Terrorism’s reach is global, cooperation among nations isn’t: Modi

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Apr 02, 2016 00:55 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends a plenary session during the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit at the Washington Convention Center, in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made a strong plea for “genuine cooperation” among nations to counter terrorism, saying last month’s bombings in Brussels reflected the “real and immediate” threat to global nuclear security.

At a dinner hosted for visiting world leaders by President Barack Obama on Thursday, Modi argued strongly for new thinking on combating terrorism.

“Brussels shows us how real and immediate is the threat to nuclear security from terrorism,” he said, according to tweets from the external affairs ministry spokesperson.

The two brothers involved in the March 22 bombings in Brussels that killed more than 30 people had mounted surveillance on a top scientist working at a Belgian nuclear power plant.

A video of the surveillance found at the brothers’ apartment raised fears the Islamic State is planning to attack a nuclear facility, which could cause devastation of untold proportions.

Modi said there was also a need to upgrade the world’s basic response to terrorism.

While “the reach and supply chains” of terrorism are global, “genuine cooperation between nations is not”, he said.

“Drop the notion that terrorism is someone else’s problem and that ‘his’ terrorist is not ‘my’ terrorist,” said Modi, seated on Obama’s right while Chinese President Xi Jinping sat to the left of his US counterpart.

“Terror has evolved… Terrorists are using 21st century technology. But our responses are rooted in the past.” Terrorism is globally networked but “we still act only nationally to counter this threat”, he added.

The dinner attended by leaders of delegations from more than 50 countries launched the fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit, with three plenary sessions slated for Friday.

The focus, Modi said, should be on three features of contemporary terrorism. First, “today’s terrorism uses extreme violence as theatre”, a reference perhaps to the IS’ tendency to stage killings and attacks in a manner that attracts global attention.

Second, he said, “we are no longer looking for a man in a cave (a reference perhaps to Osama bin Laden), but we are hunting for a terrorist in a city with a computer or a smartphone”.

And third, “state actors working with nuclear traffickers and terrorists present the greatest risk”, which was an unmistakably clear reference to Pakistan without naming it.

Even as the leaders gathered for the nuclear summit, the US and Saudi Arabia announced joint sanctions against four individuals and two organisations accused of funding and backing the Lashkar-e-Taiba, al Qaeda and the Taliban. The move came two days ahead of Modi’s visit to the kingdom.

At the Nuclear Security Summit, Modi will share India’s National Progress Report, detailing steps taken to bolster nuclear security.

The opening plenary will be followed by a discussion about the activities of global institutions such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, UN, Interpol, Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and G8 Global Partnership.

Five action plans are expected from this session. “These action plans contain guidance for work in the post-2016 scenario on nuclear security within all these institutions in accordance with their respective mandates and their respective procedures,” an external affairs ministry official told reporters in Delhi.

At the third and final session on “Scenario-Based Policy Discussion and Closing Remarks”, participants will discuss different situations arising out of potential nuclear terrorism.

US officials have also spoken of a “special session” to discuss the threat posed by the IS.

The participants will issue a joint communique at the end of the summit, and 17 other joint statements or “gift baskets” or collective commitments.

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