Two US lawmakers ask NSG not to loosen nuclear rules for India

August 20th, 2008 - 8:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 20 (IANS) As India prepared to present its case to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to facilitate the India-US civil nuclear deal, two leading US lawmakers asked the cartel not to “loosen nuclear rules for India”.The Indian nuclear deal “threatens to rapidly accelerate New Delhi’s arms race with Pakistan - a rivalry made all the more precarious by the resignation Tuesday of the Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf”, said Edward J. Markey and O. Tauscher in an op-ed piece in the New York Times Wednesday.

Markey is co-chairman of the House Bipartisan Task Force on Non-proliferation and Ellen is chairperson of the House Strategic Forces Subcommittee.

The deal also “threatens international security not only by undermining our nuclear rules, but also by expanding India’s nuclear weapons programme”, they wrote. “That’s because every pound of uranium that India is allowed to import for its power reactors frees up a pound of uranium for its bomb programme.”

If President George W. Bush gets his way in persuading the NSG, which governs international nuclear commerce, to waive its most crucial rules, “India’s yearly nuclear weapons production capability would likely increase from seven bombs to 40 or 50″, Markey and Ellen said.

“Pakistan, with its unstable government and Al Qaeda sanctuaries, is already ratcheting up its nuclear weapons programme in an attempt to keep pace with its regional rival,” the two lawmakers said.

“Just last month, the Pakistani government darkly announced that waiving the nuclear rules for India “threatens to increase the chances of a nuclear arms race in the subcontinent.

“If the group accedes to President Bush’s dangerous request, countries such as Iran and North Korea would certainly use the precedent to their advantage,” they warned.

However, Markey and Ellen suggested “an easy solution”. The NSG should say yes to nuclear trade with India on “two simple conditions”: New Delhi must sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and agree to halt production of nuclear material for weapons.

“That doesn’t mean that India has to give up the weapons it has, or even that it cannot make more weapons with the nuclear material it has already produced,” the lawmakers said.

“But by closing down its manufacturing of new plutonium and highly enriched uranium, India would prove to the international community that opening up nuclear commerce would not assist, either directly or indirectly, its nuclear weapons programme.

“This deal was foolish when Pakistan was relatively stable; with Musharraf gone, an arms race on the subcontinent would likely be more difficult to control,” Markey and Ellen said.

“Every country in the 45-nation group has the ability and the duty to insist that this flawed nuclear deal be improved and to ensure that nuclear trade with India cannot benefit New Delhi’s nuclear weapons programme,” they said, noting that NSG rules can be made only by unanimous agreement.

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