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Opposition to US-India Nuclear Cooperation Deal

Letter to the Japanese government from members and representatives of civil society groups and peoples' organizations from India and Pakistan

Zia Mian, of the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University and member of the International Panel on Fissile Materials, visited Japan from January 27th to February 4th to raise awareness of the US-India nuclear deal and the role Japan could play in preventing serious damage to the non-proliferation regime. He brought with him a letter to the Japanese government from members and representatives of civil society groups and peoples' organizations from India and Pakistan. The letter is reprinted below. Other actions that have been taken in Japan are mentioned at the bottom of this page.

1 February 2007
Dear Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Taro Aso

We are writing as members and representatives of civil society groups and peoples' organizations from India and Pakistan to urge you to consider how Japan could use its position as an important member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) of countries to inform the debate and decision-making within the NSG on the US-India nuclear deal.

To bring the US-India deal into force will require a decision by all the NSG member-states to exempt India from the international rules that govern nuclear trade. Since the Group works by consensus, each of the 45 NSG members (including Japan) must approve the deal. Such a decision would mark a historic shift in nonproliferation policy since the Nuclear Suppliers Group was, in large part, a response to India's use of a research reactor and reprocessing technology received under the Atoms for Peace Program to produce and separate the plutonium for its 1974 nuclear-weapon test.

We describe briefly here our concerns about the US-India deal. We focus in particular on how the deal may enable a significant increase in India's production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and incite a similar effort by Pakistan. Such actions would gravely worsen the India-Pakistan nuclear confrontation and add to the threat already faced by the people of both countries and the world.

In July 2005, U.S. President George Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh proposed that India have the right to import nuclear reactors and uranium for its nuclear power program. The July agreement required the United States to amend both its own laws and policies on nuclear technology transfer, and to work for changes in international controls on the supply of nuclear fuel and technology so as to allow "full civil nuclear energy cooperation and trade with India". In 2006, the US congress made the changes in its laws, and President Bush has signed the legislation.

For its part, India's government agreed to identify some of its nuclear facilities and programs as civilian and separate them from its nuclear weapons complex, and volunteer these civilian sites for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards in a phased manner by 2014.While India has declared a list of nuclear facilities that will be considered civilian, it has not yet reached an agreement with the IAEA on the appropriate safeguards.

The official list of facilities that would be declared civilian and open to safeguards includes only eight of India's indigenous power reactors that are either operating or under construction (India already has six reactors that are subject to safeguards because they were purchased from abroad). India's remaining eight power reactors, all its research reactors, and the plutonium-fuelled fast breeder reactor program are to be part of the military program and to be kept out of IAEA safeguards. India also claimed the right to classify as either civilian or military any future nuclear reactors that it might build.

A report for the International Panel on Fissile Materials (an independent group of nuclear experts from 15 countries) has estimated that this separation of nuclear facilities and the access to imports of uranium made possible by the deal will enable India, should it choose to do so, to increase 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 (available at

Pakistan has expressed its fears about the US-India nuclear deal. Pakistan's National Command Authority (NCA), chaired by President Pervez Musharraf, has declared that "In view of the fact the [U.S.-India] agreement would enable India to produce a significant quantity of fissile material and nuclear weapons from unsafeguarded nuclear reactors, the NCA expressed firm resolve that our credible minimum deterrence requirements will be met." This suggests a South Asian fissile material race may be imminent. Such a race would be both dangerous and costly, and set back the efforts for peace and development in South Asia.

We believe that the NSG should consider the US-India deal in the light of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1172 (6 June 1998). The Resolution, which was passed unanimously, calls upon India and Pakistan "immediately to stop their nuclear weapon development programmes, to refrain from weaponization or from the deployment of nuclear weapons, to cease development of ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons and any further production of fissile material for nuclear weapons." The Resolution also "encourages all States to prevent the export of equipment, materials or technology that could in any way assist programmes in India or Pakistan for nuclear weapons."

We urge Japan and all members of the NSG to require that any nuclear cooperation with India and Pakistan should meet the conditions laid out in UN Security Council Resolution 1172. At the very least, India and Pakistan should be required to suspend all further production of fissile materials for weapons purposes pending the negotiation and entry into force of a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty.

We ask that you share these concerns with other members of the NSG and to do what you can to ensure that the Indo-US nuclear agreement does not add to the dangers that already exist from nuclear weapons in South Asia.

A partial list of the signatories to this letter is below.

Cc: Speaker of the House of Representatives (Mr. Yohei Kono
President of the House of Councilors (Ms. Chikage Oogi)

Selected signatories, India
Dr. M. V. Ramana, Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Environment and Development, Bangalore
Achin Vanaik, Member, National Coordination Committee, Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP), New Delhi
Sukla Sen, Member, National Coordination Committee, Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP), Mumbai
Praful Bidwai, Movement in India for Nuclear Disarmament, New Delhi
J. Sriraman, Movement Against Nuclear Weapons, Chennai
Dr. Anna George, National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi
Vineeta Bal, Saheli Women's Resource Centre, New Delhi
Harsh Kapoor, South Asia Citizens Web
M.Muthukannu, Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), Puducherry
G.Sugumaran, Federation for People's Rights (FPR), Puducherry

Selected signatories, Pakistan
Dr. A. H. Nayyar, President, Pakistan Peace Coalition, Islamabad
B.M. Kutty, General Secretary, Pakistan Peace Coalition, Karachi,
Karamat Ali, Director, Pakistan Institute for Labour Economics and Research, (PILER), Karachi
Imtiaz Alam, Executive Director, South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA), Lahore
Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, Professor of Physics, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad
M. Ziauddin, Editor, Dawn, Karachi
Dr. Aly Ercelawn, Citizens' Alliance in Reforms for Efficient and Equitable Development (CREED), Karachi
Dr. Aly Ercelawn, Citizens' Alliance in Reforms for Efficient and Equitable Development (CREED), Karachi
Dr. Saba Gul Khattak, Executive Director, Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Islamabad
Aslam Khwaja, Pakistan Social Forum, Hyderabad
Anwar Abbas, Habib Education Trust, Karachi

Other actions
The US-India nuclear deal has not attracted the attention in Japan that it has in the US and India, but the recognition that Japan can play a key role as a member of the NSG is gradually spreading. Questions have been raised in the Diet and the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have both written to the Prime Minister expressing their concern. On March 6th, Saga Prefectural Assembly agreed unanimously to send a letter to the government expressing its concern about the potential for the deal to provoke a nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan and calling on Japan to play a leadership role in the debate at the NSG. Other prefectures and local authorities are considering sending similar letters.

We are aware of various moves by NGOs to influence the international debate, particularly in NSG countries. CNIC will co-sponsor a meeting on May 4th during the 2007 NPT Preparatory Committee in Vienna. The meeting is entitled "The US-India Nuclear Deal and the Future of the NPT: a Role for the Nuclear Suppliers Group?" We hope the meeting will be a rallying point for NGOs around the world who are concerned about this issue.

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