India kept away from Biden lunch to court non-aligned (Lead)

April 14th, 2010 - 12:29 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 13 (IANS) India, a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), was not invited to a luncheon meeting hosted by US Vice President Joe Biden to court the group on the issue of nuclear security.

India was left out of lunch hosted Monday by Biden at his official residence on the margins of the Nuclear Security Summit as only signatories to the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) were invited, a White House official explained.

Biden’s office had said the meeting would build on the summit’s objectives “to better understand the threat posed by nuclear terrorism, to agree to collective action to secure nuclear material and to prevent nuclear smuggling and terrorism.”

“The goals of the Non-Aligned Movement and my country on the important issues of nuclear security, non-proliferation as well as well other issues have never been closer,” Biden told the invited group.

“We know that some of the (NAM) countries and elsewhere believe that we have not been moving fast enough and that we could do more,” he said.

“But one thing that we all agree on is that adding more nuclear weapons or more nuclear weapons states is the exact wrong approach,” he said.

“Controlling all the nuclear materials that can produce a bomb is in the interest of everyone,” Biden said in support of Obama’s goal of securing loose nuclear material in weapons, atomic reactors and stockpiles within four years.

Biden said there are hundreds of tons of nuclear material scattered over 40 countries, including the US and many of the countries represented at the gathering.

“And just 50 pounds of high-purity uranium smaller than a soccer ball could destroy the downtown of all our capital cities and kill tens if not hundreds of thousands of individuals. So it’s very much in our interest to gain control,” he said.

Biden said that more than half of the world’s dangerous nuclear materials were owned by industry, not governments. “And we will work with them, as we will work with you, to address our common concerns.”

Officials from Algeria, Chile, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam attended Biden’s lunch.

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