Washington: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said India’s position about dangers of “international terrorism and clandestine proliferation” had been vindicated at the Nuclear Security Summit that recognised the threat and committed 47 countries to prevent non-state actors from obtaining atomic technology.
“The intersection of international terrorism and clandestine proliferation affects our security directly. The concerns that we have been expressing for decades on the dangers of proliferation and risk of nuclear materials finding their way into the wrong hands are today finding widespread acceptance,” Singh said after the two-day Summit.
He noted that when India called for the total elimination of nuclear weapons in the 1950s, its voice was not heeded.
“Today the world is veering around to the vision we had put forward of a world free from nuclear weapons. The world is beginning to see merit in pursuing universal, non-discriminatory and complete nuclear disarmament,” he said, adding India would continue to persevere in this direction.
“After listening to the world leaders at the Summit, I feel a sense of vindication of India’s position,” Singh said.
Welcoming the initiative taken by President Barack Obama to focus the attention of the international community on nuclear security, he said it was an important issue for India “because without ensuring security we will not be able to harness nuclear energy for our developmental purposes.”
He referred to his announcement to establish a Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership, which will be owned and managed by the government, and said “the initiative is the next logical step in India’s engagement with the world after the opening of international civil nuclear cooperation with India.”
After two days of deliberations in the backdrop of particular concerns with regard to the safety of nuclear material in Pakistan, the nuclear summit issued a three-page ‘Communique´ and a seven-page ‘Work Plan´ detailing the national responsibilities and international obligations that each participating country would have to undertake.
Significantly, it had no reference to Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which was a result of hard work by Indian negotiators.
The Communique noted that nuclear terrorism was one of the most challenging threats to international security and “strong nuclear security measures are the most effective means to prevent terrorists, criminals, or other unauthorised actors from acquiring nuclear materials.
Those gathered at the Summit “commit to strengthen nuclear security and reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism. Success will require responsible national actions and sustained and effective international cooperation,” the communique said.
It commits the participating countries, including Pakistan, to cooperate effectively to “prevent and respond to incidents of illicit nuclear trafficking” and agree to share, subject to respective national laws and procedures, information and expertise through bilateral and multilateral mechanisms in relevant areas such as nuclear detection, forensics, law enforcement and the development of new technologies.
“Maintaining effective nuclear security will require continuous national efforts facilitated by international cooperation and undertaken on a voluntary basis by the (participating) states.
“We will promote the strengthening of global nuclear security through dialogue and cooperation with all states,” it said.
Significantly, it said that the member countries recognise that highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium require special precautions and agree to promote measures to secure, account for, and consolidate these materials appropriately.
It also commits countries to convert reactors from highly enriched to low enriched uranium fuel and minimisation of use of highly enriched uranium, where technically and economically feasible.
The communique also commits the countries to endeavour to fully implement all existing nuclear security commitments and work toward acceding to those not yet joined, consistent with national laws, policies and procedures.
In a clause significant in the context of India, the communique says that the participating countries would support implementation of strong nuclear security practices which would “not infringe upon the rights of States to develop and utilise nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and technology and will facilitate international cooperation in the field of nuclear security.”
The communique said the participating countries would support the objectives of international nuclear security instruments, including the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism as “essential elements of the global nuclear security architecture”.
It reaffirmed the essential role of the IAEA in the international nuclear security framework.
The Work Plan says that the participating countries would strive to improve their national criminal laws to ensure that they have the adequate authority to prosecute all types of cases of illicit nuclear trafficking and nuclear terrorism and commit to prosecuting these crimes to the full extent of the law.
The participating countries are encouraged to develop and apply mechanisms to expand sharing of information on issues, challenges, risks and solutions related to nuclear security, nuclear terrorism and illicit nuclear trafficking in a comprehensive and timely manner.
The participating countries are “encouraged” to develop methods and mechanisms to enhance bilateral and multilateral collaboration in sharing urgent and relevant information on nuclear security and incidents involving illicit nuclear trafficking.
The participating countries would also explore ways to enhance broader cooperation among local, national and international customs and law enforcement bodies to prevent illicit nuclear trafficking and acts of nuclear terrorism, through joint exercises and sharing of best practices.