NEW DELHI: Underlining its "impeccable record" in nuclear security, India Tuesday asserted that it keeps "strictest control" over its atomic materials, as the curtains came down on a meeting of officials from 49 countries who had gathered here to firm up the agenda for the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea.
"All nuclear matters are subject to strict oversight. We have an impeccable record. The government continue to maintain the strictest control over nuclear materials," Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai told reporters here.
He was responding to a question on a new ranking of nations on the basis of their nuclear safety issued by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a US think tank that specialises in issues relating to nuclear proliferation. The report ranks India only 28th in a list of 32 countries -- just above Pakistan, North Korea, Vietnam and Iran.
Mathai rejected the NTI report, saying it was "based on faulty methodology, specially with regard to India".
"It seeks to equate transparency with security. It does not take into account the nature of our three-stage nuclear programme," he said.
India is a party to all major international instruments in the field of nuclear security. This includes the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, stressed Mathai.
Mathai was speaking after the two-day preparatory meeting of the 'sherpas' or personal representatives of heads of government of 49 countries and officials from four multilateral organisations. The meeting firmed up the agenda for the Nuclear Security Summit Seoul will host March 26-27. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will travel to Seoul to participate in the summit.
The Seoul summit will also give consideration to strengthening the synergy between nuclear safety and nuclear security, an issue which has become topical after the Fukushima accident of March 2011," said Mathai.
"We feel that this issue merits summit-level consideration to enhance public confidence that measures are being taken to ensure that nuclear energy, which is an essential energy source used in a safe and secure manner," said Mathai amid protests over safety of India's nuclear facilities in Tamil Nadu, where Russia is helping build two atomic reactors at Kudankulam.
Mathai stressed that the discussions on the draft communique that will be issued at the end of the Seoul summit were "productive and have reached an advance stage of consideration".
Officials focused on the threat posed by nuclear terrorism and the measures required to address the global challenge of preventing terrorists and other non-state actors from gaining access to sensitive nuclear materials, technology and information.
Mathai stressed that there was "considerable emphasis" at the meeting on the leading role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the international nuclear security framework and the need to strengthen multilateral instruments that address nuclear security.
The sherpas also discussed measures to secure the management of highly enriched uranium, steps to ensure radiological security, promoting transport security and combating illicit trafficking, security of sensitive information and increasing international cooperation and assistance.