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Experts Challenge IAEA Head's Statements on U.S.-Indian Nuclear Deal
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For Immediate Release: July 24, 2006
Press Contact: Daryl G. Kimball, (202) 463-8270 x107

(Washington, D.C.) A dozen nuclear experts sent a letter today to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei criticizing his statements of support for a controversial U.S. initiative to expand civil nuclear trade with India. The experts charge that ElBaradei’s promotion of the deal is “surprising and disappointing” because it requires breaking with existing U.S. and international nuclear trade rules and undermines global efforts to stop the spread and build-up of nuclear arms.

The IAEA promotes the use of nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes worldwide while also seeking to ensure that civilian nuclear facilities and materials are not used to produce nuclear weapons.

ElBaradei’s support for creating exceptions to established rules and practices “betrays” two principled positions he has long advocated, according to the experts. ElBaradei has argued for universal progress toward nuclear disarmament and against double standards for nuclear weapons haves and have-nots. The U.S.-Indian deal, however, would provide India nuclear trade benefits reserved for countries that have forsworn nuclear weapons or those legally bound to give them up; neither of which is true of India.

“India is moving in the opposite direction,” according to the experts. Their letter notes that under the proposed U.S.-Indian nuclear deal the supply of foreign nuclear fuel to India “would, in fact, add to its nuclear weapons capability by freeing up its existing and limited domestic capacity to produce highly enriched uranium and plutonium exclusively for weapons.”

“ElBaradei has been a longtime champion for nuclear disarmament and an outspoken critic of nuclear double standards, which is why his endorsement of the U.S.-Indian deal is so puzzling and upsetting,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association and one of the letter signatories. Also signing the letter were several former high-level U.S. government nuclear experts, including John Holum, former undersecretary of state for arms control and international security during the Clinton administration, and Norm Wulf, who from 1999 to 2002 served as the president’s special representative for nuclear nonproliferation.

Although ElBaradei and other proponents of the deal contend it will strengthen the nonproliferation regime, the experts disagree. They write that the deal will be an “added burden on the already stretched resources” of the IAEA, while “securing no meaningful constraint on the growth of India’s nuclear weapons stockpile.” To help remedy the deal’s shortcomings, the experts recommend that India halt the production of the key ingredients for making nuclear weapons before the deal is enacted.

“The U.S.-Indian deal is not an effective way to restructure the [nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty] system and would lead to the further unraveling of the basic security bargain established between the nuclear haves and have-nots,” the experts conclude.

The full text of the letter with a complete list of signatories and more information on the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal visit the Arms Control Association’s resource page on the initiative at http://www.armscontrol.org/projects/india/.

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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Posted: July 24, 2006