48 Japanese NGOs today submitted a petition to Prime Minister Koizumi calling on the Japanese government to oppose lifting Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) restrictions on nuclear trade with India. Since NSG decisions are made by consensus, if Japan says "No", the sanctions will remain in place. For many reasons, including Japan's special position as the victim of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, opposition to the deal by Japan is likely to make it easier for other countries to voice their opposition too.
The petition, initiated by CNIC, was released at a press conference today in which representatives of the following groups presented their reasons for signing the petition:
Citizens' Nuclear Information Center
Femin Women's Democratic Club
Japan Congress Against A- and H-Bombs
Japan Council against A & H Bombs
Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations
National Christian Council In Japan, Peace and Nuclear Issues Committee
Stop the Monju Tokyo
We encourage groups and individuals outside of Japan to also lobby the Japanese government (e.g. letters to the Japanese Ambassador) about this issue. Click here for background information.
International Liaison Officer
We appeal to the Japanese government to resolutely oppose lifting Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) restrictions on nuclear trade with India for the following reasons:
1. In defiance of the global yearning for nuclear disarmament, India produced and tested nuclear weapons. Hitherto, India has followed its own path, pointing to the lack of effort towards nuclear disarmament on the part of the nuclear weapons states and to the inequality of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). However, as far as the international non-proliferation regime is concerned, there is no alternative to the NPT.
2. The proposed deal could send a dangerous message to other nuclear proliferators. Pakistan is already demanding the same treatment as India, while North Korea, Iran and other countries will conclude that if they once acquire nuclear weapons, eventually their possession of these weapons will gain international acceptance.
3. India is not a party to the NPT and it has not signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Furthermore, it has not joined the fissile material production moratorium and it has not played a constructive role in negotiations for a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT). For its part, the US has not ratified the CTBT and it too has not played a constructive role in FMCT negotiations. The House legislation promotes a moratorium on the production of fissile material and the implementation of the FMCT as US policy. However, it lacks binding force on these points. The Japanese government calls for the speedy implementation of the CTBT and the FMCT and the universal application of the NPT, but the existing circumstances in regard to these treaties are unlikely to change under the proposed deal.
4. Under the proposed deal, India will accept safeguards on some of its nuclear facilities, but many nuclear facilities will be declared "military" and thus remain outside the scope of these safeguards. India's fast breeder reactors, uranium enrichment facilities and reprocessing facilities, which are of particular significance for nuclear proliferation, will not be covered by safeguards. It will therefore remain possible to produce fissile material and nuclear weapons at these facilities.
5. The possible supply of nuclear fuel to India would, in fact, add to its nuclear weapons capabilities by freeing-up its existing and limited domestic capacity to produce highly enriched uranium and plutonium exclusively for weapons.
6. The devastation which resulted from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki gave Japan a deep insight into the inhumanity of nuclear weapons. This insight, gained through great suffering, confers upon Japan a special duty to work for non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. Japan must not stand idly by when the principles of non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament are trampled upon with such contempt.
On July 26, 2006 the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to exempt a proposed nuclear cooperation agreement with India from existing nuclear trade restrictions. The Senate is likely to pass similar legislation this Autumn. Before the nuclear cooperation agreement can become effective, the House legislation requires that the final text be submitted to Congress for approval.
The House legislation is a major step towards implementation of a July 18, 2005 joint statement by President Bush and Prime Minister Singh, in which President Bush promised to work to lift US and international restrictions on nuclear trade with India.
Since India does not have comprehensive International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards covering all its nuclear activities and facilities, nuclear trade with India requires exemption from the U.S. Atomic Energy Act of 1954 and also from the rules of the Nuclear Suppliers Group of countries (NSG). The House legislation provides exemption from the Atomic Energy Act subject to various conditions. One of the conditions is that the NSG must decide by consensus to permit supply to India of nuclear items covered by the guidelines of the NSG. That means lifting NSG restrictions on nuclear trade with India.
In order to be eligible for the exemption, the legislation also requires India to adopt certain nonproliferation measures. However, these measures fail to meet minimum nonproliferation standards. As shown in the following quote, the proposed agreement will, in fact, do great damage to the nonproliferation regime.
Twelve nuclear experts summed up the deal as follows in a letter to IAEA Director Mahomed ElBaradei:
"...the deal threatens to undermine the nonproliferation regime by granting India the benefits of civil nuclear commerce, while securing no meaningful constraint on the growth of India's nuclear weapons stockpile or requiring India to accept the equivalent of the nonproliferation obligations of Articles I and VI of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)."1
Two Indian and two Pakistani nuclear experts found that "the Bush-Singh proposal...would allow India not only to continue but also potentially to accelerate the buildup of its stockpile of weapons materials."2 They concluded that "the deal will enable India, should it choose to do so, to grow its stocks of weapons grade plutonium from the present rate of about 7 weapons worth a year to about 40-50 weapons worth a year." By giving India access to nuclear fuel from overseas, the proposed agreement will free up India's own limited supplies for use in nuclear weapons.
The legislation requires India to provide the U.S. and the IAEA with a credible plan to separate civil and military nuclear facilities, materials, and programs and to conclude a safeguards agreement with the IAEA. However, many key nuclear facilities will not be subject to safeguards.
Of India's 22 existing and under construction nuclear power reactors, it is proposed that only 14 will be subject to safeguards. However, 4 of India's existing reactors and 2 reactors which are under construction are from overseas and their supply was conditional upon the application of safeguards anyway. Hence safeguards will be applied to only 50% (8 out of 16) of India's indigenous reactors. India's plutonium producing military reactors and its fast breeder reactors will not be subject to safeguards. Its uranium enrichment and reprocessing facilities will also be exempt. Finally, India will retain the right to determine which future nuclear facilities it builds will be civilian and open to safeguards and which will not.
Clearly such a safeguards agreement will not prevent India from increasing its stock of nuclear weapons. Rather, it will enable India to continue to expand its supplies of unsafeguarded nuclear weapons material.
The other conditions that the House legislation imposes on India rely on subjective judgments, which will be made on the basis of the prevailing political circumstances. It can be expected that India's support for US geopolitical objectives in regard to Iran, Iraq and China, as well as its war against terror, will be prioritized over non-proliferation issues.
Japan's Influence as a Member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group
The Bush-Singh joint statement and the legislation being considered in Congress show a careless disregard for the NPT. They are likely to great damage to the international nonproliferation regime. Fortunately, there is still a chance for more prudent countries to influence the outcome.
The NSG must decide whether to permit nuclear trade with India. So far Japan has not indicated that it supports the US on this issue. Since NSG decisions are made by consensus, Japan's voice on the NSG carries great weight. Furthermore, if Japan takes a stand, other countries will be encouraged to follow Japan's example.
1. Experts Challenge IAEA Head's Statements on U.S.-Indian Nuclear Deal, July 24, 2006 "An Open Letter To Mohamed ElBaradei, Director-General, International Atomic Energy Agency"
2. "Fissile materials in South Asia and the implications of the U.S.-India nuclear deal: Draft report for the International Panel on Fissile Materials", by Z. Mian, A. H. Nayyar, R. Rajaraman and M.V. Ramana, 11 July 2006, pages 4,5.
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