LAWS GOVERNING 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.
In keeping with India's international obligations, the Bill proposes to amend the Weapons of Mass Destruction and Their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act, 2005, to prohibit the financing of the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.
India’s 2005 WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction ) Act defines:
“Biological weapons” as “microbial or other biological agents, or toxins…of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes; and weapons, equipment or delivery systems specially designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict”
“Chemical weapons” as “toxic chemicals and their precursors” except where used for peaceful, protective, and certain specified military and law enforcement purposes; “munitions and devices specifically designed to cause death or other harm through the toxic properties of those toxic chemicals”; and any equipment specifically designed for use in connection with the employment of these munitions and devices.
ORIGIN OF USAGE OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
The term "weapon of mass destruction" (WMD) was first coined in 1937 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the Church of England, to refer to the aerial bombing of civilians in the Basque town of Guernica by German and Italian fascists in support of General Franco during the Spanish Civil War.
REASON FOR 2005 ACT AMENDMENT
External Affairs Minister Jaishankar introduced the bill to amend the 2005 Act to prohibit the financing of the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, in accordance with India's international obligations. It empowers the government to freeze and take the assets of those who engage in such behaviour. 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 the Bill's Statement of Objects and Reasons, because "recently, regulations relating to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems by international organisations have expanded," and "the United Nations Security Council's targeted financial sanctions and the Financial Action Task Force's recommendations have mandated against financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction ."
REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE USE OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
A variety of international treaties and accords govern the use of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.
The Geneva Protocol, signed in 1925, prohibited the use of chemical and biological weapons; the Biological Weapons Convention, signed in 1972, and the Chemical Weapons Convention, signed in 1992, both established extensive bans on biological and chemical weapons.
Both the 1972 and 1992 treaties have been signed and ratified by India. Despite the fact that numerous countries have been accused of non-compliance, there are very few non-signatory countries to these treaties.
Treaties such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty govern the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons (CTBT).China, France, Russia, the US, and the UK are also among 191 states that signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Under the agreement, they have to reduce their stockpile of nuclear warheads and, in theory, are committed to their complete elimination