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Congressman urges Rice to postpone India nuclear agreement

[JURIST] Howard Berman (D-CA), Chairman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee [official websites], released a letter obtained by JURIST on Thursday in which he urged the Bush administration to postpone an international nuclear trade deal with India until the country is required to provide permanent security to nuclear facilities and stop nuclear weapons testing. Berman said that without the requirements, the agreement would violate a 2006 US law [HR 5862 materials] and give other NSG countries an advantage in trade with India, and urged the administration to push for a deal consistent with a resolution [HR 711] he introduced in 2007. The deal under consideration by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) [official website] would provide an exception to International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) rules [PDF, text] to allow NSG member states to trade nuclear materials with India, despite the fact that it is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) [PDF, text]. In the letter, addressed to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Berman wrote:

I am a friend of India and a supporter of U.S.-India nuclear cooperation. Yet I find it incomprehensible that the Administration apparently intends to seek or accept an exemption from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) guidelines for India with few or none of the conditions contained in the Henry J. Hyde United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act of 2006. Such an exemption would be inconsistent with U.S. law, place American firms at a severe competitive disadvantage, and undermine critical U.S. nonproliferation objectives. It would also jeopardize congressional support for nuclear cooperation with India, this year and in the future.

Last year I introduced H. Res 711, a resolution that expresses the sense of the House that the President should withhold support from any proposed exemption for India in the NSG guidelines that is not fully consistent with the Hyde Act and that does not incorporate a number of key provisions, including: the immediate termination of all nuclear commerce by NSG member states if India detonates a nuclear explosive device or if the IAEA determines that India has violated its safeguards commitments; a requirement that the safeguards agreement concluded between India and the IAEA provides for safeguards in perpetuity for all nuclear facilities, materials, equipment and technology designated as “civil”, in accordance with IAEA standards, principles and practices; a prohibition on the transfer of enrichment, reprocessing and heavy water production technology by any NSG member state to India; and a stipulation that NSG supplier states may not grant India consent to reprocess nuclear fuel except in a facility that is under permanent and unconditional safeguards.
Berman also wrote that in order for the agreement to be fully considered by Congress, a final deal should be delayed until after the November elections. Reuters has more. From India, PTI has additional coverage.

The US and other nuclear powers have become increasingly accepting of India's nuclear program, but in May they cited Iran's program as a major threat to the goals of the NPT [JURIST report] in a joint statement [PDF text] issued at the end of a two-week meeting [official website] of 106 NPT member nations. The countries urged Iran, currently under UN sanctions for its nuclear program, to accept an incentive package [JURIST reports] in exchange for abandoning uranium enrichment. That statement also addressed the nuclear situation in North Korea [JURIST news archive], which opted out of the treaty in 2003 to restart disarmament negotiations. 

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