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Remarks by MEA Official Spokesperson on Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Bill 2005

New Delhi
May 13, 2005

Official Spokesperson: Good evening. As you know the Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Bill 2005 has now been passed in both Houses of Parliament. I thought this would be a matter of interest to journalists covering MEA beat.

The statement made by External Affairs Minister in the Rajya Sabha is available. I will just add a few points which focus on the new legislation.

It is an important legislation in the light of India’s emergence as a nuclear weapons state. It provides for an integrated and overarching legislation on prohibiting unlawful activities in relation to WMD and their deliver systems and related materials, equipment and technologies. We do have earlier several legislations which deal with and have relevance to WMD. For instance, there is the Atomic Energy Act of 1962, there is the Chemical Weapons Convention Act of 2000, there is the Environment Protection Act, there is Explosive Substances Act 1908 and so on. But, the objective of introducing this legislation was to provide an integrated and overarching legislation which provides for prohibiting a range of unlawful activities in relation to WMD and their delivery system and WMD usable goods and technologies.

This does not indicate any change in our nuclear policy. It does not in manner constrain any nuclear programmes, civilian or strategic. India is determined to utilize advance technologies for its security, for the welfare of its people and for meeting the nation’s developmental requirements.

In terms of how this legislation fits into the requirements of the UN, I may add that these updated controls over the export of WMD usable goods and technologies and prohibitions related to non-state actors will fulfill our mandatory obligations under the UN Security Council Resolution 1540 which was adopted on April 28, 2004. The legislation and its passage underlines India’s role as a responsible nuclear power and reflects the inherent sense of national responsibility that arises from the possession of sensitive-to-use technologies. Naturally, it also underlines our abiding interest in contributing to global peace and security.

Question: Do you think this legislation makes it easier for India to fulfill its civilian nuclear energy requirements from abroad?
Answer: The fact that India has taken all the steps necessary to show that India is a responsible nuclear state is naturally a major statement to the world.

Question: Is it a coincidence that this Bill has been passed when the review of NPT is going on?
Answer: I think that is a coincidence. If you would like to see a linkage, I frankly do not see a linkage at all. India is not part of the NPT process but that has never stopped India taking steps against proliferation and showing its commitment to peace and security.