N-deal critic asks NSG to reject ‘clean’ waiver for India

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : A major critic of the India-US nuclear deal has asked sceptics in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to reject a revised US draft to give India a “clean” or “unconditional” waiver for nuclear trade.

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Suggesting that the “Indian nuclear deal would be a non-proliferation disaster”, Daryl Kimball, a non-proliferation hawk and executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association (ACA), said Friday: “It is vital that responsible NSG states stand their ground.

“Some Indian officials have threatened they may walk away from the deal if the NSG establishes even if the most basic requirements. If that occurs, so be it,” he said in an editorial in the September edition of Arms Control Today.

The US and India are expected to develop a revised proposal that they hope will be approved by consensus at a forthcoming Sep 4-5 NSG conclave, Kimball said, suggesting “the revised proposal will likely only pay lip service to the other NSG states’ concerns”.

The George W. Bush administration is making a final push to win international support for its controversial initiative to roll back roughly three decades of global nuclear trade restrictions on India.

Contrary to common sense and Congressional requirements, Kimball said, the Bush administration is proposing that the 45-member cartel “approve unlimited and unconditional nuclear trade with India”.

“To their great credit, approximately 20 NSG members rejected giving India the blank cheque it desires at an Aug 21-22 meeting of the group,” Kimball said referring to the cartel’s failure to reach a consensus on giving India an exemption from its guidelines.

Some 15 of these countries back amendments that track with the restrictions and conditions established in 2006 US legislation, the Hyde Act, “including termination of nuclear trade if India resumes testing and a ban on the transfer of enrichment or reprocessing technology”.

“Incredibly, US officials are resisting even these most basic measures,” Kimball said. As assistant secretary of state’s Richard Boucher said in an Aug 19 interview, “some would like to see all the provisions of the Hyde Act legislated in some international fashion. We don’t think that is the right way.”

“If NSG states agree under pressure from an outgoing US administration to blow a hole in NSG guidelines in order to allow a few states to profit from nuclear trade with India,” Kimball said, they should do so only on a few minimum conditions.

The non-proliferation expert proposed that NSG establish a policy that if India resumes nuclear testing or violates its safeguards agreements, trade involving nuclear items with India shall be terminated and unused fuel supplies returned.

It should expressly prohibit any transfer of reprocessing, enrichment, or heavy-water production items or technology, which can be used to make bomb material and regularly review India’s compliance with its non-proliferation obligations and commitments, he said.

The nuclear cartel, Kimball proposed, should also call on India to join with four of the five original nuclear-weapon states in declaring that it has stopped fissile material production and call on India to transform its nuclear test moratorium pledge into a legally binding commitment.