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Experts ask NSG to reject India-specific exemptions

August 16, 2008 10:48 IST

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Non-proliferation specialists and non-government organisations have asked the foreign ministers of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to reject the US proposal to exempt India from long-standing global nuclear trade standards.

Over 150 non-proliferation specialists and NGOs, from around two-dozen countries, in letter to the Foreign Ministers of the NSG said: "India's commitments under the current terms of the proposed arrangement do not justify making far-reaching exceptions to international non-proliferation rules and norms."

The 45-member nations of NSG is scheduled to meet next week in Vienna [Images] to discuss the US proposal to relax NSG restrictions on trade with states, such as India, that refuse to allow comprehensive international nuclear safeguards.

The letter has been flagged by the Arms Control Association which has opposed the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal from the very beginning.

ACA Executive Director Daryl Kimball has said that opposition to the India exemption is expected from several members of the NSG.

"Unlike 178 other countries, India has not signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). It continues to produce fissile material and expand its nuclear arsenal. As one of only three states never to have signed the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), it has not made a legally- binding commitment to achieve nuclear disarmament," it said.

The experts and the NGOs noted that the arrangement would give India the rights and privileges of civil nuclear trade that have been reserved only for members in good standing under the NPT.                        

"It will create a dangerous distinction between 'good' proliferators and 'bad' proliferators and sends out misleading signals to the international community with regard to NPT norms," the letter said.

The signatories have warned that in the absence of a suspension of fissile material production for weapons by India "foreign nuclear fuel supplies would free up India's relatively limited domestic supplies to be used exclusively in its military nuclear sector, thereby indirectly contributing to the potential expansion of India's nuclear arsenal."

The NSG has been asked to "support measures that would avert further damage to the already beleaguered global non-proliferation and disarmament regime."

The signatories have said that if the NSG allows nuclear trade with India, then they should establish meaningful conditions and restrictions on it.

The conditions should include terminating nuclear trade with India if it resumes testing; prohibiting any transfer of sensitive plutonium reprocessing, uranium enrichment, or heavy water production items to India, which can be used to make bomb material; before India is granted a waiver from the NSG's full-scope safeguards standard.

Also India should join the other original nuclear weapon states by declaring it has stopped fissile material production for weapons purposes and transform its nuclear test moratorium into a meaningful, legally-binding commitment.

"If nuclear testing is to be deterred, meaningful penalties must be available. If NSG states do agree to supply fuel for India's 'civilian' nuclear sector, they must avoid arrangements that would enable or encourage future nuclear testing by India. Otherwise, you and your government may become complicit in the facilitation of a new round of destabilising nuclear tests," the letter has said.




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