International community split over U.S.-India nuclear deal
Nations participating in the Nuclear Suppliers Group summit will debate whether the deal undermines efforts towards nuclear nonproliferation and sets a precedent for other would-be nuclear powers.
A controversial US-India nuclear energy deal is expected to face a stiff challenge later this week from countries that adamantly oppose nuclear proliferation.Skip to next paragraph
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The deal, finalized by Washington and New Delhi in August 2007, would lift a 34-year embargo on the transfer of nuclear material to India, thereby allowing it access to foreign nuclear technology and supplies. The deal is seen as a strategic move on the part of the United States to cement relations with its booming democratic partner in Asia and counterbalance China's rise.
But critics say the deal will roll back decades of efforts to limit the global spread of nuclear materials and create a dangerous precedent for other would-be nuclear powers such as Iran.
Despite fierce lobbying by the US and India to push the deal through, several holdouts – including New Zealand, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, and Norway – could still scuttle the plan. Those countries are members of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which meets in Vienna on Thursday and must reach consensus on the deal for it to pass.
If the group does approve the plan, it will then pass to the US Congress for final approval later this year.
The Times of India quoted the New Zealand minister for disarmament and arms control, Phil Goff, as saying his country "has not arrived at a final position" on whether to approve the deal, but "like a number of countries, we do have reservations." In an interview with the paper he said:
"New Zealand, as a strong advocate of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, puts a priority on a robust nuclear non-proliferation regime. India is one of only three countries that remain outside of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.... We don't agree with either India's testing of nuclear weapons or its continued possession of those weapons."
India says it wants to implement the deal to help meet rapidly growing energy needs with more nuclear power. But critics say imports could also be used to ramp up its nuclear weapons program, thereby accelerating an atomic arms race with neighboring rival Pakistan.
Diplomats have said that several NSG nations are unlikely to approve an exemption unless it makes clear certain events – such as India testing a nuclear bomb or not allowing inspections at its nuclear facilities – would trigger a review.