International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohammad ElBaradei on Tuesday acknowledged India as a “leading advocate” for nuclear disarmament and felt the world must listen to its “voice” for the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons. In the civil nuclear arena, he described India as a “role model” for developing countries and wanted them to gain from its technological expertise.
“India called for the elimination of all nuclear weapons as far back as 1948. It is important that India’s voice should continue to be heard as a leading advocate for nuclear disarmament,” he observed, while addressing the ‘International Conference on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy’ here.
“It has to be a system built on human solidarity and equity; a system based on cooperation and not confrontation; on inclusion and not exclusion,” Dr. ElBaradei suggested.
“Let me say a few words on India’s current role in using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and lessons it can teach other countries. India undertakes a lot of research in advanced fuel cycles based on thorium fuel as it has abundant reserves and a comparative shortage of uranium. India continues to set the agenda for research and development in the field of sodium-cooled fast breeder reactors,” the IAEA chief added during his reference to India as a role model.
However he cautioned that countries planning to build nuclear reactors must understand the need to ensure the highest safety standards and avoid problems faced by some countries which already have nuclear power. These problems include ageing reactors, poorly managed plants or weak regulators. “A strong focus on safety and security should be seen as enablers for the further development of nuclear energy rather than as hindrances,” Dr. ElBaradei advised.
Indira Gandhi Prize
Dr. ElBaradei will be conferred the prestigious Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development by President Pratibha Patil at Rashtrapati Bhawan on Wednesday. The jury, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, had decided to confer the award on him in November last year.
The IAEA chief is being recognised for “his impassioned opposition to the use of nuclear energy for military purposes and his steadfast espousal of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, sustained over many years.” He had played an important role in India being accepted in the civil nuclear commerce mainstream.