World community must have zero tolerance on illegal trafficking of nuke items: PM

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Washington, Apr.13 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Tuesday appealed to the world community to have zero tolerance for individuals and groups that engage in illegal trafficking in nuclear items, and also said global non-proliferation should be universal.

Addressing leaders at the Nuclear Security Summit here, Dr. Singh said: "The world community should join hands to eliminate the risk of sensitive and valuable materials and technologies falling into hands of terrorists and illicit traffickers. There should be zero tolerance for individuals and groups which engage in illegal trafficking in nuclear items."

"Global non-proliferation, to be successful, should be universal, comprehensive and non-discriminatory and linked to the goal of complete nuclear disarmament," he added.

"We welcome the fact that the world is veering around to our view that the best guarantor of nuclear security is a world free from nuclear weapons,"

Recalling former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's call for global and complete nuclear disarmament over five decades ago, the Prime Minister said that in 2006, India had proposed the negotiation of a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

"We have also expressed our readiness to participate in the negotiation of an internationally verifiable Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty in the Conference on Disarmament," Dr. Singh said.

He further said that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had also put forward a concrete Action Plan in 1988 for the universal and non-discriminatory elimination of nuclear weapons leading to global nuclear disarmament in a time-bound framework.

"Today, I once again reiterate India's call to the world community to work towards the realisation of this vision. We welcome the agreement between the United States and Russia to cut their nuclear arsenals as a step in the right direction. I call upon all states with substantial nuclear arsenals to further accelerate this process by making deeper cuts that will lead to meaningful disarmament," he said.

"We are encouraged by the Nuclear Posture Review announced by President Obama. India supports the universalisation of the policy of No First Use. The salience of nuclear weapons in national defence and security doctrines must be reduced as a matter of priority," Dr. Singh said.

He said that the dangers of nuclear terrorism "make the early elimination of nuclear weapons a matter of even greater urgency."

In this context, he said that the Indian Atomic Energy Act provides the legal framework for securing nuclear materials and facilities, and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board ensures independent oversight of nuclear safety and security.

"We are party to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its 2005 amendment. India's three-stage nuclear power program, which began sixty years ago, is based on a closed nuclear fuel cycle. A direct benefit of this is that it ensures control over nuclear material that is generated as spent fuel," Dr. Singh said.

He added: "At the same time, we are continually upgrading technology to develop nuclear systems that are intrinsically safe, secure and proliferation resistant. We have recently developed an Advanced Heavy Water Reactor based on Low Enriched Uranium and thorium with new safety and proliferation-resistant features."

"India has maintained an impeccable non-proliferation record, of which we are proud of. As a responsible nuclear power, India has and will not be the source of proliferation of sensitive technologies. We have a well-established and effective export control system, which has worked without fail for over six decades," he said.

"We have strengthened this system by harmonisation of our guidelines and lists with those of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime. Our commitment to not transfer nuclear weapons or related materials and technologies to non-nuclear weapon states or non-state actors is enshrined in domestic law through the enactment of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Act. We stand committed not to transfer reprocessing and enrichment technologies and equipment to countries that do not possess them," he added.

As a founder member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, he said India has consistently supported the central role of the IAEA in facilitating national efforts to strengthen nuclear security and in fostering effective international cooperation.

"We have so far conducted nine Regional Training Courses on Nuclear Security in cooperation with the IAEA. We have entered into a Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA in 2008, and have decided to place all future civilian thermal power reactors and civilian breeder reactors under IAEA safeguards," he said.

"We will continue to work with the IAEA and our partners in the United Nations as well as other forums such as the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism to upgrade standards, share experiences and ensure effective implementation of international benchmarks on nuclear security," he concluded. By Ravinder Singh Robin (ANI)

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