|By Nilova Roy Chaudhury||February 2017|
New Delhi. India is aiming to showcase its impeccable nuclear non-proliferation credentials and bolster its case for entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) by hosting a crucial meeting of a group against nuclear terrorism. The Implementation and Assessment Group Meeting of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) is being held in New Delhi from February 8 to 10.
At a time when China is steadfastly refusing to allow India’s entry into the NSG, New Delhi aims to further garner support for India’s entry into the elite nuclear commerce grouping.
India is hoping the meeting would again highlight the continued priority it attaches to nuclear security and its efforts to further strengthen institutional non-proliferation frameworks, enhance capacity building and promote international cooperation.
According to the MEA, “This event highlights India’s commitment to global nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It is a part of our overall engagement with the international community on nuclear security issues.”
Around 150 delegates from various GICNT partner countries and international organisations will participate in the event. Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar will inaugurate the meeting, while R B Grover, member of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission, will conclude the proceedings.
The GICNT was launched in 2006, jointly by Russia and the US. Over the past 10 years, it has grown to include 86 partner-nations and five official observer organisations. The GICNT comprises four working groups; Implementation and Assessment Group, Nuclear Detection Working Group, Nuclear Forensics Working Group and Response and Mitigation Working Group.
“The possible use of weapons of mass destruction and related material by terrorists is no longer a theoretical concern,” the MEA said in a statement. “A breach of nuclear security may lead to unimaginable consequences. Such an event would have a global impact. It is imperative to strengthen international efforts to combat such threats. This meeting is therefore timely and important and would further enhance our vigil.”
Situated as it is, next to a global epicentre of terrorism, New Delhi cannot afford to let its guard down and risk the global community’s worst nightmare: nuclear assets in the hand of terrorists.
The meeting is in consonance with what Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated in April last year at the Nuclear Security Summit held in Washington.
India views nuclear technology and nuclear materials primarily as a renewable resource to meet part of its requirements for electricity, to fuel development.
India, a pioneer of the non-proliferation movement, considers nuclear power as safe, reliable, affordable and environmentally friendly and is developing nuclear technologies.
Nuclear industry and research centres in India have internalized security practices in their day-to-day working and have created a strong security culture in their respective organizations. In tune with the security requirements as perceived by India, the nuclear security architecture in the country has been strengthened and India has also participated in strengthening security architecture at the global level.
Prior to the last summit in Washington in April 2016, the Department of Atomic Energy outlined some details of India’s nuclear non-proliferation strategy.
India is party to all the 13 universal instruments accepted as benchmarks for a nation’s commitments to combat international terrorism. India is party to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials (CPPNM) and has ratified its 2005 amendment. India looks forward to its early entry into force. India is also part of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.
The Indian Atomic Energy Act, 1962 provides the legal framework for all aspects related to development of nuclear and radiation technologies including their security. Rules and guidelines issued under this Act include those related to export controls, which are continuously updated, and include controls on export of related technologies.
India’s export controls list and guidelines have been harmonized with those of NSG and looks forward to strengthening its contribution to shared non-proliferation objectives through membership of the export controls regimes. In 2005, India enacted the Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems Act, 2005. This gives effect to India’s obligations under the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1540.
Institutionally, the security of nuclear and radiological material in India is ensured through robust oversight by India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).
The use of Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) instead of High Enriched Uranium (HEU) to preclude the threat from the misuse of HEU is one of the aims of the global nuclear security community. The only reactor in India using HEU has been shut down and the planned replacement reactor will not use HEU.
India, although not a member of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), strictly adheres to the principle of “reprocess to reuse” whereby reprocessing of the spent fuel and commissioning of fast reactors are being synchronized to preclude any build-up of a plutonium stockpile.
The AERB has instituted very robust regulatory mechanisms to ensure safety and security of radiation sources from ‘cradle to grave;’ including security of radioactive sources and radiation Facilities and security of radioactive material during transport.
India has developed a network of 23 Emergency Response Centres, spread across the country, to detect and respond to any nuclear or radiological emergency, anywhere in the country. All major sea ports and airports of the country are being equipped with radiation portals & detection equipment to monitor all vehicular, passenger and cargo traffic.
New Delhi intends to highlight at the meeting all of the multifarious security measures it has adopted and enacted to ensure all its nuclear assets are safe.