PM to attend Obama's Summit on Nuclear Security on April 12-13
File photo of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

PM to attend Obama's Summit on Nuclear Security on April 12-13

New Delhi, April 4, 2010

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will attend the Summit on Nuclear Security that United States President Barack Obama will host in Washington on April 12 and 13 at which India will voice its concerns on terrorism and the possible acquisition of nuclear devices and material by terrorist groups.

Mr Obama has invited Dr Singh and 42 other world leaders to attend the summit. India has welcomed the initiative and has contributed substantively to the preparations for the meeting, Foreign Secretary Niruapam Rao told reporters here today.

"You are aware of our concerns on terrorism and the possible acquisition of nuclear devices and material by terrorist groups. Since 2002, we have been piloting a resolution at the UN on preventing terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction," Ms Rao said while briefing journalists on Dr Singh's visit.

She said India was also active in the works of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on setting and enforcing standards on physical protection of nuclear material and facilities as well as on combating illicit trafficking in nuclear material.

India is a party to the key instruments of the global architecture of nuclear security such as the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its 2005 amendment. It is also participating in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism of 2006, she said.

Ms Rao said Dr Singh would reach Washington in the afternoon of April 12. That evening, Mr Obama will host a dinner for the visiting leaders.

"The discussion at the dinner will focus on the threat of nuclear terrorism, the primary reason why the Summit has been convened," she said.

There will be two plenary sessions on April 13, focused respectively on national measures and on international cooperation to enhance nuclear security. There will be a working lunch that will be addressed by the Director General of the IAEA.

The Summit will conclude with the issue of an outcome document on April 13. The outcome has been negotiated over the past six months by "sherpas" from 44 countries and representatives of the EU and the IAEA.

Ms Rao said she had led a team of officials from the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in discussions on the summit outcome at meetings of the sherpas in Tokyo and The Hague. The sherpas will also meet in Washington on the eve of the Summit.

"Nuclear terrorism is a global challenge and we see the Summit and its associated preparatory process as important elements in strengthening international resolve to cooperate on nuclear security and supporting the expanded use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. This will be to India’s benefit, given our concerns on terrorism as well as our interest in the expansion of civil nuclear energy," she said.

To a question if the US had been in touch with India regarding the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), Ms Rao said India's position on this was well-known.

"It has been reiterated on a number of occasions. We are committed to a voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing. That remains our position. That has been very clearly articulated to all our friends and partners," she said.

Asked what India's apprehensions were about Pakistan on the topic of nuclear terrorism, Ms Rao said the Summit would focus on the issue of nuclear terrorism and nuclear security as a whole. "We are not going to get into country-specific situations," she said.

She said that the Summit would focus on the threat of nuclear terrorism rising from clandestine proliferation, from the illicit trafficking of nuclear weapons and diversion of nuclear materials.

Asked about India's contribution to the Summit and its outcome, she said, "You have to wait for the outcome of the Summit."

Ms Rao also made it clear that the Summit was not about the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). She recalled that Mr Obama had, in his speech in Prague in April, 2009, described nuclear terrorism as the most immediate and extreme threat to global security.

"Now what the Summit focuses on, and what our discussions and the outcome document will in all likelihood focus on, is the national responsibility to secure nuclear materials while strengthening the international framework of such cooperation by adhering to multilateral instruments and norms. The multilateral instruments and norms, you are aware of. You have the Global Initiative to combat Nuclear Terrorism. You have UN Security Council Resolution 1540 of 2004, which we can share with you if you need copies of. These are some of the instruments, inter alia, already in place," she added.

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