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Home > News > PTI

No more concessions for India: non-proliferation group

May 01, 2007 16:11 IST

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Coverage: Indo-US Nuclear Tango

Ahead of talks between India and the United States on a proposed agreement to operationalise the civilian nuclear deal, a prominent non-proliferation group has argued that the Bush administration cannot afford to further give concessions to New Delhi as it would 'compound' the damage already done to the global non-proliferation regime.

"Under pressure from its nuclear establishment, Indian officials are lobbying for further concessions that will reduce accountability and increase the capacity of its civil and military programmes but will be inconsistent with minimal conditions for trade established by Congress last year," Executive Director of the Arms Control Association Daryl Kimball wrote in an editorial in The Arms Control Today.

"Current US law stipulates that nuclear trade will end and US nuclear supplies must be returned if India resumes testing or otherwise violates the agreement. Nevertheless, New Delhi wants to drop references in the agreement to these requirements and ensure commercial nuclear contracts continue even if the underlying agreement is breached," he said.

Kimball had strongly opposed the deal in the past.  

"Other leading governments also have a responsibility to help remedy the deep flaws in the deal and hold all states to a higher non-proliferation and disarmament standard. India insists on keeping at least eight other reactors and India's extensive military nuclear complex off-limits and refuses to halt the production of plutonium and uranium for bombs," he said.

"Under these circumstances, partial safeguards are all symbols and no substance. Even worse, US supplies of uranium could free up India's limited domestic uranium supply for weapons and violate US legal obligations under the NPT not to assist India's bomb program," Kimball said.

Congress, Kimball pointed out, also specified that safeguards on India's civilian nuclear facilities and US-supplied material must be permanent and consistent with International Atomic Energy Agency standards.

"New Delhi is seeking 'India-specific' safeguards that will be suspended if foreign fuel supplies are interrupted. There is no precedent or safeguards plan for such an option, and it would be highly irresponsible for the IAEA to ever approve such a hollow arrangement," he said.

Last year's legislation, he said, specifically prohibits US transfer of sensitive nuclear technology to India, including uranium-enrichment and plutonium-separation equipment. It also preserves a requirement for US consent for the enrichment or reprocessing of US-origin material.

"Indian officials are strenuously objecting. But so far, US negotiators are resisting, partly because India has rejected permanent safeguards on its reprocessing and enrichment facilities and its plutonium-producing fast breeder reactors," Kimball said.

"Finally, the deal must win the NSG's consensus approval. Despite heavy pressure from US and Indian diplomats, many NSG states remain sceptical or opposed, but until they see all the details, they are officially reserving judgment. Meanwhile, Chinese and French officials suggest the NSG should adopt criteria-based trade guidelines rather than an India-specific rule. This could open the way for nuclear trade with China's ally Pakistan and possibly with Israel, creating additional proliferation risks," he maintained.

To ensure that nuclear assistance to India or others does not aid weapons production, responsible NSG states reject proposals that could allow nuclear trade involving enrichment or reprocessing technology to any non-NPT member and bar nuclear trade with any non-NPT member that produces fissile material for bombs or resumes nuclear testing.

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