Weapons of Mass Destruction
In the Lok Sabha, the Weapons of Mass Destruction and Their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Amendment Bill, 2022, was unanimously passed.
The Bill seeks to amend The Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act, 2005, to provide against the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems in line with India’s international obligations.
What was the original legislation?
The Weapons of Mass Destruction and Their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Actions) Act, 2005 was introduced in India in 2005 with the goal of “prohibiting unlawful activities in regard to weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.”
This Act said India is “committed to the objective of global nuclear disarmament” and is “exercising controls over the export of chemicals, organisms, materials, equipment, and technologies in relation to weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems”.
Why there is a need to amend the “The Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act, 2005”
- In line with India’s international duties, the legislation was introduced to alter the 2005 Act to prohibit the financing of the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. It empowers the government to freeze and take the assets of those who engage in such behavior. According to the modifications, the Centre can take action to execute the law through whatever power it has assigned.
- The need to amend the Act arose, according to Bill’s Statement of Objects and Reasons, because “recently, regulations relating to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems by international organizations have expanded,” and “the United Nations Security Council’s targeted financial sanctions and the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force have mandated against the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as a priority.”
What are the objectives of the bill?
- The bill prohibits anyone from funding any illegal activity involving weapons of mass destruction or their delivery systems.
- It grants the central government extra powers: the central government can freeze, seize, or attach people’s finances, financial assets, or economic resources to prohibit them from sponsoring such actions.
- It may also restrict individuals from making financial or related services available for the advantage of others in connection with any prohibited action.
What are Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)?
A weapon of mass destruction (WMD) is a nuclear, radiological, chemical, biological, or any other weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to numerous individuals or cause great damage to artificial structures (e.g., buildings), natural structures (e.g., mountains), or the biosphere.
In 1977, the United Nations affirmed the definition of Weapons of Mass Destruction as “[…] atomic explosive weapons, radioactive material weapons, lethal chemical and biological weapons, and any weapons developed in the future which might have characteristics comparable in destructive effect to those of the atomic bomb or other weapons mentioned above.”
What are the international rules on WMDs?
- The Geneva Protocol, 1925, banned the use of chemical and biological weapons; the Biological Weapons Convention, 1972, and Chemical Weapons Convention, 1992, put comprehensive bans on biological and chemical weapons respectively.
- Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, 1968
- Chemical Weapons Convention, 1993
- Biological Weapons Convention, 1972
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