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'Nuke weapons can be smuggled in via sea route'

February 18, 2009 16:46 IST

After the terror attack on Mumbai in November last year exposed the vulnerability of the Indian coastline, Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta on Wednesday said cargo containers could be used to transport nuclear weapons.

"Today, 70-75 global cargo is containerised. It is acknowledged that the container is the most likely means for terrorist organisations to illegally transport a nuclear weapon and, hence, there is a serious concern about container security," he said while inaugurating a seminar organised by the National Maritime Foundation in New Delhi.

He said the entry of nuclear weapons through containers was only one aspect of the concern of security agencies and these should be scanned thoroughly to ensure 100 per cent security.

"We have to ensure 100 per cent security at ports by scanning them (containers) under X-ray machines. Every country has to accede to it that wherever, whichever port the container leaves from, that country certifies that this container is fully secure," Mehta said.

Asked to comment on the threat from the Taliban, Mehta said, "I think that the type of low end threats such as light intensity operations, light intensity maritime operations and similar things will keep going on in the future. We have to be certainly more concerned with these kinds of threats."

Advocating for a Container Security Initiative of the United States for ensuring fool-proof container security at ports, Mehta said, "CSI should bean integral part of a country's security system. And if it is applicable only to the traffic that is moving towards the US, then it is not a complete fool proof system."

Noting that threats emanating from seas have been responsible for the emergence of new security mechanisms such as the CSI, he said, "With the emergence of new threats, there has been a need to revisit maritime security and this has led to the emergence of number of security regimes".

He admitted India has had its reservations over CSI and it was perceived to be questioning the sovereignty of a country.

Drawing parallels between arrangements such as CSI and security at the airports, he said, "The Airport security system has been working fairly well over a large number of years. And a similar security system for containers should have universal acceptance."

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