July 19, 2005

Singh: India will not spread nuclear technology

By Paul Eckert

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - India upholds nuclear
nonproliferation rules and will never spread sensitive
technology, its prime minister said on Tuesday, a day after the
United States promised to help the South Asian power develop
its civilian atomic sector.

"India's track record in nuclear nonproliferation is
impeccable," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at a joint
session of the U.S. Congress. "We have adhered scrupulously to
every rule and canon in this area."

India, which tested a nuclear weapon in 1998, has not
signed the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and is in an arms
race with Pakistan. However, it has agreed to accept voluntary
commitments to some elements of the nonproliferation regimes.

Singh addressed U.S. lawmakers a day after President Bush,
in a dramatic reversal of decades-old policy, said he would ask
Congress to change U.S. law and work with allies to adjust
international rules to allow nuclear trade with India.

Washington had barred providing atomic technology to India
because of New Delhi's status as a nuclear power that has
refused to sign the NPT, which was designed to halt the spread
of nuclear weapons.

The policy shift, which underscored Washington's
recognition of India as a rising power and potential
counterweight to China, drew sharp criticism from members of
Congress. Some vowed to push legislation to block the change.

Proliferation experts raised strong concerns that expanding
U.S. cooperation with India would undercut U.S. efforts to
press Iran and North Korea from halting their nuclear arms
ambitions. Iran denies it is trying to build bombs, while North
Korea declared itself a nuclear armed power in February.

Singh told senators and congressmen India was "fully
conscious of the immense responsibilities that come with the
possession of advanced technologies, both civilian and

"We have never been, and never will be, a source of
proliferation of sensitive technologies," he said.