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India calls for global action to strengthen nuclear security

Recognising the threat of nuclear terrorism, India has called for effective international cooperation and responsible action by governments to strengthen nuclear security and prevent non-state actors from acquiring vulnerable atomic material.



New York: Recognising the threat of nuclear terrorism, India has called for effective international cooperation and responsible action by governments to strengthen nuclear security and prevent non-state actors from acquiring vulnerable atomic material.

"There is widespread recognition that the threat of nuclear terrorism is one of the pressing challenges facing the international community. Responsible national action and effective international cooperation are therefore required for strengthening nuclear security to prevent vulnerable nuclear material falling into hands of non-state actors," First Secretary in the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations Abhishek Singh said.

Singh, in a statement on the annual report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the UN General Assembly here yesterday, said India has consistently supported IAEA's important role in facilitating national efforts to strengthen nuclear security and in fostering effective international cooperation.

He said as part of implementation of the arrangement with the IAEA concerning India's voluntary contribution to the Nuclear Security Fund, the services of Indian cost-free expert in information security are being provided to the Division of Nuclear Security of the IAEA.

Singh noted that the universal adherence to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials (CPPNM) and early entry into force of its 2005 Amendment would go a long way in strengthening global efforts in the area of nuclear security.

The amended Convention would make it legally binding for states parties to protect nuclear facilities and material in peaceful domestic use, storage as well as transport.

Singh said India is party to the CPPNM and is amongst the countries which have ratified the 2005 amendment to the Convention.

Singh emphasised that India's commitment to harnessing the benefits of nuclear energy for electricity production while according the highest priority to nuclear safety and security.

"India will need to rapidly raise the energy production to meet its growing energy requirements to achieve its developmental goals. Nuclear energy is an essential component of our energy basket," he said.

Underscoring India's commitment to implementing the highest standards for safety of its nuclear power plants and associated fuel cycle facilities, Singh said India will continue to participate and assist the IAEA Secretariat in its endeavour to enhance nuclear safety through the cluster of measures it has formulated in the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety.

Singh said the agency has an important role in allaying misapprehensions in the public and member states about the safety of nuclear power plants taking into account the current advances in relevant design and technology areas.

As part of India's commitment to implement the highest standards for the safety of Indian nuclear power plants, several steps have been taken to organise peer reviews at national and international level, Singh said adding that a "follow up mission" of the IAEA Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) to India for Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS) units took place in February this year.

Singh stressed the crucial role nuclear energy plays in achieving the objectives of India's sustainable economic growth.

He said the country is at the same time extensively engaged in development of nuclear technologies in diverse fields extending beyond nuclear power, including isotope applications for improved crop varieties, crop protection and post-harvest technologies, radio-isotope applications for diagnostic and therapeutic uses in health care and technologies for safe drinking water.

Singh noted the importance attached by India to IAEA's work in the fields of nuclear science.

"We contribute to these activities through participation in the Technical Meetings and coordinated Research Projects and also support the IAEA's programme in nuclear fusion," he said.

Singh said the agency's programme and achievements in relation to nuclear applications in food and agriculture, human health and nutrition, water resources management, protection of the environment and industry make a valuable contribution to meeting the needs of the developing countries.

"India is highly appreciative of the IAEA's efforts in cancer management, and in particular the Programme on Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT). India would continue to support agency activities in these areas, including by offering service of experts and training fellows in reputable institutions in the country," he said.

Singh told the UN General Assembly that the first unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, which achieved its first criticality in July last year, is now operating at close to its full rated power of 1000 MWe. The second unit is in an advanced stage of commissioning and construction of the 500 MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) is nearing completion at Kalpakkam and is expected to achieve first criticality in the next six months, Singh said.

India also continues to attach high priority for research and development on all aspects of Thorium-related reactor technologies and allied fuel cycle, he said.

The Indian diplomat said the process of selection of a site for construction of advanced heavy-water reactor is in an advanced stage.

The performance of several Indian fuel cycle facilities reached their highest levels last year, with the pressurised heavy-water reactor fuel production achieving an increase of 18 per cent over the previous year.

"With its excellent physical and nuclear properties Thorium is widely and rightly viewed as fuel of the future. India continues to carry forward intense development of Thorium fuel cycle based technologies for demonstration in its advanced heavy-water reactor programme," he said.

Singh noted that the commissioning of Actinide Separation Demonstration Facility of BARC at Tarapur has taken India to be one of the two advanced nuclear countries which could demonstrate separation of minor actinides from the High Level Waste (HLW).

"This approach would help in reducing substantially the life of radioactive waste, from around 1,000 years to about 300 years, as well as the volume of HLW requiring long-term storage," he said. 

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