For Immediate Release: January 9, 2008
Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, Exec. Director, Arms Control Association 1-202-463-8270 x107;
Philip White, Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, Tokyo, and Coordinator, Abolition 2000 U.S.-India Deal Working Group 81-3-3357-3800
(Washington, D.C.-Tokyo, Japan): In a letter sent to more than four-dozen governments this week, a prestigious and broad array of more than 130 experts and nongovernmental organizations from 23 countries said the U.S. proposal to exempt India from longstanding global nuclear trade standards “would damage the already fragile nuclear nonproliferation system and set back efforts to achieve universal nuclear disarmament.”
The international appeal to “Fix the Proposal for Nuclear Cooperation with India” calls upon 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.”
Among the former government officials and experts endorsing the appeal is Amb. Jayantha Dhanapala, the former UN Undersecretary General for Disarmament Affairs and President of the 1995 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference. Other notable signatories include the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Nongovernmental organizations from South Asia, East Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Europe, Africa, and North America endorsed the letter, which was organized by the Tokyo-based Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center and the Washington-based Arms Control Association.
In the coming weeks, the 35-member International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors and the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) will likely take up the issue. The appeal is part of a global NGO campaign to influence governments’ views about the controversial nuclear trade proposal.
Current international guidelines severely restrict trade with states, such as India, that do not allow comprehensive international safeguards over all their nuclear facilities and material. The 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) bars direct or indirect assistance of another state’s nuclear weapons program. India, which detonated a nuclear bomb in 1974 made with plutonium harvested from a Canadian reactor with U.S. origin material in violation of bilateral peaceful nuclear use agreements, has not joined the NPT, continues to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons, and has not signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
Nevertheless, in July 2005, U.S. President George W. Bush pledged to seek changes in longstanding U.S. laws and international guidelines to permit increased civil nuclear trade with India. In return, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pledged to allow additional IAEA oversight of certain Indian nuclear reactors under a new “India-specific” safeguards agreement now being negotiated with the agency.
“Contrary to the claims of its advocates,” the signatories write, “the proposed arrangement fails to bring India into conformity with the nonproliferation behavior expected of other states. India’s commitments under the current terms of the proposed arrangement do not justify making far-reaching exceptions to international nonproliferation rules and norms.”
Noting that the IAEA Board and the NSG traditionally operate by consensus, the signatories also note that each member state “has a pivotal role to play.” The appeal calls upon the governments to consider additional conditions and restrictions on nuclear trade with India.
Among other recommendations, the appeal urges governments “to actively oppose any arrangement that would give India any special safeguards exemptions or would in any way be inconsistent with the principle of permanent safeguards over all nuclear materials and facilities.” India is reportedly seeking IAEA safeguards that could allow India to cease IAEA scrutiny if nuclear fuel supplies are cut off, even if that is because India renews nuclear testing.
The appeal insists that NSG states “should under no circumstances” allow for the transfer to India of plutonium reprocessing, uranium enrichment, or heavy water production technology, which may be replicated and used to help produce nuclear bomb material. India is seeking access to these sensitive technologies from the United States and other suppliers.
Noting that the nuclear cooperation proposal could help India expand its nuclear weapons arsenal, the appeal also urges governments to insist that India “join the original nuclear -weapon states by declaring it has stopped fissile material production for weapons purposes and … make a legally-binding commitment to permanently end nuclear testing.”
The appeal argues that “in the very least,” NSG states should “clarify that all nuclear trade shall immediately cease if India resumes nuclear testing for any reason.” To do otherwise “would undercut the international norm against nuclear testing and make a mockery of NSG guidelines,” according to the supporters of the appeal.For the full list of endorsers and the text of the appeal to “Fix the Proposal for Nuclear Cooperation with India,” see <www.armscontrol.org/pressroom/2008/NSGappeal.asp>.