WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned global leaders from over 50 nations gathered in Washington to discuss nuclear terrorism that state actors working with nuclear traffickers and terrorists present the greatest risk.
“Terrorism is globally networked. But, we still act only nationally to counter this threat,” he said at a working dinner hosted by President Barack Obama on Thursday night to kick off the two-day Nuclear Security Summit.
US President Obama, who is hosting his fourth and last such summit to discuss how to prevent terrorists and other non-state actors from gaining access to nuclear materials, was flanked by Prime Minister Modi on the right and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the left.
Prime Minister Modi, who has come to the summit meeting in the shadow of Brussels and Lahore terror attacks, from the Belgian capital said, “Brussels shows us how real and immediate is the threat to nuclear security from terrorism.
“Terror has evolved. Terrorists are using 21st century technology. But our responses are rooted in the past,” he said asking the leaders to focus on three contemporary features of terrorism.
“First, today’s terrorism uses extreme violence as theatre. Second, we are no longer looking for a man in a cave, but we are hunting for a terrorist in a city with a computer or a smart phone.
“And third, State actors working with nuclear traffickers and terrorists present the greatest risk.”
In what was seen as an unmistakable reference to Pakistan, PM Modi also gave a call to drop the notion that terrorism is someone else’s problem and that “his” terrorist is not “my” terrorist.
“Nuclear security must remain an abiding national priority,” Modi told the world leaders. “All states must completely abide by their international obligations.”
“Without prevention and prosecution of acts of terrorism there is no deterrence against nuclear terrorism,” he said.
“But the reach and supply chains of terrorism are global, genuine cooperation between nation states is not,” lamented Modi.
India has long asked Islamabad to take action against Pakistan-based terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba(LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), responsible for the Mumbai and Pathankot terror attacks. But the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks remain unpunished.
On the eve of the summit, India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval discussed counterterrorism cooperation, including against LeT and JeM, with his US counterpart Susan E Rice at the White House.
In a meeting with Mr Doval, Secretary of State John Kerry praising “India’s record of being a leader, of being responsible,” told him “India has a very important role to play with respect to responsible stewardship of nuclear weapons and nuclear materials”.
“And it is particularly important right now at a time when we see in the region some choices being made that may accelerate possible arms construction, which we have serious questions about,” he had said in another reference to Pakistan.
The US has time and again expressed concern at Pakistan’s deployment of weapon-grade nuclear weapons.
“Our concerns regarding the continuing deployment of battlefield nuclear weapons by Pakistan relate to a reality of the situation,” Rose Gottemoeller, under secretary of state for arms control and international security, told reporters on the eve of the summit.
“When battlefield nuclear weapons are deployed forward, they can represent an enhanced nuclear security threat,” she said.
However, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhary on Thursday claimed that its “modest” nuclear programme was “essentially for its defence and not to threaten anyone”.
“Pakistan’s nuclear installations are not only secure but the world also acknowledges that they are,” he told reporters at the Pakistan embassy here. “India, on the other hand, has an ambitious nuclear programme.”