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June 22, 2021

India’s nuclear security

 
June 22, 2021

That nuclear security is being breached in India should be a cause of concern for the international community. There have recently been multiple incidents of illegal sale of weapon-grade uranium in India. Such lax control of nuclear wherewithal is a sign of a regulatory framework that is not strict and vigilant. Because of the sensitivity of the matter and the possible devastation that it may cause, poor implementation of control mechanisms should not be tolerated. Its enforcement requires persistent vigilance on the part of agencies concerned with nuclear production and uranium use. There is a strong possibility that there is a black market that peddles or attempts to peddle nuclear material in India. This is not about accusations and counteraccusation between India and Pakistan. Which is why it is disappointing that rather than responding to these concerns, the Modi administration indulges in rhetoric and tries to camouflage and downplay the concerns of its neighbours who may find themselves in nuclear danger if any more serious breaches take place.

What the nuclear control bodies of the world need now is a thorough investigation into how such nuclear control is absent in India and how this lack of attention may be rectified in the future. The investigation has to be credible and transparent so that the Modi administration does not have an excuse to discount it. India must be made to comply with all international obligations that are clearly laid out and which no country should be able to take lightly or flout at will. Be it India or any other country for that matter, the security of nuclear material is of paramount importance because it threatens not thousands but millions of lives. There should be clear enunciation of commitment from world powers that all possible measures be taken to ensure nuclear security. A lax regime of control for nuclear material – no matter how big or small in quantity – imperils regional peace and security.

The government of Pakistan has repeatedly reminded the world about India’s nuclear ambitions and now these breaches have further highlighted the validity of Pakistan’s concerns. All relevant protocols should be put in place before any serious ramification of nuclear laxity becomes a reality. This is not just a matter of concern for India's neighbours and world powers; it should be taken seriously by the UN and other international organizations. The measures taken by India to safeguard nuclear material must be made public so that its neighbours can rest assured about the eradication of any possibility of breach again.