LS nod to Bill to ban funding of weapons of mass destruction

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The Lok Sabha has passed a bill which seeks to ban funding of weapons of mass destruction and also empower the Centre to freeze, seize or attach financial assets and economic resources of people engaged in such activities.

The Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act, passed in 2005, only banned manufacture of weapons of mass destruction.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the passage of the amendment will strengthen India’s national security and its global position. He said the bill brought keeping in mind the national interest and global interest, and to strengthen India’s credentials and image.

He noted that the United Nations Security Council’s targeted financial sanctions and the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) have mandated against the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.

“We are upgrading a law which is 17 years old, which like other legislations need updating…FATF needs a very specific reference to financing…the bill is meant to be an amendment to a shortcoming, something which is missing in current law, it is not meant to be a new law,” the minister explained.

The Bill seeks to insert a new Section 12A 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.”

It also aims to give the government the powers to “freeze, seize or attach funds or other financial assets or economic resources owned or controlled, wholly or jointly, directly or indirectly, by such person; or held by or on behalf of, or at the direction of, such person; or derived or generated from the funds or other assets owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by such person”.

The amendment further proposes to “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”.

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