhi, adopted a decision that the Communist Party of India would oppose signing the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons by India. They are not going to make an official announcement about this decision. However, the members of the parliament from the CPI were instructed to vote against the non-proliferation treaty, using the arguments similar to arguments of the government of India on this issue.

Specifically, the CPI considers the non-proliferation unacceptable for India because it “infringes” upon the sovereignty of India, depriving it of the right to produce nuclear weapons, and impedes the development of nuclear research for peaceful purposes. Additionally, the CPI is against the treaty because it “doesn’t trust” the concept of guarantees, and believes that the US is not interested in providing these guarantees to India.

In the course of recent parliamentary debates on foreign policy issues the deputy leader of the CPI parliamentary faction, H. [Hirendranath] Mukherjee, stated that “India is a country that doesn’t put its signature when someone orders it to do so. It doesn’t have any need to sign a non-proliferation treaty. India will continue its campaign for nuclear disarmament.” The editorial article, published the other day in the CPI’s central body, TheNew Age newspaper, is written in a similar spirit.

It is worth pointing out that this is not the first time when the leadership of the CPI has taken the position opposing the positions of the CPSU and the Soviet Government on some important issues of international politics. For example, the CPI leadership, who at one point had an extremely nationalistic position on the issue of armed conflict between India and Pakistan, was very critical of the Soviet Government’s initiative in organizing the meeting of the heads of state of India and Pakistan in Tashkent.

We have reason to believe that the decision on negative attitude of Indian CP to the non-proliferation treaty was made at the meeting of the party’s executive committee partially for fear of the party being accused of “anti-patriotism”, and partially as a result of the issues of international politics not being examined and comprehended in-depth by the CPI leadership, which often leads to taking hasty decisions which are reconsidered later on. We do not rule out the possibility that the CPI leadership is not aware of some important aspects of the struggle around the issue of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and of the nuclear disarmament, and it is possible that it does not fully comprehend the importance of the non-proliferation treaty for the progressive, peaceful forces around the world in the first place.

Taking into account the above, we believe that it is advisable to forward to the CPI leadership comprehensive information on the issue of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons along the lines of the CPSU CC’s decree of March 29 of this year Nº P 77/48, taking into account that such a step on our part could positively influence the position of the CPI and weaken its opposition to the treaty.

A draft CPSU CCs decree is attached.

7 May 1968 [illegible signature, possibly Ponomarev]

This memo informs the Central Committee of the USSR of the Communist Party of India's decision to oppose signing the NPT due to perceived infringements on Indian sovereignty and a mistrust in the concept of security guarantees to India by the US. The recommended course of action is to forward comprehensive information to the CPI about the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons along the lines of a March 29 CPSU CC decree of that year in the hopes that the CPI's opinion on the NPT will change.

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Sokhraniaia nasledie: Initsiativa gosudarstv-depozitariev v sviazi s 50-letiem vstupleniia DNIaO v silu [Preserving the Legacy: A Depository-hosted Initiative on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the NPT's Entry into Force] (Moscow: Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2020): 84-85. Translated by Angela Greenfield.


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