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Home > News > PTI

Nuclear deal provides India-specific safeguards: US expert

Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington | September 05, 2007 10:22 IST
Last Updated: September 05, 2007 10:24 IST

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The Indo-US nuclear tango

 The proposed India-United States nuclear agreement provides undefined India-specific safeguards and fails to explicitly state whether the US nuclear trade will terminate if India conducts a nuclear test, a senior arms control specialist has said.

"The pact promises India assurances of nuclear fuel supply and advance consent to carry out sensitive nuclear activities that are unprecedented and inconsistent with legislation approved by Congress last year," Daryl Kimbal of the Arms Control Agency has said.

Kimbal pointed out that these concessions will give favourable terms of trade to India as compared to countries which have followed all the obligations and responsibilities of the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

Asking the Congress and the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group to prevent further damage, he said, "Much is at stake. In the coming months, Congress and the NSG can prevent further damage by using their authority to close the loopholes in the deeply flawed Indo-US agreement."

While many NSG member states support India's legitimate nuclear energy goals, they are also deeply uncomfortable with the agreement, Kimbal told the Arms Control Today.

He added that the Indo-US agreement allows India to take unspecified corrective measures if fuel supplies are disrupted. Congress and the NSG should reject any proposal for non-standard safeguards for Indian reactors, said Kimbal.

"Unlike other nuclear agreements, the Indo-US deal fails to clearly state that a resumption of nuclear testing would lead to a termination of nuclear transfers and the return of US-supplied equipment and material

"To protect its testing options, India sought and got an unprecedented US commitment to help India amass a strategic reserve of nuclear fuel to guard against any supply disruption. Incredibly, the agreement also commits Washington to help New Delhi secure fuel supplies from other countries even if it resumes testing," argued Kimbal.

Unless the NSG asks India to halt fissile material production for weapons as a condition for nuclear trade, supplying nuclear fuel to India for power production will free up its limited domestic supplies for bomb production, predicted Kimbal.

"This will not only contradict NPT restrictions barring assistance to  nuclear weapons programmes, but it will prompt neighbouring Pakistan to increase its fissile material production capacity," the non-proliferation specialist said. 

"The Indo-US agreement may lead usually sensible states to ignore their legal commitments too. For example, Australia has recently lifted the ban on uranium sale to India," said Kimbal.

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