New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday embarked on a visit to the US to attend the Nuclear
Security Summit where he is expected to pitch for firm
response to the challenges of proliferation and possibility of
terrorists gaining access to nuclear material.
During the eight-day visit, Singh will also travel to
Brazil to attend the Brazil-Russia-India-China (BRIC) and
India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Summits, where Iran`s
controversial nuclear programme and the impending UN sanctions
would be among the key issues of discussions.
In the first leg of the tour, Singh will be in
Washington for four days during which he will attend the
two-day Nuclear Security Summit on April 12 and 13 and meet US
President Barack Obama and some other world leaders.
The Summit, an initiative of Obama, will focus on
dangers posed by clandestine proliferation and illicit
trafficking of nuclear material and the possibility of
terrorists acquiring atomic material.
Singh is expected to share India`s apprehensions about
terrorists acquiring weapons of mass destruction. The threat
is greater in Pakistan, where nuclear material is believed to
be not too safe.
Ahead of his visit, the Prime Minister said nuclear
terrorism and proliferation of sensitive technologies are
"legitimate concerns" which require "firm responses".
He emphasised the need for "highest standards of
security" in the nuclear field to reinforce public faith in
the benefit of atomic science.
"India welcomes President Obama`s initiative to hold a
Summit on Nuclear Security," said Singh, who will join leaders
of 42 other countries in discussing ways to strengthen global
initiatives for securing nuclear material and installations
amid concerns of terrorists gaining access to these.
Singh said he expected the Summit to focus on nuclear
terrorism and proliferation of sensitive nuclear materials and
"These are legitimate concerns which require firm
responses," the Prime Minister said.
Noting that nuclear energy was poised to play a growing
role in addressing the developmental challenges of the present
times, he said, "This will be possible only if we, as
individual nations, and as a global community ensure the
highest standards of security which reinforce public faith in
the benefits of nuclear science."
He pointed out that India was an important stakeholder in
this global endeavour.
Talking about India`s well developed and indigenous
nuclear energy programme, which dates back six decades, Singh
said, "We have an impeccable record of security, safety and
non-proliferation which reflects in our conduct as a
responsible nuclear power."
The Prime Minister underlined that India has been a
consistent advocate of complete and universal global nuclear
"We were among the first countries in the world to call
for a world free of nuclear weapons. I am encouraged by the
fact that this approach is finding greater resonance today,"
he said, adding India will continue to call for more
meaningful progress in this direction.
At the Summit, Singh is expected to underline the need
for greater impetus to securing nuclear material through
physical protection and legal mechanisms.
Singh is also likely to propose setting up of an
International Nuclear Safety Centre in India.
India sees the Summit and its associated preparatory
process as important elements in strengthening international
resolve to cooperate on nuclear security and supporting the
expanded use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
"This will be to India`s benefit given our concerns on
terrorism as well as our interest in the expansion of civil
nuclear energy," Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said a few
days back while talking about the upcoming Summit.
During his stay in Washington, Singh will meet Obama,
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Kazakhstan President
Nursultan Nazarbaev and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen
At BRIC and IBSA Summits, Iran`s controversial nuclear
programme and the impending UN sanctions would be among the
key issues of discussions.
"These groupings reflect the growing role of emerging
economies in shaping the global economic order," the Prime
He said the IBSA process has come of age as it today
encompasses a wide range of activities which supplement the
excellent bilateral relations that India enjoys with each of
"Our coordination on important international issues has
expanded, and our trilateral cooperation is beginning to bear
fruit in many sectors," the Prime Minister said.
The BRIC countries are among the largest and fastest
growing economies with rich human and material resources. They
represent the future of the global economic landscape.
"We have a high stake in the revival of the global
economy, an open trading system, energy security, combating
climate change and addressing non-traditional threats to
international security," he said.
Countries like Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela have
not been invited for the Summit in Washington.
However, Iran`s nuclear issue and the controversy
surrounding it will be discussed under the BRIC format in
Brasilia by Singh, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Chinese
President Hu Jintao and Brazilian President Lula da Silva.
Iran will be part of "focused agenda" of the BRIC Summit
for the first time, said Parbati Sen Vyas, Secretary (Economic
Relations) in the Ministry of External Affairs.