Parliament amended ‘The Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act, 2005 (WMD Act, 2005) to fulfil international obligations relating to financing of weapons of mass destruction. The amendment prohibits financing of any prohibited activity under the WMD Act, 2005 and empowers taking financial and other measures to prevent such financing related to WMDs and their delivery systems.
About Weapons of Mass Destruction & Their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act, 2005
Need for the Act:
- Prohibits unlawful activities related to weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.
- India is committed not to transfer nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or assist , encourage or induce any other country to manufacture nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
- Provides legal framework to the objective of global nuclear disarmament,
- India is a member of Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). Thus, this act empowers India to exercise controls over export of chemicals, organisms, materials, equipment and technologies related to weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.
- The Act was passed to meet an international obligation enforced by the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540 of 2004.
UN Security Council Resolution 1540
- UN Security Council Resolution 1540 address the growing threat of non-state actors gaining access to WMD material, equipment or technology to undertake acts of terrorism.
- It established binding obligations on all UN member states under Chapter VII of UN Charter.
- Nations were mandated to take and enforce effective measures against proliferation of WMD, their means of delivery and related materials to non-state actors.
- UNSCR 1540 enforced three primary obligations upon countries:
(i) To not provide any form of support to non-state actors seeking to acquire WMD, related materials or their means of delivery.
(ii) To adopt and enforce laws criminalising the possession and acquisition of such items by non-state actors.
(iii) To adopt and enforce domestic controls over relevant materials, in order to prevent their proliferation.
- UNSCR 1540 undergoes periodic reviews to determine the success of its implementation and identify gaps in enforcement.
Salient Features of the Weapons of Mass Destruction & Their Delivery System (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act, 2005:
- Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD): WMDs under the Act includes any biological, chemical or nuclear weapons.
- Extent: Extends to whole of India including the Exclusive Economic Zone.
- Application: Provisions of this Act applies to export, transfer, re-transfer, transit and trans-shipment of material, equipment or technology of any description as are identified, designated, categorised or considered by Central Government as Weapons of Mass Destruction and their delivery systems.
- Provisions of this Act apply to:
- Citizens of India outside India.
- Companies or bodies corporate, registered or incorporated in India or having their associates, branches or subsidiaries, outside India.
- Any ship, aircraft or other means of transport registered in India or outside India.
- Foreigners while in India
- Persons in service of Government of India, within and beyond India.
- Central may identify, designate, categorise or regulate the export, transfer, re-transfer, transhipment or transit of any item related to Weapons of Mass Destruction.
- Prohibition related to Weapons of Mass Destruction
- Nuclear Weapons: No person shall unlawfully manufacture, acquire, possess, develop or transport or transfer (directly or indirectly) a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device and their means of delivery.
- Chemical & Biological Weapons: No person shall unlawfully manufacture, acquire, possess, develop or transport (directly or indirectly) a biological or chemical weapon or their means of delivery.
- Missiles: No person shall unlawfully transfer, directly or indirectly, to any one missiles specially designed for delivery of weapons of mass destruction.
- Non-state actors or terrorists: No person shall, directly or indirectly, transfer to a non-State actor or terrorist, any material, equipment and technology related to Weapons of Mass Destruction.
- Brokering: No person who is a resident of India shall, for a consideration, knowingly facilitate execution of any transaction which is prohibited or regulated under this Act.
- Export: No person shall export any material, equipment or technology knowing that such material, equipment or technology is intended to be used in the design or manufacture of a biological weapon, chemical weapon, nuclear weapon or their missile delivery system.
- Punishment: Heavy punishments have been provided for contravening or abeting the provisions of this act.
Need for Amendments
- The risk of proliferation of WMDs to non-state actors is increasing due to rapid advances in science, technology and international commerce.
- FATF has expanded the scope of targeted financial sanctions and demanded tighter controls on the financing of WMD activities.
- New kinds of threats: Developments in the fields of drones or unauthorised work in biomedical labs that could be maliciously used for terrorist activities.
Changes introduced by Weapons of Mass Destruction & Their Delivery System (Amendment) Act, 2022
Prohibition on financing: No person shall finance any activity prohibited under this Act or UN (Security Council) Act, 1947 in relation to WMDs and their delivery systems.
For preventing financing by any person of above activities, the Central Government will have power to:
- Freeze, seize or attach funds or other economic resources owned or controlled, wholly or jointly, directly or indirectly by such person.
- Prohibit any person from making funds, financial assets or economic resources related to unlawful transfer of WMDs.