Nuclear terrorism a formidable challenge: PM

The PM said the global non-proliferation regime has failed in preventing proliferation of N-weapons.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday described the spectre of nuclear terrorism as a formidable challenge and supported strengthening of global efforts in improving nuclear security. He also welcomed US President Barack Obama`s initiative to hold a summit on nuclear security next year.

While inaugurating the International Conference on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy here, Dr Singh said India has an updated, effective and comprehensive export controls system and is "committed to not transferring sensitive technologies and equipment to other countries that do not possess them".

"India is proud of its non-proliferation record and is committed to global efforts for preventing the proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction,” the PM told the conference.

While stating that India has been sponsoring a resolution at the UN General Assembly calling for measures to address the nuclear terrorism threat, Dr Singh said, "We support strengthening the international efforts in improving nuclear security and in this context, welcome President Obama`s timely initiative to hold a global Summit on Nuclear Security in 2010."

"We feel encouraged by some recent positive signs. President Barack Obama indicated in a significant speech at Prague in April this year the willingness of the United States to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in its national security strategy and work towards a vision of a world free of nuclear weapons," he said.

"The United States and Russia are also negotiating further cuts in their nuclear arsenals. States with substantial nuclear arsenals should take meaningful steps on nuclear disarmament."

‘Global failure’

The Prime Minister however reminded all that the world has failed in preventing proliferation of nuclear weapons.

“Global non-proliferation regime has not succeeded in preventing nuclear proliferation,” said Dr Singh, less than a week after the UNSC resolution called on all countries to comply with the obligations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to refrain from conducting nuclear test explosions and ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

"It is a matter of regret that the global non-proliferation regime has not succeeded in preventing nuclear proliferation. Its deficiencies, in fact, have had an adverse impact on our security," Dr Singh added.

India has refused to become a signatory to the NPT, alleging discrimination. New Delhi has made it clear that it would sign the NPT only if all states, including big powers like the US, Russia and China, fulfil their obligations under the Treaty.

"The international nuclear order cannot be discriminatory. Further, states must fulfil the obligations they have undertaken," External Affairs Minister SM Krishna had said while addressing the 64th session of the United Nations recently.

The Prime Minister too reiterated, on Tuesday, India’s position on the NPT and CTBT, saying India was committed to voluntary unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing, clearly indicating that it would not sign the two treaties.

“Global non-proliferation, to be successful, should be universal, comprehensive and non-discriminatory and linked to the goal of complete nuclear disarmament,” Dr Singh said while inaugurating the three-day International Conference on `Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy`.

The Prime Minister stated further that “as a nuclear weapon state and a responsible member of the international community, India will participate constructively in the negotiations of an FMCT (Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty) in the Conference on Disarmament”.

Focus on peaceful uses

The Prime Minister also talked about the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and how international co-operation can multiply the benefits of nuclear energy. He said India is willing to be a supplier for a proposed nuclear fuel bank.

The International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles is an example of such international cooperation, he said.

"India is a participant in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or ITER Project. We are ready to contribute to global research and development into new proliferation-resistant fuel cycles," Dr Singh said, adding, "There are proposals for an international fuel bank and we would support efforts in this direction as a supplier nation."

Dr Singh also stated that India has the capability of generating as much as 470,000 MW of power by 2050 if "we manage three stages of nuclear programme".

"If we can manage our programme well, our three-stage strategy could yield potentially 470,000 MW of power by the year 2050. This will sharply reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and will be a major contribution to global efforts to combat climate change," he stated.

The conference, which will discuss future roadmap for the growth of nuclear energy, is being attended by atomic scientists from across the world.

The conference is part of the year-long programme to mark the birth centenary of Homi Jehangir Bhabha, the founder of the country`s nuclear programme. Besides a host of nuclear scientists, the conference will be attended by Mohammad ElBaradei, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Bhabha was the President of the first International Conference on this subject held in Geneva in 1955.

The scientists will review the progress achieved in the field of nuclear energy over the last five decades and deliberate on the future challenges in peaceful use of atomic energy.

The conference is being organised by the Department of Atomic Energy in association with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Indian Nuclear Society.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee released a commemorative coin on the occasion.