By Maria L Gaycheck
It took the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) nearly three (3) days of protracted negotiations in Vienna to reach the agreement which approved a US proposal to lift restrictions on selling nuclear technology to India.
The NSG is a group of nuclear supplier countries which seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of Guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear related exports. The NSG Guidelines are implemented by each Participating Government in accordance with its national laws and practices. Decisions on export applications are taken at the national level in accordance with national export licensing requirements.
The guidelines for NSG is governing the export of items that are especially designed or prepared for nuclear use. These include:
(i) nuclear material;
(ii) nuclear reactors and equipment therefor;
(iii) non-nuclear material for reactors;
(iv) plant and equipment for the reprocessing, enrichment and conversion of nuclear material and for fuel fabrication and heavy water production; and
(v) technology associated with each of the above items.
One of the requirements for each nation dealing with the NSG must sign sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The NPT basically halts any production of nuclear weapons. But this US/India is allowing India to expand its nuclear power industry without requiring it to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as other nations must.
Problem: India not signing the NPT following the examples of Israel, Pakistan and North Korea all of which test nuclear weapons freely.
The US and India are very happy with the deal. Also one nearby countrymust be extremely happy, Iran.
Problem: This deal undermines the whole Bush Administration reasoning for keeping Iran from developing its nuclear program and prevention or slowing the spread of nuclear weapons and nuclear materials and technologies used to produce them.
The Bush administration must rush this through Congress before legislators break to prepare for November’s elections. It could be the last political issued facing the US citizens voters. An aggressive move towards selling nuclear technologies to India will expand the lead between the Democrats, Independents vs Republicans. The could pull many away from the middle Republicans to move either towards Bob Barr, Obama or stay home on election day.
The controversy is not limited to the United States. India’s biggest opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the communists – former allies of the governing Congress party who withdrew support for the government over the nuclear deal – have accused the government of “deceiving” the country.
“There is a huge difference between what the US government is telling its Congress and what our government is telling us,” BJP leader Yashwant Sinha told reporters.
Problem: Under the terms of the deal, India would open 14 civilian nuclear facilities to inspection and leaving India’s nuclear weapons sites would remain off-limits, which would free up additional radioactive material for bomb-making purposes.
How will the US Congress vote, so close to the Presidential election?