Nuclear proliferation and terrorism serious challenges say Antony, Pranab Mukherjee

A K Antony and Pranab MukherjeeNew Delhi, Feb 5 : Union External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister A K Antony on Tuesday said that nuclear proliferation continues to be a serious challenge for mankind.

They were speaking at the three-day 10th Asia Security conference here.

In his keynote address Pranab Mukherjee said that threat of terrorist groups and non-state actors playing their hands on the nuclear material including assembling of nuclear weapons is causing great concern.

"A principle cause of concern in the recent years has been threat of nuclear proliferation. This is not limited only to new states acquiring the nuclear weapons capability. It also extends to the very real threat of terrorist groups, non-state actors playing their hands on their nuclear materials and even fully assembles nuclear weapons. These two security challenges are interlinked and they are products of the demand-supply dynamics. On the supply side of the proliferation problem is a product of two factors," he said.

Pranab Mukherjee said that states were unable to sufficiently safeguard their nuclear materials, technology and facilities against attempts to procure weapons of mass destruction and relevant items."

"Another factor was deliberate and careless proliferation by states including state's failure to exercise adequate control over personnel engaged in the nuclear programs," he added.

In his speech, Antony, said that terrorism, nuclear proliferation and sectarian conflicts were some of issues that required our urgent and focused attention.

Antony said with increasing globalisation, the chances of the breakout of a conventional war are remote.

"The world today realises that no nation can consider itself to be immune from terrorism. The lessons learnt elsewhere can prove to be useful in devising our policies. Similarly, other nations too can benefit from our experiences. Nations must devise ways and means to cooperate to effectively counter terrorism," he added.

Antony further said that the emergence of non-state players is another grave challenge confronting all nations.

"These non-state players do not recognise any territorial boundaries. They utilise latest global communication and transport networks and rely on garnering international support. Their common objective is to disturb existing state apparatus, destabilise neighbouring states and create new states based on ethno-cultural identity. Most of these non-state players are not fighting for a national identity, or territory and have abstract notions of carving out a separate and unique identity of their own based on ethnicity, religious and tribal basis," he said.

The conference will also consider another important issue that has a direct bearing on Asian Security in the 21st century - the generic issue of fragile states and nation building, with Afghanistan as a live case.

Experts are also expected to deliberate on the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan during the conference.

Former Dutch Prime Minister, Rudd Lubbers will be the guest speaker at the closing session of the conference.

The conference has been organised by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), India's premier think tank. (ANI)