In the backdrop of the Mumbai attacks having exposed the vulnerability of Indian coastline,Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta on Wednesday said cargo containers could be used to transport nuclear weapons.
“Today,70-75 global cargo is containerised. It is acknowledged that the container is the most likely means for terrorist organisations to illegally transport a nuclear weapon and,hence,there is a serious concern about container security,” he said while inaugurating a seminar organised by the National Maritime Foundation in New Delhi.
He said entry of nuclear weapons through containers was only one aspect of the concern of security agencies and these should be scanned thoroughly to ensure 100 per cent security.
“Nuclear is only one aspect of it. We have to ensure 100 per cent security at ports by scanning them (containers) under X-ray machines. Every country has to accede to it that wherever,whichever port the container leaves from,that country certifies that this container is fully secure,” Mehta said.
He said maritime regions were less regulated as compared to traffic on land.
Advocating for a Container Security Initiative (CSI) of the United States for ensuring fool-proof container security at ports,Mehta said,”CSI should be integral part of a country’s security system. And if it is applicable only to the traffic that is moving towards US,then it is not a complete fool proof system.”
Noting that threats emanating from seas have been responsible for the emergence of new security mechanisms such as the CSI,he said “With the emergence of new threats,there has been a need to revisit maritime security and this has led to emergence of number of security regimes”.
He said India has had its reservations over CSI and it was perceived to be questioning the sovereignty of a country.
Drawing parallels between arrangements such as CSI and security at airports,he said,”Airport security system has been working fairly well over a large number of years. And a similar security system for containers should have universal acceptance.”
Asked to comment on the threat from Taliban,Mehta said,”I think that the type of low end threats such as light intensity operations,light intensity maritime operations and similar things will keep going on in future. We have to be certainly more concerned with these kinds of threats.”
On whether the Navy supported the Sethusamudram project,he said “It is a national project. There is no question of not supporting it. I don’t deal with it directly but there is no question of saying that it is not a good project because it has certain relevance of passing smaller traffic that goes from one coast to other and you will have different implications on the development of ports there.”