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Keep an eye on how India uses N-deal, US told

Last updated on: February 1, 2011 12:05 IST

Keep an eye on how India uses N-deal, US told

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The nuclear nonproliferation lobby has urged the United States administration to ensure that America's dual-use technology is not diverted by New Delhi to its nuclear weapons programme.

Its appeal comes in the wake of the Barack Obama administration's decision to remove Indian entities like Indian Space Research Organisation, Defence Research and Development Orgainsation and their subordinates from the department of commerce's entity list.

The Washington-based Institute for Science and Security, which is headed by David Albright, an erstwhile United Nations inspector of Iraq's alleged nuclear weapons programme during the reign of Saddam Hussein, said the US "will need to ensure that dual-use goods do not get to India's un-safeguarded nuclear facilities, particularly plants that support its military programme."
 
The ISIS was part on the nuclear nonproliferation coalition that lobbied the US Congress strongly against the India-US nuclear deal.

The Obama administration "should announce that it will regularly verify the end use of sensitive dual-use goods sent to Indian entities or companies," said the institute.

Reportage: Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC


Image: An activist shouts slogans to protest against the nuclear deal
Photographs: Arko Datta/Reuters
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India needs to strengthen nonproliferation measures'

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The Indian government should explicitly state that " it commits not to divert US or other suppliers' goods to its nuclear weapons programmes," and "government-owned or controlled entities will not engage in illicit nuclear trade to bypass supplier export controls either directly or indirectly, such as via trading companies."
 
The ISIS said, "If India sends US dual-use goods to its nuclear weapons or uns-afeguarded nuclear facilities, the United States should reverse its new policy pending the return of these goods."
 
It also pilloried the Obama administration for recommending that India be invited to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group. "Before it is invited to join the NSG, India will need to significantly strengthen its nonproliferation credentials," it said.
 
The ISIS recalled that "In May 2009, a senior US State Department official noted during a discussion with NSG members that India needed to strengthen its export controls and nonproliferation measures ahead of becoming a member of the NSG, and that the United States would be hard on India if it did not."

Image: An activist holds a placard to protest against the nuclear deal
Photographs: Arko Datta/Reuters
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'It sets a poor precedent'

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It warned, "If the United States fails to create safeguards against the transfer of dual-use goods imported by civil, space, and defence entities to India's nuclear weapons programme, this policy risks facilitating India's expansion and improvement of its nuclear weapons arsenal and the means to deliver them".

"That will inevitably provoke Pakistan into further expanding its own nuclear weapons programme, intensifying the ongoing and dangerous nuclear arms race in the South Asia region," it added, harking back to the age-old argument by the nuclear non-proliferarion lobby.

The ISIS said the Obama administration's decision "Unfortunately marks a further reversal of a decades-long policy toward India which prevented sensitive equipment sales to a country with nuclear weapons outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."

"It sets a poor precedent for NPT non-nuclear weapon states and those with nuclear weapons outside the NPT, while undermining the central bargain of the NPT," it said.

The ISIS said the administration's policy also "appears to downplay India's flawed nonproliferation record," and alleged that India "has leaked sensitive centrifuge design information, illicitly procured goods for its nuclear weapons programmes, and not adequately enforced export controls."


Image: A nearly 200 ton nuclear reactor safety vessel is erected at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research at Kalpakkam
Photographs: Babu/Reuters
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'India has many incentives to break the new rules'

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Thus it reiterated that "increasing India's access to dual-use technology before the Indian government fixes these problems increases the likelihood that some of this technology could leak out through its poorly implemented controls."

The ISI said, "The Obama administration's policy on US sales to India goes a step beyond the Bush administration's successful 2005 bid to gain a NSG exemption for civil nuclear cooperation with India," and bemoaned "Unfortunately, for the economic gain and symbolic strengthening of the US-Indian relationship, the new policy risks undermining the goal of nuclear nonproliferation."

"India has many incentives to bend or break the new rules being proposed by the Obama administration.  Constraints on the supply of dual-use goods have usefully created limits on India's ability to improve and expand its nuclear arsenal," said the institute.

The ISIS alleged that "For many years, India has sought to expand its military enrichment programme at Mysore with the addition of 3,000 centrifuges, and has relied greatly on illicit procurements abroad of dual-use and nuclear components to support this effort."


Image: Satish Dhawan Space Centre, affiliated to ISRO
Photographs: Courtesy: http://www.isro.org/
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'Unprecedented influx into India of high technology goods'

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It said, "As recently as March 2010, commercial satellite imagery showed the construction of a new, large industrial building at the Mysore site, which could be a new gas centrifuge uranium enrichment hall, representing a modernisation or expansion of its centrifuge programme.  Following implementation of the US policy, India may find it easier to import needed dual-use goods such as valves, vacuum pumps, manufacturing equipment, and specialised material to build and maintain these centrifuges.  Across the board India may find it hard to resist violating US policy as the most straightforward way to significantly improve its nuclear weapons capabilities."

Furthermore, the ISIS predicted that the "New US policy will almost certainly result in the lifting of dual-use sanctions by other countries anxious to do business with India.  Russia and France have already indicated support for Indian membership in the NSG.  If India is allowed to join the NSG, it will gain even freer access to dual-use goods. These steps will compound the unprecedented influx into India of high technology goods it could once acquire only by illicitly procuring these items."

"Even if the United States puts into place end-use checks on dual-use goods, it may not be able to ensure that every country does the same.  At the very least, the United States should commit to conduct end-use checks at the request of other governments that have far fewer resources than the US."

The ISIS, in reiterating the Pakistan bogey, said "Pakistan can be expected to perceive the dual-use exemption for India as grounds for a possible expansion of its nuclear weapons programme and a solid rationale to resist any caps or constraints on its nuclear arsenal or future weapons grade plutonium or highly enriched uranium production.  It can be expected to demand the same exemption for itself from the United States and other suppliers."


Image: Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev takes part in a welcoming ceremony in Delhi
Photographs: Dmitry Astakhov/Reuters
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