Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said India’s position about dangers of “international terrorism and clandestine proliferation” had been vindicated at the Nuclear Security Summit that recognised the threat and committed 47 countries to prevent non-state actors from obtaining atomic technology.
“The intersection of international terrorism and clandestine proliferation affects our security directly. The concerns that we have been expressing for decades on the dangers of proliferation and risk of nuclear materials finding their way into the wrong hands are today finding widespread acceptance,” Dr. Singh said after two-day Summit.
Elimination of nuke weapons
He noted that when India called for the total elimination of nuclear weapons in the 1950s, its voice was not heeded.
“Today the world is veering around to the vision we had put forward of a world free from nuclear weapons. The world is beginning to see merit in pursuing universal, non-discriminatory and complete nuclear disarmament,” he said, adding India would continue to persevere in this direction.
“After listening to the world leaders at the Summit, I feel a sense of vindication of India’s position,” Dr. Singh said.
Welcoming the initiative taken by President Barack Obama to focus the attention of the international community on nuclear security, he said it was an important issue for India “because without ensuring security we will not be able to harness nuclear energy for our developmental purposes.”
He referred to his announcement to establish a Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership, which will be owned and managed by the government, and said “the initiative is the next logical step in India’s engagement with the world after the opening of international civil nuclear cooperation with India.”
After two days of deliberations in the backdrop of particular concerns with regard to the safety of nuclear material in Pakistan, the nuclear summit issued a three-page ’Communique’ and a seven-page ‘Work Plan’ detailing the national responsibilities and international obligations that each participating country would have to undertake.
Significantly, it had no reference to Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which was a result of hard work by Indian negotiators.
The Communique noted that nuclear terrorism was one of the most challenging threats to international security and “strong nuclear security measures are the most effective means to prevent terrorists, criminals, or other unauthorised actors from acquiring nuclear materials.
Those gathered at the Summit “commit to strengthen nuclear security and reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism.
Success will require responsible national actions and sustained and effective international cooperation,” the communique said.
It commits the participating countries, including Pakistan, to cooperate effectively to “prevent and respond to incidents of illicit nuclear trafficking” and agree to share, subject to respective national laws and procedures, information and expertise through bilateral and multilateral mechanisms in relevant areas such as nuclear detection, forensics, law enforcement and the development of new technologies.
“Maintaining effective nuclear security will require continuous national efforts facilitated by international cooperation and undertaken on a voluntary basis by the (participating) states.
“We will promote the strengthening of global nuclear security through dialogue and cooperation with all states,” it said.
Significantly, it said that the member countries recognise that highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium require special precautions and agree to promote measures to secure, account for, and consolidate these materials appropriately.
It also commits countries to convert reactors from highly enriched to low enriched uranium fuel and minimisation of use of highly enriched uranium, where technically and economically feasible.
The communique also commits the countries to endeavour to fully implement all existing nuclear security commitments and work toward acceding to those not yet joined, consistent with national laws, policies and procedures.
In a clause significant in the context of India, the communique says that the participating countries would support implementation of strong nuclear security practices which would “not infringe upon the rights of States to develop and utilise nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and technology and will facilitate international cooperation in the field of nuclear security.”
International community would now be safer: Obama
Satisfied with the outcome of the Nuclear Security Summit, which vowed to lock down all nuclear materials in four years and prevent terrorist groups from laying a hand on it, US President Barack Obama said the world will be more secure now.
“We have seized this opportunity, and because of the steps we’ve taken -- as individual nations and as an international community -- the American people will be safer and the world will be more secure,” Mr. Obama told reporters after conclusion of the two-day conference attended by leaders from 47 nations.
“Today’s progress was possible because these leaders came not simply to talk, but to take action; not simply to make vague pledges of future action, but to commit to meaningful steps that they are prepared to implement right now,” Mr. Obama said terming the summit as a day of great success.
“We also agreed that the most effective way to prevent terrorists and criminals from acquiring nuclear materials is through strong nuclear security -- protecting nuclear materials and preventing nuclear smuggling,” he said.
He said that today is a testament to what is possible when nations come together in a spirit of partnership to embrace their shared responsibility and confront a shared challenge.
“This is how we will solve problems and advance the security of our people in the 21st century. And this is reflected in the communique that we have unanimously agreed to today,” he said.
“We agreed on the urgency and seriousness of the threat. Coming into this summit, there were a range of views on this danger. But at our dinner last night, and throughout the day, we developed a shared understanding of the risk,” he said, adding that at the summit world leaders have declared that nuclear terrorism is one of the most challenging threats to international security.
“I am very pleased that all the nations represented here have endorsed the goal that I outlined in Prague one year ago -- to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years’ time. This is an ambitious goal, and we are under no illusions that it will be easy. But the urgency of the threat, and the catastrophic consequences of even a single act of nuclear terrorism, demand an effort that is at once bold and pragmatic. And this is a goal that can be achieved,” he asserted.
The world leaders reaffirmed that it is the fundamental responsibility of nations, consistent with their international obligations, to maintain effective security of the nuclear materials and facilities under their control.