Centers of Nuclear Excellence and Nuclear Security

In affirmation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, India recognizes that the proliferation of nuclear, biological, chemical and related materials constitutes a threat to international stability and security. The threat of illicit trafficking in nuclear weapons and their related materials adds a new facet to the risks of proliferation posing a threat to international peace and security. Given its geographical location, India is gravely concerned by the dangers of unlawful smuggling in nuclear and radiological weapons and their related materials including means of delivery. As part of its obligations to prevent proliferation of sensitive fissile materials and maintenance of regional and global stability, India recognizes the importance and urgency of taking appropriate and effective actions against any threat to international peace and security through the proliferation of sensitive weapons and their related materials.

In order to strengthen concerted response to the serious challenge of proliferation of nuclear and other sensitive weapons and materials, the nuclear industry and research centres in India have sought to adopt security practices. The objective is to generate a strong culture of nuclear security in the various departments embedded within India’s nuclear establishment. To internalize and further develop these security practices related to nuclear security, nuclear safety and nuclear non-proliferation it is essential that collaborative research and detailed studies be undertaken from time to time. In October 2004, the Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India, and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) organised a regional training course on ‘Physical Protection of Nuclear Installations’. Of the 25 participants in the course –13 were foreign participants from Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. The course covered wide-ranging topics under nuclear security like physical protection concern, design basis threat, security and control of radioactive materials, safety- security interface, nuclear material control and security, security culture, etc.

India’s consistent efforts towards enhancing nuclear security was taken a step further with the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s announcement of the establishment of the Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership – a centre of excellence on nuclear security – at the first nuclear security summit held in Washington DC in 2010. The primary mission of the GCNEP is to

  • “conduct research, design and development of nuclear systems that are intrinsically safe, secure, proliferation resistant and sustainable” with the aim of strengthening nuclear security in the future
  • “to organize training, seminars, lectures and workshops” on critical issues by Indian and international experts and build a group of trained human resource

The GCNEP is visualized to be a state of the art facility premised upon international participation from the IAEA and other interested foreign partners. The GCNEP related Memorandum of Understanding and other cooperation arrangements have been signed with France, Russia, U.S. and the IAEA. The Centre will consist of five Schools including a state of the art training facilities for Indian and international participants and research by Indian and visiting international scientists.

India has expressed interest in developing and conducting courses in association with interested countries and the IAEA. In November 2011, the GCNEP organized an “off-campus” training course on physical protection of nuclear materials for 25 participants, including 17 foreign nationals. India has already conducted six courses on topics related to physical protection of nuclear material and facilities, prevention and response to radiological threats, nuclear material accounting, computer security controls, etc. The Centre plans to hold four additional courses in 2014.These courses are to deal with critical issues like prevention, preparedness and responses involving malicious acts with radioactive materials, medical management, safeguard practices etc. Further, as a partner to the IAEA-US Regional Radiological Security Partnership (RRSP), India has organized several international training courses in India in collaboration with the IAEA. India’s participation was welcomed in the trilateral meeting held in New Delhi in February 2005 and the three sides held consultations to plan out the modalities of this cooperation. Through the IAEA-US conducted RRSP, India extended help and cooperation for the “search and recovery of orphan radioactive sources in countries which were unable to effectively deal with them and had sought such assistance.” India is also on record for conducting nine regional training seminars on nuclear security in cooperation with the IAEA. There are expectations that the conclusion of Practical Arrangements between GCNEP and the IAEA would further strengthen India’s collaboration with the IAEA in the future.  India has closely cooperated with IAEA’s Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT). The PACT facilitated the inking of tripartite agreements between India and the IAEA, Sri Lanka and Namibia to provide New Delhi’s indigenously developed Cobalt teletherapy machine – Bhabhatron II – for purposes of inexpensive cancer treatment. A similar machine was offered by India to Vietnam in 2008.

India recognizes the critical importance of strengthening nuclear safety and security in Asia and worldwide. India’s consistent efforts towards fostering international cooperation in training, research and development are aimed at strengthen nuclear security in Asia. The series of measures undertaken by India are expected to enhance coordination of efforts at the national, sub-regional, regional and international levels. Hopefully this can strengthen a global response to the serious challenge of proliferation of nuclear weapons and related materials threating international security.


Image: Joe Klamar-AFP, Getty

Posted in , Cooperation, IAEA, India, Nuclear, Nuclear Safety

Reshmi Kazi

Reshmi Kazi

Dr Reshmi Kazi is Associate Fellow in the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, specializing on nuclear testing, nuclear terrorism and radiological terrorism in India, nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament issues.. Her doctoral thesis is on ‘Evolution of India’s Nuclear Doctrine: A Study of Political, Economic and Technological Dimensions.’ Presently she is finishing her monograph Nuclear Terrorism: The Grand New Terror of the 21st Century.

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2 thoughts on “Centers of Nuclear Excellence and Nuclear Security

  1. Reshmi,
    Great post.
    What do you think of the possibility of collaborative programs between the Indian and Pakistani Centres of Excellence?

  2. Thank you, Michael. Collaborative programs between the Indian and Pakistani Centres of Excellence would definitely reinvigorate nuclear security not only in South Asia but possibly at the global level too.
    As I argued it can strengthen global response against proliferation of sensitive nuclear materials. In that light, this step will be a welcome development.

    Al Qeada has renewed calls to its sympathizers in Kashmir to wage violence in the name of “jihad” against India. Pakistan is frequently being targetted by terrorists like TTP particularly at its critical installations. There is common cause for both the nuclear capable countries to join their nuclear expertise and excellence in combating these terrorists.

    However, how far the political establishment of both the countries and the Pakistan military will be supportive of this step is something that might be contingent upon the bilateral ties between the two neighbours.

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