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– Senator Joe Biden
January 28, 2004
Experts Urge Senate to Fix Flaws in U.S.-Indian Nuclear Proposal
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For Immediate Release: September 12, 2006

Press Contact: Daryl G. Kimball, (202) 463-8270 x107

(Washington, D.C.) In a letter delivered to Senate offices today, a group of 16 nuclear nonproliferation experts called upon lawmakers to remedy serious flaws plaguing the controversial July 2005 U.S.-Indian nuclear trade proposal. The letter urges lawmakers to strive to “further offset the adverse effects of the arrangement on U.S. nonproliferation and security objectives.”

The Senate might vote on legislation to advance the nuclear trade pact later this month. The House passed a similar measure in July and the two chambers must reconcile their separate versions into a final bill.

The legislation is required because Congress instituted laws restricting nuclear trade with India after it conducted a 1974 nuclear test using U.S. and Canadian nuclear imports designated for peaceful purposes only. The Bush administration and New Delhi are pressing Congress to enact as lenient of terms as possible for exempting India from these restrictions, but the experts are encouraging lawmakers to adopt and uphold measures essential for U.S. security and nonproliferation.

One of the experts’ chief recommendations is the addition of a determination that U.S. civil nuclear trade does not in any way assist or encourage India’s nuclear weapons program. The authors also call upon lawmakers to prohibit the U.S. government from continuing nuclear assistance or facilitating foreign nuclear exports to India if the Indian government or Indian entities break existing nonproliferation commitments and practices.

The experts further recommend that legislators should restrict full U.S. nuclear trade until India joins the five original nuclear-weapon states in stopping the production of fissile material (plutonium and highly enriched uranium) for weapons or subscribes to a multilateral fissile production cutoff agreement.

“We believe these measures are necessary because India has neither joined the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, nor accepted safeguards on all of its nuclear facilities, and India’s nonproliferation policy is not fully consistent with the nonproliferation practices and responsibilities expected of the original nuclear-weapon states,” wrote the experts.

As part of the proposed deal, India has pledged to accept safeguards on only eight additional “civilian” nuclear facilities by 2014. Current and future military-related nuclear reactors, enrichment and reprocessing plants, and weapons fabrication facilities would remain unsafeguarded. Safeguards are measures that aim to deter and detect the diversion of civilian nuclear materials and technologies to weapons purposes.

The experts note that “partial IAEA safeguards would do nothing to prevent the continued production of fissile material for weapons in unsafeguarded facilities.” Furthermore, “foreign supplies of nuclear fuel to India could assist India’s bomb program by freeing-up its existing limited capacity to support the production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons,” they wrote. The full text of the letter is available at http://www.armscontrol.org/pdf/20060912_India_Ltr_Congress.pdf.

For more information and resources on the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal, see the Arms Control Association’s special resource page on the subject at http://www.armscontrol.org/projects/india.

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The Arms Control Association (ACA) is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting effective arms control policies. ACA publishes the monthly journal Arms Control Today.

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