India to host meet on combating nuclear terrorism

New Delhi, Feb 4 (IANS) In what can be a big boost to India’s chances of becoming a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in the face of opposition from China, New Delhi is going to host the Implementation and Assessment Group Meeting of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) from February 8 to 10, the External Affairs Ministry said on Saturday.

The meeting is in consonance with what Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced at the Nuclear Security Summit held in Washington in April last year.

“Pursuant to the announcement made by Prime Minister at the Nuclear Security Summit held in 2016, Ministry of External Affairs in coordination with the Department of Atomic Energy is hosting the Implementation and Assessment Group Meeting of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism on February8-10, 2017, at the Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra, New Delhi,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

“Approximately 150 delegates from various GICNT partner countries and international organisations will be participating in this event.

“This event highlights India’s commitment to global nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It is a part of our overall engagement with the international community on nuclear security issues,” it added.

China opposed India’s membership in the NSG plenary in Seoul in June last year on the ground that for a country to become a member of the 48-nation bloc, it has to be a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Since then the two Asian giants have held two rounds of talks on the issue in Beijing and New Delhi.

Saturday’s statement by the External Affairs Ministry said that India hosting this meeting would highlight the continued priority it “attached to nuclear security, our efforts to further strengthen the institutional frameworks, capacity building and enhance international cooperationa.

“The possible use of weapons of mass destruction and related material by terrorists is no longer a theoretical concern,” it said.

“A breach of nuclear security may lead to unimaginable consequences. Such an event would have a global impact. It is imperative to strengthen international efforts to combat such threats. This meeting is therefore timely and important and would further enhance our vigil.”

According to the statement, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar will inaugurate the meeting. The meeting will conclude with an address by R.B. Grover, Member, Atomic Energy Commission of India.

GICNT was launched in 2006 jointly by Russian and the US. In the past 10 years, it has grown to include 86 partner nations and five official observer organisations and has held several multilateral activities in support of its Statement of Principles.

It comprises four working groups – Implementation and Assessment Group, Nuclear Detection Working Group, Nuclear Forensics Working Group and Response and Mitigation Working Group.

India has been an active participant at GICNT events.