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Weapons of Mass Destruction (Amendment) Bill

The Lok Sabha unanimously passed the Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery System (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Amendment Bill 2022.

Let's first understand the phrase "Weapons of Mass Destruction". Weapons that cause mass destruction such as nuclear, radiological, biological, or chemical basically designed to harm a large number of people. The most powerful nuclear weapon to date is Tsar Bomba developed in the Soviet Union which is a hydrogen bomb also called a Thermonuclear bomb.

The bill seeks to amend the Weapons of Mass Destruction and Delivery System Act 2005. The reason is to ban funding of WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) and empower the centre to freeze and seize functional assets of people involved in such activities.

This amendment was needed as the earlier WMD law only banned their manufacturing, transfer, and transport, and also because in recent times regulations relating to the proliferation of WMD and their delivery system by an international organization have expanded.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) targeted financial sanctions and recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) mandated against the financing of proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery System.

Changes in the ACT:
A new section 12A is been intended to be inserted in the existing law which states that:
No person shall finance any activity which is prohibited under this Act, or under the United Nations (Security Council) Act, 1947, or any other relevant Act for the time being in force, or by an order issued under any such act, in relation to weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.

For prevention of financing by any person of any activity which is prohibited under in act or United Nations Security Council Act, 1947, the Central Government shall have the power to:
  1. freeze, seize, or attach funds or other financial assets or economic resources by such person;
  2. prohibit any person from making funds, financial assets or economic resources, or related services available for the benefit of persons related to any activity which is prohibited under this Act, or under the United Nations (Security Council) Act, 1947, or any other relevant Act for the time being in force.
The Central Government may exercise its powers under this section through any authority that has been assigned the power under sub-section (1) of section 7.

There are a number of treaties that regulate the use and production of weapons of mass destruction:
  1. Geneva Protocol of 1925, prohibits the use of chemical and biological weapons.
  2. The Biological Weapons Convention, 1972, and (iii) Chemical Weapons Convention, 1992, the purpose of which is to prohibit biological and chemical weapons respectively.
India has signed and ratified both treaties. There are several non-signatory countries to these treaties also there are countries that have not complied with the treaty but have signed it.

There are treaties such as Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty meant to regulate the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons. Also Read:

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