The G8 Summit has become an accelerator for an issue that has being simmering for over three years and which threatens to undermine the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.
Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, wants to be able to report progress on the US-India nuclear agreement when he meets President Bush during this year’s Summit in Japan. He wants to report that India will soon take the next step on an IAEA safeguards agreement (covering a limited number of India’s nuclear facilities), even though this risks bringing down his own government in the process.
The US-India nuclear agreement will enable trade in nuclear materials and equipment not only between India and the US, but also with other nuclear supplier states, including France and Russia, which are keen to win contracts to construct nuclear power plants in India. The agreement effectively grants India the privileges of nuclear weapons states (NWS), despite the fact that India developed nuclear weapons outside the NPT regime. It doesn’t even require India to accept the same responsibilities as other states: full-scope IAEA safeguards for non-NWS and a commitment from NWS to negotiate in good faith for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
If Singh’s party allows him to proceed, the schedule is likely to be as follows:
– within the next few days and probably not until July 9th, Singh will give Indian officials the green light to begin circulating the safeguards agreement which will trigger the withdrawal of the Left Parties on whose support the government depends;
– India will try to get the IAEA Board of Governors to meet by sometime in August to decide on the safeguards agreement;
– the U.S. will simultaenously start circulating and lobbying for an exemption for India from Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) export guidelines.
– we can expect an NSG consultative (discussion) and NSG emergency plenary (decision-making) meeting by Sept-Oct.
While the G8 Summit is not directly relevant to the US-India nuclear aggrement, it appears that it has become a catalyst for this regime-busting deal. If media reports are proved to be correct, the nuclear disarmament movement will need to respond swiftly. In particular, pressure will have to be applied to governments of the 45-nation NSG.
For more information, see the following sites:
Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, Tokyo (white[a]cnic.jp)
Coordinator, Abolition 2000 US-India Deal Working Group