The best guarantee for nuclear safety is a world free of nuclear weapons, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday, calling for a multilateral framework for achieving this. He also announced a contribution of $1 million to the IAEA's Nuclear Security Fund for 2012-13.
"The best guarantee for nuclear security is a world free from nuclear weapons," Manmohan Singh said while addressing the plenary of the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul.
"Attaining the goal of a nuclear weapon-free world will require commitments embedded in an agreed multilateral framework involving all states possessing nuclear weapons. This should include measures to reduce nuclear dangers by reducing the salience of nuclear weapons in security doctrines and by increasing universal restraints on the first use of nuclear weapons," Manmohan Singh added.
He noted in this context that former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had put forward an action plan for global nuclear disarmament in a time-bound framework almost 25 years ago and that this "remains the most comprehensive and elaborate proposal to achieve this objective".
Pointing to India's track record in guarding sensitive technologies, Manmohan Singh described as "the next logical step" the country's membership of nuclear clubs like the NSG and MTCR.
"India has never been a source of proliferation of sensitive technologies and we are determined to further strengthen our export control systems to keep them on par with the highest international standards. We have already adhered to the guidelines of the NSG and MTCR. As a like-minded country with the ability and willingness to promote global non-proliferation objectives, we believe that the next logical step is India's membership of the four export control regimes," he said. (The other two are the Australia Group and the Wassennar Arrangement.)
Manmohan Singh also said India supported the early commencement of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.
While nuclear security was primarily a national responsibility, "there are benefits to be gained by supplementing responsible national actions through sustained and effective international cooperation," the prime minister said, adding: "The IAEA has a central role in strengthening the international global nuclear security architecture. I am happy to announce that India will contribute 1 million US dollars to the IAEA's Nuclear Security Fund for the years 2012-13.
India will also participate in the Agency's 2013 international coordinating conference of various nuclear security activities, including the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and the Global Partnership.
According to Manmohan Singh, nuclear terrorism will remain a potent threat as long as there are terrorists seeking to gain access to nuclear material and technologies for malicious purposes. "India is acutely conscious of this threat. Our resolution at the General Assembly on measures to deny terrorists access to weapons of mass destruction has been adopted by consensus since 2002."
Holding that India "fully shares" global concerns on nuclear terrorism and clandestine proliferation, "which continue to pose serious threats to international security" the prime minister added: "At the same time, given India's growing energy demands, we see nuclear energy as an essential component of our energy mix."
With India in the process of expanding its nuclear energy generation to 62,000 MW by 2032, Manmohan Singh said this was being done by "taking forward our three-stage nuclear programme based on a closed fuel cycle, with new safety features and proliferation-resistant technologies".
"We are also determined that our expanded nuclear power programme will follow the highest standards of nuclear safety and security, whose synergy is essential to restore public faith in nuclear energy, especially after the tragic events at Fukushima."
"Nuclear safety evaluations are being put in the public domain to enhance transparency and boost public confidence. We are also in the process of setting up a statutory, independent and autonomous Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority. We are strengthening emergency preparedness and response to nuclear accidents," Manmohan Singh added.
"Strengthening nuclear security, therefore, assists India's objective of promoting a safe and secure expansion of civil nuclear energy. We must continue to harness the numerous developmental benefits that nuclear science and technology offer, especially for developing countries."