Groups lobby for restrictions on US-India nuclear deal
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Some 130 nuclear experts and non-governmental groups have sent letters to governments to a bid to lobby for curbs on a controversial US nuclear deal with India, officials said Wednesday.
The letter was addressed to about 50 governments ahead of meetings to scrutinize the deal by global atomic regulatory groups, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
The IAEA is the UN's nuclear watchdog while the 45-nation NSG regulates nuclear commerce.
"What we are doing here is calling upon the NSG states and the IAEA board of governors to take an extremely careful look at the proposal to exempt India from key safeguards, conditions for nuclear trade," Daryl Kimball, executive director of the US Arms Control Association, told AFP.
The association was among lead groups of the signature campaign.
Under the deal, the United States would provide India with nuclear fuel and technology even though the Asian nation has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George W. Bush forged the deal more than two years ago but Singh is facing pressure against it from communist and other left-wing parties propping up his government in parliament.
"My sense is that our message will be well received by many of these governments who are concerned about this deal," Kimball said.
"If the deal gets pass domestic opposition in India, I think several states are going to raise key objections at the NSG," he said.
Under the deal, India must put selected nuclear facilities under international safeguards, including inspections.
The United States and India adopted an operational agreement for the deal in August last year after complex negotiations and New Delhi is negotiating with the IAEA on a separate pact that would incorporate critical safeguards.
They also have to endorsed by the NSG and get mandatory approval from the US Congress, where legislators have vowed to give the deal close scrutiny.
The letter wanted 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."