New Delhi: Despite lurking danger of nuclear terrorism as over 200 kilograms of radioactive material has been stolen during the past two decades in India, the country lacks independent nuclear regulatory body.
According to a report released by Kashmir Media Service, a half-hearted attempt was made in September 2011, when the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority (NSRA) Bill that was tabled in the Indian Parliament to allay the fear of the international community, in this regard.
However, with the country going into general elections, that bill lapsed and, since then no such bill was reintroduced in the Indian Parliament. The BJP government has not shown much inclination in attending to the NSRA Bill, the report added.
That is unfortunate, the report lamented, the BJP government’s indifference to the most critical safety measure. The setting up of a regulatory body would demonstrate certainly improve the formulation of India’s nuclear security. In the absence a proper security framework, India would continue to pose a nuclear theft for the global community.
This attitude also dents India’s case for permanent membership to the the UN Security Council as well as Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), which oversees the safety and security measures in the country, is not independent in its position and function. It is a subset of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), which is responsible for nuclear operations in the country.
Therefore, it is highly unlikely that AERB would have the power to stop any operations undertaken by DAE even if it is found to not be in line with prescribed international standards. Besides the IAEA, voices within India have raised serious concerns over the country’s fast-expanding nuclear program on the one hand, and absence of stringent safety and security measures on the other.
For example, India’s Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) warned about the gaps in nuclear security and the relationship between the AERB and DAE.
Nuclear threats and the potential consequences of nuclear terrorism can transcend international borders; therefore, there are justified concerns from the international community, especially neighboring states. Pakistan has pointed to multiple security lapses in India’s nuclear infrastructure because, in case of any incident of nuclear terrorism, the transboundary spread of radioactivity might affect the entire neighborhood directly.