The world has already tasted the vast destruction caused by two atom bombs that were dropped by America on the two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in 1945. Thousands of innocent people lost their lives, several thousands were seriously wounded. The diseases and deformities that developed in human beings who were directly or indirectly affected by the radiation lasted several decades after the dastardly act. Fortunately for humanity, no such ignominy has befallen ever since. But it does not mean that the danger of a nuclear warhead being used by some rogue state is not there. Today, so many countries possess nuclear weapons and the day when a war between countries goes nuclear, the results will be catastrophic.
It is therefore extremely necessary that steps are taken at international level to maintain nuclear safety and security. The Group of 8 (G8) have established a Nuclear Safety and Security Group (NSSG) which will provide technically informed, strategic policy advice on issues that could impact safety and security in peaceful uses of nuclear energy and other issues related thereto. The G8 nations are committed to the nuclear safety first principle, to recognize, internationally accepted norms and best practices in nuclear safety and security. They recognize the international conventions and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) standards from a good basis for the continuous improvement of national nuclear regulatory systems and nuclear safety as necessary.
Nuclear safety and security involves five major issues: saving the world from nuclear weapons; stopping nuclear proliferation; stopping the terrorist groups from acquiring a nuclear warhead; preventing nuclear explosions in reactors while harnessing nuclear technology for peaceful uses; and properly disposing nuclear waste so that it does not create harmful effects.
Saving the world from the scourge of nuclear war is a herculean task. The United Nations supported by the veto wielding countries-America, France, UK, China and Russia have so far been able to stop the wars that have been fought after the Second World War turning nuclear. The disturbing factor has been that during the last sixty years or so several countries have developed or acquired nuclear weapons. Even small countries like Pakistan and North Korea have atom bombs. The world body has not been able to stop these nations from acquiring dangerous nuclear weapons.
This is a highly dangerous development. However, the UN, the major countries, the IAEA which is the international watchdog against nuclear arms race, is making serious efforts to stop the nations from developing nuclear weapons. During 2007, America took an active role in stopping Iran and North Korea from setting up nuclear reactors which, it was apprehended, were being set up to make atom bombs. The US and other major countries threatened to refer these countries to the UN for imposing economic sanctions. India also supported the US move.
Nuclear proliferation is a term used to denote the act of transferring/providing nuclear technology and fuel to other countries-an act which is banned by the UN. This curb is based on the premise that if nuclear technology is transferred freely from one country to the other, a situation will arrive when all the nations of the world will have nuclear weapons-which will prove highly dangerous for the world peace. Apart from being used in war, the nuclear technology and fuel if not handled properly can lead to dangerous accidents and explosions. A big explosion took place in the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in Ukraine. It caused great damage not only to the reactor and the surrounding area, but its nuclear ash which spread over miles by strong wind caused an extensive damage to crops, causing serious diseases among the people.
Several people died due to those diseases. In the reactor itself there were many casualties. This explosion shook the world and also brought the dangers of nuclear explosion before the world. It is therefore necessary to take measures to ensure that such explosions do not reoccur. The G8 in one of its summits undertook to initiate joint efforts and help Ukraine convert the damaged reactor unit site into safe conditions and to make available safe and reliable facilities at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Project (NPP) site necessary for a safe decommissioning of the shut down reactor units. It also urged the Ukraine Government to take necessary steps to assist in the timely and efficient implementation of the programmes and projects within agreed frameworks.
The major nations of the world are committed to enhance controls on radioactive sources. As a result of their efforts about 90 countries have committed to implement the IAEA code of conduct on safety and security of radioactive sources.
The world is committed to develop global nuclear safety and security partnerships. The major nations are supporting enhancement of the evolving web-based systems and networks for information exchange and cooperation in nuclear safety matters, like implementation of nuclear conventions, cooperation on safety standards, and the harmonization of safety approaches, exchange of operational experience and resolution of generic nuclear safety issues. This evolving global nuclear safety network is based on considerable work of international organisations, particularly the IAEA. It will contribute to maintain competence and to continuously develop effective protection against nuclear hazards.
The nuclear safety and security measures are extremely important for India. This is because many reactors will be set up in India after the Indo-US Nuclear Deal. The country will be provided technology from the US and the fuel from some of the countries of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Nuclear power will be harnessed and used for peaceful purposes, i.e. to generate electricity.
We need to handle the nuclear fuel with great care and expertise and run the reactors keeping in view the safety and security norms. Besides, the nuclear waste and the used nuclear fuel also need special technology to dispose. It is either to be disposed below the sea water, i.e. on the sea bed or inside another safe place like a mountain just as countries like France, America and others are doing. Besides these reactors, India also has nuclear weapons and nuclear technology to make atomic bomb. We need to follow safety an security norms in those reactors, as well.
The threat of terrorism has assumed alarming proportions all over the world. The biggest worry is that the terrorist groups are trying their best to somehow get some nuclear warhead. If they do so, they will be able to dictate terms on the civilised society. They may also kill large number of innocent people. It is therefore necessary to do everything to save the world from such unfortunate happening. ]
America, which is the main target of the terrorist groups like Al-Qaida and Lashkar-e-Taiba, is garnering support of other major countries of the world including India to check the terrorists from snatching nuclear warheads from weak States like Pakistan, Iran, etc. It has to be a concerted effort of all the countries in the world to thwart the evil designs of the terrorists. Nuclear safety and security is the most important task before international community. It has rightly been said that the future of mankind depends on how we handle nuclear energy.