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Pakistanis urge tougher IAEA stance on India deal PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 01 August 2008

Vienna, July 30 ( - Senior Pakistani figures have accused the Islamabad government of buckling to US pressure not to hold up a nuclear trade deal between Washington and Pakistan's arch-rival India.

The deal would give India access to the world market in nuclear fuel and technology for first time after a decades-long ban due to India having tested atom bombs and staying out of the international Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Pakistanis are unhappy because of their history of three wars and enduring tensions with neighbouring India. Pakistan feels it should get a similar deal from the United States.

The International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors will meet on Friday to consider an IAEA inspections plan covering 14 of India's 22 existing or planned nuclear reactors, a precondition for activating the U.S.-Indian deal.

In an open letter circulated by U.S. disarmament advocates, 30 Pakistanis including four former foreign secretaries and one ex-foreign minister voiced "shock" at reports Islamabad had dropped objections to an IAEA board role in the deal.

They said the 35-nation board's imprimatur would help "disrupt the strategic balance in South Asia, oblige Pakistan to take steps to maintain credible deterrence and lead to a nuclear arms race between powers of South Asia".

The U.S.-India pact is controversial as New Delhi is not part of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and does not rule out conducting more nuclear tests.

If the IAEA governors approve the inspections draft, India must then win an exemption from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group allowing trade with a treaty outsider.


The Pakistanis' letter echoed objections in a July 18 memo sent to agency governors by Pakistan's IAEA envoy, who called the drive to implement the pact "discriminatory and dangerous".

"It is important to resist the drive to steamroll this agreement through the IAEA board and NSG," Ambassador Shabhaz wrote. He said Pakistan would seek amendments to parts of the plan seen as vague by some board members.

But a senior Western diplomat told Reuters on Tuesday the Pakistanis had since agreed in high-level talks with U.S. officials not to demand amendments or a vote or "anything else that would stand in the way of this agreement".

Islamabad was told that subjecting most Indian nuclear sites to IAEA checks was in its interest and reminded that its last two governments had pledged not to obstruct the U.S.-India deal.

Pakistan is one of the biggest recipients of U.S. aid and a key ally in the United States' war on terror.

Pakistan has also never joined the NPT and, in U.S. eyes, cannot be treated like India because it lacks a long track record of democracy and nuclear non-proliferation.

Pakistan's A.Q. Khan ring smuggled bomb-suitable nuclear technology to unstable regions before it was smashed in 2004.

Still, the 30 Pakistanis' letter complained about differing U.S. standards applied to the two countries.

"Continued denial of civilian nuclear technology for the generation of power will hamper Pakistan's economic development," it said, saying civil nuclear cooperation must become a priority in Islamabad's relations with Washington.

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