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Editorial Today – Nuclear Security Summit

Nuclear Security Summit

Fourth Nuclear Security Summit was held at Washington on March 31.

What is the Nuclear Security Summit(NSS)?

  • Adoption of measures to prevent terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qaeda from gaining access to nuclear weapons, fissile or radiological material, or from attacking nuclear facilities, through an array of national, bilateral or multilateral measures.
  • However, international cooperation in promoting nuclear security is limited to the civilian sector only. Countries with nuclear weapons are expected to take national measures to secure their military facilities, fissile material and weapons.

History of Nuclear Security Summit:

  • President Barack Obama announced his initiative to convene serial Nuclear Security Summits in his much acclaimed Prague speech in 2009.
  • But his key declaration in the speech was the re-commitment of the US to the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.
  • Nuclear disarmament and nuclear security were integrally linked.
  • Obama also pledged that the US would, in negotiations with Russia, further reduce its nuclear arsenal and would not develop any new nuclear weapons.
  • While the limited nuclear security initiative has gone ahead, the pursuit of nuclear disarmament has been reduced to a mere proforma pledge.
  • The US has not ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

What happened at the summit?

    • US said that they have reduced the number and role of nuclear weapons in their national security strategy
    • US denied developing new nuclear warheads
    • Four detailed action plans relating to key components of nuclear security regime were adopted
    • The plans were aimed at securing all nuclear related material, devices and facilities to prevent access to terrorists
    • Endorsed the central role of the IAEA in promoting nuclear security,
    • The summit adopted four action plans pertaining to the UN, Interpol, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Weapons and the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Nuclear Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.
    • The action plans are non-binding in nature, 
    • Cooperation in methods of vetting and carrying out psychological assessments of personnel working in nuclear facilities and the monitoring of radiation levels and surveillance at borders for preventing trafficking of nuclear-related materials.


  • Nuclear security is also linked to non-proliferation measures; for example, the continued reduction in the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium in civil nuclear facilities to minimise possible leakage for weapon use.
  • This summit brought a timely new focus on the link between nuclear security and cyber security. Interpol’s “Operation Fail Safe” initiative deals with the potentially dangerous nexus between cyber attacks and nuclear risks.

India’s Stand:

  • India will participate in the informal international contact group, which fosters cooperation in countering nuclear smuggling.
  • Its own Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership (GCNEP) will participate in the group on nuclear security training and support centres and centres of excellence.
  • India has also announced that none of its research reactors will be using highly enriched uranium (HEU) henceforth.
  • Modi also used the summit to focus on the threat to nuclear security posed by state sponsorship of terrorist groups and the pursuit of risky escalatory policies such as the deployment of theatre nuclear weapons

Legal and informal instruments of the NSS:

  • The UN Security Council Resolution 1,540 (2004) imposes an obligation on states to secure all fissile materials and nuclear facilities to prevent the risk of a dangerous link between international terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
  • The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and the International Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials and its 2005 amendment are other legal instruments.
  • The summit urges states that have not done so, to sign and ratify these instruments and to ensure their implementation.
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