US has no intention to sell sensitive nuclear technology to India

Other News Materials 3 September 2008 21:49 (UTC +04:00)

The Bush administration has informed Congress it has no intention of selling sensitive nuclear technology to India and maintains the right to immediately end a cooperative agreement if New Dehli tests a nuclear weapon. ( dpa )

The US State Department sent a letter answering congressional inquiries about the nature of the nuclear cooperation pact signed in 2006. The pact has yet to be implemented pending the approval of Congress and a group of nations that sets the rules for trade in nuclear material and technology.

The letter was sent in January and remained a secret until the House Foreign Relations Committee released it on Tuesday. The Bush administration is hurrying to complete the deal before Congress goes into recess in about a month.

The State Department's letter said the agreement could allow the transfer of sensitive nuclear technology to India but it is not required and "as a matter of policy does not transfer (technology) for use in sensitive nuclear facilities."

President George W Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed the deal in May 2006 and the two sides entered complicated implementation negotiations to ensure US technology will be limited to use civilian energy reactors and not for weapons.

Some members of Congress have been sceptical of the plan because India is not a member of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The deal requires India to separate its military and civilian programmes and allow inspections of civilian facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nation's nuclear monitoring body.

The United States also must secure an agreement from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a 45-nation association that sets the rules in the nuclear exports.

The group is set to begin two days of meeting on Thursday in Vienna to consider that US request for an exemption from rules banning the trade of nuclear technology to countries not belonging to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Many countries in the NSG have raised concerns about the US request for the exemption because of India's status, and Singh has faced tough opposition at home to any provisions believed to diminish India's nuclear sovereignty.