Friday, December 8, 2006
CONTACT: Paul Leventhal 202-822-8444

US nuclear deal with India threatens to unravel nuclear controls and to spread the bomb worldwide, warns NCI's Leventhal

Washington-- The Nuclear Control Institute today released the following statement by Paul Leventhal, founding president of the Nuclear Control Institute, on Congressional approval of a bill to waive US law and international controls to permit a deeply flawed nuclear deal with India:

Congress, by enabling a deeply flawed U.S. nuclear deal with India, is sacrificing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and U.S. nuclear law on an altar of expediency. The assumption is that cementing good relations with India is far more important than preserving controls to halt the further spread of nuclear weapons.  India has defied those controls from the start.  Now we're likely to see a rapid unraveling of resolve that will put nuclear weapons in the hands of more nations and eventually terrorists, too.

The most distressing and dangerous element of the upcoming US-India nuclear agreement is the blind eye both Congress and the White House have turned toward India's most audacious nuclear violation.  From 1960 to the present day, India has been using the world's first Atoms for Peace reactor exclusively for producing plutonium for weapons.  India signed "peaceful use only" contracts with Canada and the United States which supplied India the CIRUS research reactor and the heavy water needed to make it run.

India has agreed to shut down the reactor in 2010, and India's well-heeled lobbyists have spread enough money around Congress to convince members that shutdown solves the problem.  But there remains the matter of all the plutonium produced by the reactor, all of which has gone into most of India's warheads. The U.S. has not demanded that India place this plutonium or an equivalent amount from other uninspected stocks under the authority of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to ensure civilian use.

In 1976, the Senate uncovered that India had used CIRUS plutonium for its 1974 nuclear test.  This sparked an outcry that resulted in enactment of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Act of 1978, barring further nuclear exports to India until India accepted international inspections on its entire nuclear program. The law's key provision---fullscope IAEA safeguards as a condition of nuclear supply---was eventually adopted by the Nuclear Suppliers Group as a bulwark for the NPT.  It is this law and the NPT regime that are now being trashed to make possible the nuclear deal with India.

They must be chuckling in New Delhi, not to mention Pyongyang and Tehran, that India is getting its deal and keeping its "Atoms-for-Peace" plutonium for weapons, too.  But as we will soon learn the hard way, this is no laughing matter.


[Note to editors: Leventhal, as a US Senate staffer in 1976, uncovered that India had used plutonium from an Atoms for Peace reactor supplied by the United States and Canada for its first nuclear test in 1974. This disclosure led to enactment of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Act of 1978 and its key provision requiring full-scope safeguards as a condition of nuclear supply.  This provision eventually was adapted as an international norm by the Nuclear Suppliers Group.]