N-deal critics ask NSG to reject “clean” waiver for India

September 3rd, 2008 - 12:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 3 (IANS) Leading critics of the India-US nuclear deal have asked the sceptics in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) “to stand together” and reject the US proposal to give New Delhi a “clean and unconditional” exemption.India and the US are hoping to push some “cosmetic changes” at the nuclear cartel’s Sep 4-5 meeting in Vienna to consider Washington’s revised proposal for a waiver, Daryl Kimball, the Executive Director of the Arms Control Association (ACA) said Tuesday.

But it was “extremely important” that anything “unsound and irresponsible” should be rejected, he said at a briefing on the deal organised by the ACA. Two other non-proliferation experts made similar critical comments.

“The US credibility is at stake,” said Henry Sokolski, Executive Director of the Non-proliferation Policy Education Centre, suggesting the Bush administration is “saying a lot of things to many audiences and it needs to get its act together.”

Describing the upcoming Vienna meeting as “the 9/11 of Non Proliferation and a turning point in a negative way”, he said: “It is hard to see how it can be anything but an engine of destruction.”

The international community should care as the India-US nuclear deal would lead to an arms race, Sokolski said. It is “something that should not be encouraged” as the bottom line objective should be to see everyone cutting down on their nuclear arsenals.

“There is no way this deal is going to be approved by Congress without violating the Hyde Act,” he said referring to the contentious US enabling law.

Sharon Squassoni, Senior Associate in the Non-proliferation Programme of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the Bush administration had been very specific in assuring the House Foreign Affairs Committee that in the event of a nuclear test by India, there will be a cut-off in US fuel supplies, among other measures.

But “I am not sure if the Indian government will agree with this…. It is very important that the NSG writes this down, ” she said as the administration itself had given the lawmakers specific assurances regarding termination and fuel supply.

In October of 2007, the House panel had given the State Department a set of 45 questions. But under a specific request of the administration, its responses were not made public until Tuesday.

“In general, US administration has to follow US law. India will not be very happy with the responses,” Squassoni said. With only some 19 days left in the Congressional session, it is difficult, if not impossible how this deal could get through the current Congress, she said.

The lawmakers are scheduled to hold their last session Sep 8 to 22.

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