India test-fires nuclear-capable missile

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NEW DELHI (AP) — India test-fired a medium-range, nuclear-capable missile Wednesday from a land-based launcher in eastern India, a defense ministry official said.

The weapon tested was a K-15 missile, an undersea submarine-launched ballistic missile with a range of up to 435 miles, said the officer on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

It was fired from a test range in Chandipur in eastern Orissa state, nearly 700 miles southeast of New Delhi.

Issues: Nuclear Weapons, Waste & Energy

Issues: Nuclear Weapons, Waste & Energy

The Consequences of Nuclear Conflict between India and Pakistan
NRDC’s nuclear experts think about the unthinkable, using state-of-the-art nuclear war simulation software to assess the crisis in South Asia.

The months-long military standoff between India and Pakistan intensified several weeks ago when suspected Islamic militants killed more than 30 people at an Indian base in the disputed territory of Kashmir. As U.S. diplomatic pressure to avert war intensifies, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is going to India and Pakistan this week to discuss with his South Asian counterparts the results of a classified Pentagon study that concludes that a nuclear war between these countries could result in 12 million deaths.

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) has conducted its own analysis of the consequences of nuclear war in South Asia. Prior to this most recent crisis we calculated two nuclear scenarios. The first assumes 10 Hiroshima-sized explosions with no fallout; the second assumes 24 nuclear explosions with significant radioactive fallout. Below is a discussion of the two scenarios in detail and an exploration of several additional issues regarding nuclear war in South Asia.
Indian and Pakistani Nuclear Forces

It is difficult to determine the actual size and composition of India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals, but NRDC estimates that both countries have a total of 50 to 75 weapons. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, we believe India has about 30 to 35 nuclear warheads, slightly fewer than Pakistan, which may have as many as 48.

Both countries have fission weapons, similar to the early designs developed by the United States in the late 1940s and early 1950s. NRDC estimates their explosive yields are 5 to 25 kilotons (1 kiloton is equivalent to 1,000 tons of TNT). By comparison, the yield of the weapon the United States exploded over Hiroshima was 15 kilotons, while the bomb exploded over Nagasaki was 21 kilotons. According to a recent NRDC discussion with a senior Pakistani military official, Pakistan’s main nuclear weapons are mounted on missiles. India’s nuclear weapons are reportedly gravity bombs deployed on fighter aircraft.

NRDC’s Nuclear Program initially developed the software used to calculate the consequences of a South Asian nuclear war to examine and analyze the U.S. nuclear war planning process. We combined Department of Energy and Department of Defense computer codes with meteorological and demographic data to model what would happen in various kinds of attacks using different types of weapons. Our June 2001 report, “The U.S. Nuclear War Plan: A Time for Change,” is available at
Scenario: 10 Bombs on 10 South Asian Cities

For our first scenario we used casualty data from the Hiroshima bomb to estimate what would happen if bombs exploded over 10 large South Asian cities: five in India and five in Pakistan. (The results were published in “The Risks and Consequences of Nuclear War in South Asia,” by NRDC physicist Matthew McKinzie and Princeton scientists Zia Mian, A. H. Nayyar and M. V. Ramana, a chapter in Smitu Kothari and Zia Mian (editors), “Out of the Nuclear Shadow” (Dehli: Lokayan and Rainbow Publishers, 2001).)

The 15-kiloton yield of the Hiroshima weapon is approximately the size of the weapons now in the Indian and Pakistani nuclear arsenals. The deaths and severe injuries experienced at Hiroshima were mainly a function of how far people were from ground zero. Other factors included whether people were in buildings or outdoors, the structural characteristics of the buildings themselves, and the age and health of the victims at the time of the attack. The closer to ground zero, the higher fatality rate. Further away there were fewer fatalities and larger numbers of injuries. The table below summarizes the first nuclear war scenario by superimposing the Hiroshima data onto five Indian and five Pakistan cities with densely concentrated populations.

Estimated nuclear casualties for attacks on 10 large Indian and Pakistani cities
City Name Total Population Within 5 Kilometers of Ground Zero Number of Persons Killed Number of Persons Severely Injured Number of Persons Slightly Injured
Bangalore 3,077,937 314,978 175,136 411,336
Bombay 3,143,284 477,713 228,648 476,633
Calcutta 3,520,344 357,202 198,218 466,336
Madras 3,252,628 364,291 196,226 448,948
New Delhi 1,638,744 176,518 94,231 217,853
Total India 14,632,937 1,690,702 892,459 2,021,106
Faisalabad 2,376,478 336,239 174,351 373,967
Islamabad 798,583 154,067 66,744 129,935
Karachi 1,962,458 239,643 126,810 283,290
Lahore 2,682,092 258,139 149,649 354,095
Rawalpindi 1,589,828 183,791 96,846 220,585
Total Pakistan 9,409,439 1,171,879 614,400 1,361,872
India and Pakistan
Total 24,042,376 2,862,581 1,506,859 3,382,978

As in the case of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in this scenario the 10 bombs over Indian and Pakistani cities would be exploded in the air, which maximized blast damage and fire but creates no fallout. On August 6, 1945, the United States exploded an untested uranium-235 gun-assembly bomb, nicknamed “Little Boy,” 1,900 feet above Hiroshima. The city was home to an estimated 350,000 people; about 140,000 died by the end of the year. Three days later, at 11:02 am, the United States exploded a plutonium implosion bomb nicknamed “Fat Man” 1,650 feet above Nagasaki. About 70,000 of the estimated 270,000 residents died by the end of the year.

Ten Hiroshima-size explosions over 10 major cities in India and Pakistan would kill as many as three to four times more people per bomb than in Japan because of the higher urban densities in Indian and Pakistani cities.
Scenario: 24 Ground Bursts

In January, NRDC calculated the consequences of a much more severe nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan. It first appeared as a sidebar in the January 14, 2002, issue of Newsweek (“A Face-Off with Nuclear Stakes”). This scenario calculated the consequences of 24 nuclear explosions detonated on the ground — unlike the Hiroshima airburst — resulting in significant amounts of lethal radioactive fallout.

Exploding a nuclear bomb above the ground does not produce fallout. For example, the United States detonated “Little Boy” weapon above Hiroshima at an altitude of 1,900 feet. At this height, the radioactive particles produced in the explosion were small and light enough to rise into the upper atmosphere, where they were carried by the prevailing winds. Days to weeks later, after the radioactive bomb debris became less “hot,” these tiny particles descended to earth as a measurable radioactive residue, but not at levels of contamination that would cause immediate radiation sickness or death.

Unfortunately, it is easier to fuse a nuclear weapon to detonate on impact than it is to detonate it in the air — and that means fallout. If the nuclear explosion takes place at or near the surface of the earth, the nuclear fireball would gouge out material and mix it with the radioactive bomb debris, producing heavier radioactive particles. These heavier particles would begin to drift back to earth within minutes or hours after the explosion, producing potentially lethal levels of nuclear fallout out to tens or hundreds of kilometers from the ground zero. The precise levels depend on the explosive yield of the weapon and the prevailing winds.

For the second scenario, we calculated the fallout patterns and casualties for a hypothetical nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan in which each country targeted major cities. We chose target cities throughout Pakistan and in northwestern India to take into account the limited range of Pakistani missiles or aircraft. The target cities, listed in the table below, include the capitals of Islamabad and New Dehli, and large cities, such as Karachi and Bombay. In this scenario, we assumed that a dozen, 25-kiloton warheads would be detonated as ground bursts in Pakistan and another dozen in India, producing substantial fallout.

The devastation that would result from fallout would exceed that of blast and fire. NRDC’s second scenario would produce far more horrific results than the first scenario because there would be more weapons, higher yields, and extensive fallout. In some large cities, we assumed more than one bomb would be used.

15 Indian and Pakistani cities attacked with 24 nuclear warheads
Country City City Population Number of
Attacking Bombs
Pakistan Islamabad (national capital) 100-250 thousand 1
Pakistan Karachi (provincial capital) > 5 million 3
Pakistan Lahore (provincial capital) 1-5 million 2
Pakistan Peshawar (provincial capital) 0.5-1 million 1
Pakistan Quetta (provincial capital) 250-500 thousand 1
Pakistan Faisalabad 1-5 million 2
Pakistan Hyderabad 0.5-1 million 1
Pakistan Rawalpindi 0.5-1 million 1
India New Dehli (national capital) 250-500 thousand 1
India Bombay (provincial capital) > 5 million 3
India Delhi (provincial capital) > 5 million 3
India Jaipur (provincial capital) 1-5 million 2
India Bhopal (provincial capital) 1-5 million 1
India Ahmadabad 1-5 million 1
India Pune 1-5 million 1

NRDC calculated that 22.1 million people in India and Pakistan would be exposed to lethal radiation doses of 600 rem or more in the first two days after the attack. Another 8 million people would receive a radiation dose of 100 to 600 rem, causing severe radiation sickness and potentially death, especially for the very young, old or infirm. NRDC calculates that as many as 30 million people would be threatened by the fallout from the attack, roughly divided between the two countries.

Besides fallout, blast and fire would cause substantial destruction within roughly a mile-and-a-half of the bomb craters. NRDC estimates that 8.1 million people live within this radius of destruction.

Most Indians (99 percent of the population) and Pakistanis (93 percent of the population) would survive the second scenario. Their respective military forces would be still be intact to continue and even escalate the conflict.
Thinking the Unthinkable

After India and Pakistan held nuclear tests in 1998, experts have debated whether their nuclear weapons contribute to stability in South Asia. Experts who argue that the nuclear standoff promotes stability have pointed to the U.S.-Soviet Union Cold War as an example of how deterrence ensures military restraint.

NRDC disagrees. There are major differences between the Cold War and the current South Asian crisis. Unlike the U.S.-Soviet experience, these two countries have a deep-seated hatred of one another and have fought three wars since both countries became independent. At least part of the current crisis may be seen as Hindu nationalism versus Muslim fundamentalism.

A second difference is India and Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals are much smaller than those of the United States and Russia. The U.S. and Russian arsenals truly represent the capability to destroy each other’s society beyond recovery. While the two South Asia scenarios we have described produce unimaginable loss of life and destruction, they do not reach the level of “mutual assured destruction” that stood as the ultimate deterrent during the Cold War.

The two South Asian scenarios assume nuclear attacks against cities. During the early Cold War period this was the deterrent strategy of the United States and the Soviet Union. But as both countries introduced technological improvements into their arsenals, they pursued other strategies, targeting each other’s nuclear forces, conventional military forces, industry and leadership. India and Pakistan may include these types of targets in their current military planning. For example, attacking large dams with nuclear weapons could result in massive disruption, economic consequences and casualties. Concentrations of military forces and facilities may provide tempting targets as well.

Related NRDC Pages
The U.S. Nuclear War Plan: A Time for Change
Bush-Putin Treaty Will Prolong Nuclear Standoff

US-India nuclear deal violates NPT

US-India nuclear deal violates NPT
01:54:21 È.Ù
Deputy head of IRI’s Atomic Energy Organization Mohammad Saeedi on Sunday expressed concern about America-India nuclear deal saying the deal has violated the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

He said the countries which are not members of the NPT cannot make use of the privileges of the treaty. The method used by several nuclear states to transfer the technology to non-members of the NPT, will create new crises for the international community, he added.

According to the NPT, only signatories to the treaty can make use of the rights mentioned in the treaty, Saeedi noted.

Cooperation in the area of transfer of nuclear technology to the NPT non-members will endanger the treaty, he said, adding that although India is enjoying nuclear weapons it is not a signatory to the NPT treaty.

American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in India Saturday to showcase a historic bilateral nuclear deal, but last-minute hitches raised doubts that the pact would be signed on her trip.

A signing delay would be another bump in a three-year rollercoaster for an agreement aimed at lifting a ban on America-Indian civilian nuclear trade imposed after India’s first nuclear test in 1974.

Both houses of the American Congress voted in favor of the landmark nuclear deal this week, but President George W. Bush has yet to sign it into law.

The deal offers India access to sophisticated America technology and cheap atomic energy in return for New Delhi allowing UN inspections of some of its civilian nuclear facilities.

India, France set to sign nuclear agreement

G Sudhakar Nair
Marseilles (France), Sept 29 (PTI) India and France are poised to ink a landmark civil nuclear deal similar to the one with the United States, which will be the first such agreement to be initialled by any country with New Delhi signalling an end to its 34-year-old nuclear apartheid.

Though Indian officials said that the Indo-French Nuclear Cooperation Agreement is expected to be signed soon, France gave its clear indications that it will be inked during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Paris tomorrow for talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Sarkozy had told PTI that the prospects of cooperation between France and India in the civil nuclear field are “very promising” considering his country’s expertise, long tradition of cooperation with New Delhi and an atmosphere of trust.

India and France had initialled the Framework Agreement for Civil Nuclear Cooperation in January but could not sign it pending a waiver from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group. Now that the NSG has given its nod, New Delhi and Paris are free to sign the agreement during Singh’s visit to Paris.

The framework agreement was inked during Sarkozy’s visit to India in January this year.

“We have already initialled the framework agreement in civil nuclear matters. It will certainly come up for review and possible signature during my visit,” Singh told reporters yesterday when asked whether he expected the nuclear agreement to be signed during his two-day tour to Paris. PTI

India-US in last nuclear push

India-US in last nuclear push

Manmohan Singh

PM Manmohan Singh has described the nuclear deal as “momentous”

Indian PM Manmohan Singh is due to
meet US President George Bush amid frantic efforts to win US
Congressional support for the two countries’ nuclear deal.

The controversial accord needs to be pushed through Congress
before lawmakers conclude this year’s session to campaign for
November’s elections.

Correspondents say its ratification will be a complicated process.

US officials hope Congress will approve the deal before the leaders meet later on Thursday in Washington, reports say.

Congress is due to go into recess at the end of this week.

Time running out

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the bill on
Tuesday, but there are still several steps to be taken before it can be
passed and signed.

The bill has not so far been presented on the floor of the Senate or the House of Representatives.

India's Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, located 30km from Mumbai (Bombay)

The deal would give India access to US civilian nuclear technology

Last-minute attempts to ratify the bill have been made more
complicated because it was presented late to Congress, which is also
debating a critical $700bn bank bailout plan, in addition to numerous
other important measures before it shuts down for the year.

Correspondents say that the Bush administration needs the help
of the Democrats – who control both houses of Congress – to over-ride a
law that says Congress must wait 30 working days after receiving a bill
before it can ratify it.

The House and the Senate must pass and send identical bills to
President Bush for the deal to go through before a new administration
takes office in January.

The Bush administration submitted the deal to Congress on 10
September, but that did not leave enough time for its ratification
before the election break without a change in the law.

Correspondents say it will be a race against time if Prime
Minister Singh and President Bush sign the deal – first agreed three
years ago – and regarded as a key foreign policy priority for both the
Indian and US governments.


American lawmakers are now reported to be looking at “all
options” to get Congressional approval for the accord, perhaps as part
of another bill.

Earlier this month, the Nuclear Suppliers Group lifted a ban
that had stopped India from getting access to the global nuclear

India says the deal with the US is vital for it to meet its civil energy demands.

But critics say it creates a dangerous precedent – effectively
allowing India to expand its nuclear power industry without requiring
it to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as other nations must.

They say the deal would undermine the arguments for isolating
Iran over its nuclear programme and be a disaster for international
non-proliferation efforts.

The agreement is the centrepiece of US efforts to bolster ties with India.

The US restricted nuclear co-operation with India after it tested a nuclear weapon in 1974.

India-Uranium Smuggling

India-Uranium Smuggling /WRD/

5 people smuggling Uranium arrested in India’s N-E Meghalaya

state Guwahati, India, Sept 12 — Police in India’s northeastern state of Meghalaya arrested five people, including a tribal village headman, on charges of smuggling uranium, officials said.

A police spokesman said the arrests were made after they found a packet containing some powdery substance from a village headman at Mairang in the West Khasi Hills district, about 40 km from state capital Shillong.

“We seized the packet from the possession of the village headman and took him to custody and later arrested four other people in the same case,” police chief of the West Khasi Hills district M Kharkrang said by telephone.

The packet bore a printed inscription of the Indian Atomic Energy Department.

“We are in the lookout for some more people,” the police official said.

Samples of the seized packet have been sent for laboratory tests.

Police officials are in touch with Atomic Energy officials based in Meghalaya capital Shillong.

If the forensic results prove that the powdery substance is enriched uranium and stolen from the Atomic Energy, then it is a very serious thing, another senior police official investigating the case said.

Atomic Energy department officials in Shillong were not immediately available for comments.

Police in May arrested five people for allegedly possessing a kilogram of uranium which they tried to sell at a whopping Rs 2.6 million with almost the same inscriptions like the seizure made Tuesday.

According to surveys by India’s Atomic Energy Department, there could be up to 3,75,000 tonnes of uranium in Meghalaya’s Domiasiat area – by far the largest and richest sandstone-type deposits available in the country.

The ores are spread over a mountainous terrain in deposits varying from eight to 47 meters from the surface in and around Domiasiat, 135 kilometer west of Shillong.

After initial operations, the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) was forced to wind up mining in the mid-90s following a string of violent opposition from villagers and other pressure groups in Meghalaya, whose alleged emission of radioactive uranium was posing serious health hazards.

Uranium is an important mineral ore for making nuclear weapons, with experts saying the untapped reserve at Domiasiat could be a potential resource for India’s nuclear research programme.

India arrests for ‘uranium theft’

India arrests for ‘uranium theft’

By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

Photo by Anirban Roy

Local objections have stopped mining from officially starting

Police in the north-eastern Indian state of Meghalaya say they have arrested five people on charges of smuggling uranium ore.

Only one packet of unprocessed uranium was found on them, but the police say the gang could have stolen more.

It is not clear how much ore the group had, or what it planned to do with it.

The arrests are at an embarrassing time for India, just days after the Nuclear Suppliers Group ended a ban on civilian nuclear trade with the country.

Indian officials had worked hard to persuade members of the group, which governs global trade in nuclear components, that its nuclear industry was in safe hands.

Uranium is the basic fuel for nuclear weapons, but it has to go through complex processes before it it is sufficiently enriched for use.


Police are not sure whether those detained were part of an organised global enterprise, or simply some amateurs, trying to make some quick money.

The seizure was made in the village of Mairang on Monday when police detained four people, including a village headman, for stealing a quantity of uranium.

A fifth man surrendered to the police on Tuesday after police carried out a search of the area.

“We seized a packet, just one packet, containing uranium ore from a village headman. It has the seal of India’s Atomic Minerals Division, so we are taking this very seriously,” said M Kharkrang, police superintendent of West Khasi Hills district in Meghalaya.

Mr Khakrang said they were looking for the son of an employee of the Atomic Minerals Division – , which looks after the country’s uranium mines – who is alleged to have stolen the packet from Domiosiat.

“The young man is still absconding,” he said.

In May this year, police in Meghalaya arrested five people for stealing uranium ore.

Others have been arrested in the past for trying to smuggle uranium out of the state.

“But we don’t know yet whether this is an organised racket. It could well be and we may have not yet found the kingpins,” Mr Khakrang said.

Proposed mines

Early in the 1990s, India’s Atomic Minerals Division discovered huge deposits of uranium at Domiosiat and Wakkhaji in the West Khasi Hills.

The Indian government announced in January it wanted to open cast mine 375,000 tonnes of uranium ore annually in the area.

But mining has been unable to start so far because of objections from local tribes people who fear radiation contamination.

Officials say the proposed mines contain 16% of India’s known uranium deposits.

India is desperate for enriched uranium to boost its nuclear power generation.

It recently signed a controversial accord with the US under which it will receive civilian nuclear fuel and technology. The deal now awaits approval from the US Congress.

Atomic Club Votes to End Restrictions on India

Published: September 6, 2008

The worldwide body that regulates the sale of nuclear fuel and technology approved a landmark deal on Saturday to allow India to engage in nuclear trade for the first time in three decades, after a pressure campaign by the Bush administration and despite concerns about setting off an arms race in Asia.

Only one hurdle now remains for the deal: final approval by the United States Congress. But passage is likely to be difficult, considering both political opposition and dwindling time in the Congressional calendar before November’s elections.

If the agreement ultimately goes through, it would stand as a symbol of the deepening strategic ties between the United States and India, seen as a potential balancing power to a rising China. It would also be enormously lucrative for sellers of nuclear fuel and technology all over the world; India plans to import at least eight nuclear reactors by 2012, according to projections by the State Department.

State Department officials were ecstatic about the vote Saturday by the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, or N.S.G. “I don’t think a lot of people thought we’d be able to get this through the N.S.G. this weekend,” said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was in Algiers.

Both President Bush and the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, have cast the nuclear agreement as a legacy issue. The White House said the two leaders spoke to each other on Saturday.

Indian and American proponents of the deal hailed Saturday’s agreement as a historic opportunity to meet India’s growing energy demands and allow New Delhi to come into what Mr. Singh called “the nuclear mainstream.” Its critics warned that such a sweeping exemption for India, which has developed an atomic weapons program but steadfastly refused to sign the global nonproliferation treaty, sets a dangerous precedent.

Several members of the N.S.G. had in recent days proposed several amendments that would terminate nuclear trade and the sale of secret technologies if India conducts more nuclear tests. The Bush administration had pressed N.S.G. members not to impose such restrictions on India. The exact terms of the agreement were unclear on Saturday night.

Because any agreement requires consensus among the member nations, administration officials had to lean hard on the holdouts, principally Austria, China, and New Zealand.

Ms. Rice made at least two dozen calls over the last two days to push allies to allow for the India-specific waiver, as she traveled across North Africa, according to administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. They said she also called the Chinese foreign minister early Saturday morning to urge Beijing not to block the deal.

After three days of fierce debates in Vienna, where they met, the N.S.G. approved the accord. It allows India to buy nuclear fuel and technology for its civilian nuclear power program. India has already agreed to separate civilian reactors from those used in its strategic nuclear weapons program. It has also agreed to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect the reactors used in its energy program.

Although a senior State Department official said the White House has only two weeks to get the deal through Congress, Ms. Rice told reporters traveling with her that she had been talking to Congressional leaders and was hopeful it could be done.

Representative Howard L. Berman, a California Democrat who is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in an interview on Saturday that he would not consider any expedited timetable for considering the agreement until the Bush administration provides him with more information about the negotiations in Vienna.

Mr. Berman said that he wants to check that the Bush administration did not cut any side deals with N.S.G. member countries to get their votes. He wants to ensure, for instance, that the United States did not say any countries could sell nuclear technology to India that the United States is currently prohibited from selling.

Ultimately, he said, the burden was on the White House to convince Congress that the nuclear pact needed to be authorized in a “rushed” fashion.

Indian advocates for the deal were elated.

“Most countries have realized the logic of the United States in arguing that it is better to have India inside the tent instead of treating India as an outcast,” said Lalit Mansingh, a retired Indian ambassador to the United States.

Indians were celebrating Saturday night: small groups of revelers set off fireworks in honor of the deal in the nation’s capital, and groups gathered to dance outside the headquarters of Mr. Singh’s Congress Party.

A deal is considered important for India’s continued economic growth and increased demand for electricity. Since it conducted its first nuclear test decades ago, India has not been able to buy nuclear fuel or technology on the world market.

The country is now running short of uranium for existing nuclear reactors because it does not have enough of a domestic supply to feed them. India’s leaders also want to substantially grow the civilian power program.

But even in India, the deal has been dogged by intense political opposition, so much so that Mr. Singh’s opponents sought to bring down his government this year over this issue.

They have said the agreement would impinge on India’s right to advance its strategic weapons program. The United States has said that it could stop supplying nuclear fuel if India conducts a weapons test.

On Saturday, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party assailed the deal as a “nonproliferation trap.” In defense, Mr. Singh’s government has said India can do what it wants with its weapons program, and that if India tests another weapon, the United States can decide whether it will cut off nuclear trade. In practical terms, officials and analysts in both countries acknowledge that the United States reaction would depend, in large part, on how and when India tests. If it came on the heels of tests by Pakistan or China, New Delhi hopes that American officials might be persuaded to feel that India was facing a threat and needed to move its nuclear program forward.

Under current law, Congress must be in session a full 30 days to consider the nuclear deal. Congressional officials said Saturday that the White House might be able to work with lawmakers to circumvent this provision and expedite a vote.

A potentially more significant hurdle for the White House is that a Democratic Congress might not want to give President Bush a significant victory during his waning days in office. White House officials have long hoped that the deal could be part of Mr. Bush’s foreign policy legacy.

Lawmakers in late 2006 voted overwhelmingly to support the White House’s plan to sell the civilian reactors to India, but that was when Congress was still in Republican hands. Congress granted provisional approval at that time and was required to vote again after a nod from the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Representative Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat and a vocal opponent of the deal, said in a statement on Saturday that with only a few weeks left in the Congressional session, “It is highly questionable whether such a complex and controversial agreement can be thoroughly examined before the House and Senate adjourn for the elections.”

Still, even some opponents of the deal acknowledged that should the White House manage to force a vote in September, the pact was likely to be approved.

Representative Ellen O. Tauscher, a California Democrat, said by telephone on Saturday that the nuclear agreement was a “very, very bad deal,” but said that since the 2006 vote indicated that a large part of the House of Representatives was inclined to approve the pact and that it would be difficult to scuttle the deal at this point.

In the end, if the deal is approved, India will be forced to decide what kind of nuclear program it aspires to develop. If it wants to be a major nuclear power in the world — significantly increasing the country’s arsenal and improving its sophistication — India has to conduct tests sooner rather than later, and face the potential consequences, said Stephen Cohen, a South Asia specialist at Brookings Institution.

Or it could actively negotiate with its rivals, Pakistan and China, to negotiate what he called a “nuclear restraint agreement.”

“This is the time for the Indian government to declare what kind of nuke capability they will have and negotiate with the other Asian powers to avoid a nuclear arms race,” Mr. Cohen said.

Somini Sengupta reported from New York, and Mark Mazzetti from Washington. Helene Cooper contributed reporting from Algiers, and Heather Timmons from New Delhi.

India Wins Accord to End 34-Year Ban on Nuclear Trade (Update3)

India Wins Accord to End 34-Year Ban on Nuclear Trade (Update3)

By Jonathan Tirone and Viola Gienger

Sept. 6 (Bloomberg) — India won the right to buy atomic- energy equipment after a suppliers’ group lifted a three-decade ban on exports to the country, swayed by promises that the nation will keep its moratorium on nuclear-bomb tests.

“This constitutes a major landmark in our quest for energy security,” Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in televised comments. “This decision will open a new chapter in India’s cooperation with other countries in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.”

India has suffered power shortages as the economy has grown more than 8 percent annually since 2003, increasing demand from cement companies and steelmakers. The U.S. made the proposal to the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group to give the south Asian country access to atomic fuels and technologies.

“It’s really a very big step forward for the nonproliferation framework,” U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters during a trip to Tunisia and Algeria.

Rice said she spoke with Chinese officials this morning and negotiators from Ireland and Austria in recent days. The NSG, founded in 1974 to prevent countries from copying India’s use of imported technology to make its first atomic bomb, needed a unanimous vote to pass the deal.

Areva, Toshiba, GE

The waiver means that companies including France’s Areva SA, Russia’s Rosatom Corp. and Japan’s Toshiba Corp. will be able to export nuclear equipment to India. General Electric Co. and other U.S. companies will have to wait until Congress ratifies a 2006 trade pact backed by President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

General Electric, the world’s biggest maker of energy- generation equipment, said Aug. 25 that it may lose contracts in India to French, Russian and Japanese rivals if the U.S. Congress doesn’t ratify a U.S.-India nuclear deal soon after the agreement wins approval from the Suppliers Group.

Rice said the U.S. has talked to India about the potential competitive disadvantage.

“I think they recognize and appreciate American leadership on this issue,” she said. “Because of that I think we’ll have ways to talk them about not disadvantaging American companies.”

Still, she said “the best thing would be to get it through Congress.”

Congressional Approval

Congress, starting its next session on Sept. 8, may not be able to endorse the U.S.-India nuclear cooperation agreement before it adjourns on Sept. 26, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman, a California Democrat, wrote in an Aug. 5 letter to Rice.

The U.S.-India Business Council, which advocated the nuclear accord, issued a statement saying it will lobby for congressional approval. Rice said she talked with 12 committee chairmen in the weeks before the NSG decision to urge them to approve the agreement.

“I’ll have those conversations again most likely Monday or Tuesday as well as trying to see whether the leadership believes that this can go forward,” Rice told reporters today at the residence of the U.S. ambassador in the Algerian capital Algiers. “I don’t think most people thought we were going to be able to get this through the NSG this weekend.”

Germany was particularly helpful in getting approval, along with Britain, France and Russia, Rice said, in a rare nod to Russian cooperation since it invaded Georgia and recognized the independence of two breakaway regions.

Indian officials also praised the agreement, which “marks the end of India’s decades-long isolation from the nuclear mainstream and of the technology denial regime,” Singh said in a statement.

“Today’s development is a major confidence-building move for the international community to engage with India, especially in high technology trade,” the Confederation of Indian Industry said in an e-mailed statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Tirone in Vienna at Viola Gienger Viola Gienger in Algiers at

Fresh India nuclear talks begin

Fresh India nuclear talks begin

India's Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, located 30km from Mumbai (Bombay)
Approval required from 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group
US Congress to approve deal before President Bush signs it into law
All this to happen before Mr Bush’s tenure expires in January 2009

The group of countries which regulates global nuclear trade is meeting in the Austrian capital, Vienna, to discuss a landmark Indian-US nuclear deal.

A waiver from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group would help India finalise the deal.

The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has already backed the controversial accord.

India’s government says the deal is vital to meet its energy demands.

Critics of the deal say it creates a dangerous precedent – allowing India access to fuel and technology without requiring it to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as other countries must do.

Those opposed to lifting the ban say it would undermine the arguments for isolating Iran over its nuclear programme.

The two-day meeting in Vienna will consider a revised US proposal to lift the ban on nuclear trade with India, a key element of the landmark deal.

Reports say that some members of the NSG had expressed concern that the revisions were cosmetic and did not help in clearing the air about whether the deal would enable India to subvert agreements meant to stop production and testing of nuclear weapons.

‘Huge difference’

Following the latest meetings, an unnamed diplomat was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency that the “outlook for consensus is dim because India and the US won’t accept any references in the waiver text to automatic cessation of trade in case India tests another nuclear weapon”.

Separately, a report in the Washington Post newspaper said that the Bush administration had told the US Congress in a “secret” letter that the US had the right to stop nuclear trade with India should the latter conduct a nuclear weapons test.

The letter to the late Tom Lantos, chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said: “The fuel supply assurances are not, however, meant to insulate India against the consequences of a nuclear explosive test or a violation of non-proliferation commitments.”

Communists demonstrate against nuclear deal

India’s communists oppose a partnership with the US

India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Communists – former allies of the governing Congress party who withdrew support for the government over the nuclear deal – have said the contents of the letter show the government is “deceiving” the country.

“There is a huge difference between what the US government is telling its Congress and what our government is telling us,” BJP leader Yashwant Sinha told reporters.

Indian officials made a presentation to explain India’s policy to NSG members during the last round of meetings last month.

The nuclear deal is being strongly pushed by the Bush administration and must also be ratified by the US Congress.

The deal would allow India to enter the world market in nuclear fuel and technology – as long as it is for civilian purposes.

It had previously been banned from doing so under the terms of a 30-year embargo imposed because of its testing of atomic bombs and refusal to join the NPT.

In return, Delhi would open its civilian nuclear facilities to inspection – but its nuclear weapons sites would remain off-limits.

Correspondents say that 14 of India’s 22 existing or planned reactors would come under regular IAEA surveillance if the deal goes ahead.

The US restricted nuclear co-operation with India after it first tested a nuclear weapon in 1974.

Critics fear assistance to India’s civil programme could free-up additional radioactive material for bomb-making purposes.


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