July 7, 2008
US-India Nuclear Agreement – Still a Bad Deal:
Global Network of NGOs Urge International Community to Oppose
The US-India Deal Working Group of Abolition 2000, a global network of over 2000 organizations in more than 90 countries working for a global treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons, says that pressure to rush a decision on the US-India Nuclear Agreement must be resisted.
The organizations are calling upon key governments “to play an active role in supporting measures that would ensure this controversial proposal does not: further undermine the nuclear safeguards system and efforts to prevent the proliferation of technologies that may be used to produce nuclear bomb material,” or “in any way contribute to the expansion of India’s nuclear arsenal.”
This week, in defiance of opposition from Left Parties on whose support it depends, the Indian government is expected to circulate a draft nuclear Safeguards Agreement to the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In doing so, it set in motion the remaining steps required to operationalize the US-India bilateral nuclear agreement (known as the “123 Agreement” after the relevant clause in the US Atomic Energy Act). Besides the Safeguards Agreement, the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) must grant India a special exemption from its nuclear trade guidelines and finally the US Congress must accept the terms of the “123 Agreement”.
It took two years from the July 2005 Joint Statement by Prime Minister Singh and President Bush until the text of the “123 Agreement” was finalized and nearly a year has elapsed since then. After delaying for so long, the decision at this time by the Indian government to send the draft Safeguards Agreement to the IAEA Board of Governors has more to do with the personal pride of Prime Minister Singh than with any changes in national or international circumstances. It appears that Mr Singh is more concerned about keeping faith with President Bush than the chances that the deal might actually be concluded. Most political commentators, including proponents of the deal within the US government and Congress, believe that the required steps cannot be completed during the life of the Bush Administration. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that the next President will wish to proceed with the deal in its current form.
The US-India Nuclear Agreement was a bad deal when it was originally conceived and nothing has changed to redeem it since then. All the problems identified in a letter sent to the NSG and the IAEA by 130 NGOs and experts in January this year still remain. See the following link for the text of and list of signatories of the international letter:
The deal 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.
The IAEA and NSG must not to be stampeded into making decisions to fit in with an unrealistic political time-table. The 35 countries represented on the IAEA Board of Governors must consider the possibility that special conditions demanded by India could undermine the credibility of the IAEA safeguards system itself. They must also consider whether undertakings made by a minority government in the face of strong opposition would actually be honored. The NSG must consider the implications for the international non-proliferation regime of granting India a special exemption. These are weighty matters which should not be judged precipitously.
The IAEA Board of Governors and the Nuclear Suppliers Group of countries should, as a minimum condition, hold firm to the longstanding international effort to end all production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium to make nuclear weapons. They should insist that the U.S.-India deal be conditioned on an end to further production of fissile materials for weapons purposes in South Asia.
JAPAN: Philip White, Coordinator, Abolition 2000 US-India Deal Working Group +81-3-3357-3800
Kawasaki Akira, Executive committee member, Peace Boat +81-90-8310-5370 kawasaki[a]peaceboat.gr.jp (presently at G8 Summit International Media Center, Hokkaido)
INDIA: Sukla Sen, National Coordination Committee Member, Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace +91-22-6553-4377
UNITED STATES: Daryl Kimball, Director, Arms Control Association, +1-202-463-8270
c/- Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, Tokyo, Japan
Tel: 81-3-3357-3800 Fax: 81-3-3357-3801 Email 1: white[a]cnic.jp