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N-deal: Non-proliferation lobby flays safeguard agreement

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC | July 10, 2008 09:00 IST

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As expected, the non-proliferation lobby in the United States -- which has been vehemently opposed to the deal and has sought to torpedo it, lobbying feverishly on Capitol Hill with Congressman Howard Berman, California Democrat, and chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee as its key ally and the one who introduced killer amendments during the House debate and vote on the enabling legislation -- lost no time in poking holes in the India-IAEA safeguards agreement.
Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association and the point person in coordinating the non-proliferation lobby's opposition to the deal, told that "as we expected, the proposed agreement contains conflicting language on what India might be able to do if it resumes testing and fuel supplies are terminated."
Referring to the preamble where India states that it may take unspecified 'corrective actions' to ensure fuel supplies in the event they are interrupted, he said, it was imperative that the IAEA and its board of governors members "should clarify for the record what these 'corrective actions' India might be contemplating before taking a decision on the agreement."
"If India interprets the agreement as allowing it to remove facilities or materials from safeguards in the event of a fuel supply interruption -- which would only happen in the event that India resumes testing -- it would violate the principle of permanent safeguards over all nuclear materials and facilities," he said, and added, "it would also contradict the requirement established by the US Congress in implementing legislation passed in 2006 that the safeguards last 'in perpetuity and are consistent with IAEA standards and practices.'"
Kimball also complained that "another oddity is that India has not included in the agreements 'annex' its 'declaration' of facilities it would place under safeguards,' and said that by leaving it blank that there could be an interchange between civilian and military facilities that includes its nuclear weapons program facilities.
He argued that "it is ordinary practice that such agreements list the facility or facilities that would be covered by the agreement at the time the board of governors considers them for approval."
Kimball said that "IAEA members states should not take a decision until that list is made available."
Meanwhile, Ambassador Ronen Sen was scheduled to leave for New Delhi this weekend for what sources said was consultations with the prime minister, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to discuss the nuclear deal in the wake of the recent developments and the prime minister's meeting with President Bush and to devise a strategy on how to expedite its consummation in Congress if the government of India can rush it over to the US once Washington -- as Bush is supposed to have pledged to the prime minister -- is able to convince the members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to give the agreement the green light.
They said that Ambassador David Mulford's meetings with some NSG members already in New Delhi was an indication that Washington had already begun this lobbying process and that Bush too in meetings with G-8 counterparts who belong to the NSG had brought up the issue and called for their support.

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