India stakes claim to membership of excl N-clubs

India today 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.

Seoul: India today 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

He underlined that India had already adhered to the
guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NBG) and the
Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

"As a likeminded 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," Singh said.

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

At the same time, 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 one
million dollars 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 is 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, 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

Nuclear safety evaluations were being put in the public
domain to enhance transparency and boost public confidence,
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.

The Prime Minister 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 US, 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.

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 UNSC 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.

Singh 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.

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