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India pitches for membership of exclusive nuclear clubs

March 27, 2012 12:12 IST
India on Tuesday made a strong pitch for membership of four exclusive nuclear clubs contending that it would help strengthen its export control systems and maintain highest international standards of its nuclear programme.

"India has never been a source of proliferation of sensitive technologies and we are determined to further strengthen our export control systems to keep them on par with the highest international standards," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, addressing the second Nuclear Security Summit in  Seoul He underlined that India had already adhered to the guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime.

"As a like-minded country with the ability and willingness to promote global non-proliferation objectives, we believe that the next logical step is India's membership of the four export control regimes," Dr Singh said.

India is keen for membership of the NSG, MTCR, Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group.

At the same time, Dr Singh said an agreed multilateral framework involving all states possessing nuclear weapons was necessary to attain the goal of a nuclear weapons free world. "This should include measures to reduce nuclear dangers by reducing the salience of nuclear weapons in security doctrines and by increasing universal restraints on the first use of nuclear weapons," he said.

The prime minister also announced a contribution of $ 1 million to the International Atomic Energy Agency's Nuclear Security Fund for the years 2012-13. He said India was also expanding its technical assistance to developing countries, including providing "our indigenously developed Cobalt tele-therapy machines -- Bhabhatrons -- for cancer treatment".

The tele-therapy machines have been donated to Vietnam in 2008 and agreements have been signed with Sri Lanka and Namibia for its supply, which are a step towards affordable treatment of cancer.

The prime minister also released the National Progress Report on the steps taken by India to secure its nuclear installations and fissile material.

On India's nuclear programme, Dr Singh said comprehensive reviews of nuclear safety measures have been undertaken at nuclear facilities.

"India has invited the Operational Safety Review Teams of the IAEA to assist in its own safety reviews and audit," he said.

Nuclear safety evaluations were being put in the public domain to enhance transparency and boost public confidence, Dr Singh said, adding that India was also in the process of setting up a statutory, independent and autonomous Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority. "We are strengthening emergency preparedness and response to nuclear accidents," he said.

Dr Singh said India was determined that its expanded nuclear power programme would follow the highest standards of nuclear safety and security, whose synergy is essential to restore public faith in nuclear energy, especially after the tragic events at Fukushima.

 He said the Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership, which India had announced at the Washington Summit in 2010, has been making good progress and the physical infrastructure for the Centre was being set up.

"We have commenced 'off-campus' courses. Such courses will be held more frequently in the future," he said, adding documents have been signed for cooperation on the Global Centre with the United States, Russia, France and the IAEA.

India will participate in IAEA's 2013 International Coordinating Conference of various nuclear security activities, including the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and the Global Partnership, he said.

Dr Singh said nuclear terrorism will remain a potent threat as long as there are terrorists seeking to gain access to nuclear material and technologies for malicious purposes. "India is acutely conscious of this threat," he said, adding that an India-piloted resolution on measures to deny terrorists access to weapons of mass destruction had been adopted since 2002.

He said India backed the extension of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1540 and the work of its Committee. The resolution seeks enforcement of legal and regulatory measures against the proliferation of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons to non-state actors.

The prime minister said nuclear security was primarily a national responsibility but there were benefits to be gained by supplementing responsible national actions through sustained and effective international cooperation. "India is party to the main international legal instruments on nuclear security -- the Convention on Physical Protection and its 2005 amendment, as well as the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. We support the universalisation of these instruments," he said.

He also noted that India has contributed actively to the Nuclear Security Summit process, including hosting a Sherpa meeting in New Delhi in January.

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