April 17, 2006

India won’t commit to US on atomic testing

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India said on Monday it would make no
explicit commitment to the United States not to conduct fresh
nuclear tests as part of a landmark civilian atomic cooperation

New Delhi has refused to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty (CTBT), calling it discriminatory, but it did announce a
unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing after it conducted
atomic tests in 1998.

The civilian nuclear agreement was finalized when President
George W. Bush visited India last month.

But a draft of the deal framed since suggested that the
pact would be discontinued if India tested a nuclear device,
the Indian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"In preliminary discussions on these elements, India has
already conveyed to the U.S. that such a provision has no place
in the proposed bilateral agreement," the statement said.

"India is bound only by what is contained in the July 18
joint statement, that is, continuing its commitment to a
unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing," it said. This was an
agreement in principle on the deal reached when Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh visited Washington last year.

The U.S. Congress must approve legislation to seal the deal
and India has said that a decision by Congress to block it
would hit warming ties between the two countries.

Under the deal, energy-hungry India will receive U.S.
nuclear technology -- including reactors and nuclear fuel --
and in return separate its military and civilian facilities,
and open up some atomic plants to international inspections.

India has already made it clear that the pact would not
limit its nuclear weapons program.

Some analysts say Washington was attempting to get India to
commit indirectly to the CTBT's aims through the clause on
discontinuing nuclear cooperation if New Delhi tested a device