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"A Gaping Hole in the Non-Proliferation Treaty"

Disarmament network deplores decision of the Nuclear Suppliers Group

The US-India Deal Working Group of the international disarmament network, ABOLITION 2000(1),  deplores the decision of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to approve a special exemption for India from its nuclear trade rules.

The exemption will allow India to participate in international nuclear trade, but, contrary to the claims of its advocates, it will not bring India further into conformity with the nonproliferation behavior expected of the member states of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Unlike 178 other countries, India has not signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). It continues to produce fissile material and expand its nuclear arsenal. As one of only three states never to have signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it has not made a legally-binding commitment to achieve nuclear disarmament, and it refuses to allow comprehensive, full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

The decision by these 45 states creates a dangerous distinction between "good" proliferators and "bad" proliferators and sends out misleading signals to the international community with regard to NPT norms. Furthermore, it was inappropriate for the member states of the NSG to take it upon themselves to make a decision on this matter for the 140-plus other members of the NPT.

A handful of countries sought to prevent this decision, but they were subjected to intense pressure by the US, India and other states. As Jayantha Dhanapala, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General (1998-2003) and President of the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, said in an appeal issued via the US-India Deal Working Group on September 6 before the NSG's decision,

"Brutal and unconscionable pressure has been exerted on the few countries who opposed the US-India draft at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) meeting in Vienna..."
Ambassador Dhanapala appealed to these countries and to all others in the NSG "to remain faithful to the principles of the NPT in the face of nuclear weapons states interests and the commercial profit motives of nuclear technology and materials exporters."

He said, "A gaping hole is being created in the NPT, which Israel and Pakistan will drive through unless the US Congress or a new US Administration revise the proposed deal ensuring the survival of the NPT beyond 2010."

We are shocked that no governments had the courage to remain faithful to the last, to defend the nuclear non-proliferation system, which is under threat from so many quarters. The NSG operates by consensus, so any one of these governments could have blocked the deal.

We fear that the world could live to regret the day when no government had the courage to block this foolish initiative of US President George Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The NSG's decision did not make the task of creating a world without nuclear weapons any easier. Nevertheless, the determination of the nuclear Abolition movement remains firm. We will not be distracted from our vision.


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