Ottawa, Aug.2 : To accommodate India's entry into the international nuclear club so that it can trade openly in nuclear fuel and technology, Canada has changed its policy on nuclear non-proliferation.
According to a Globe and Mail report, India's emergence as an economic power is one reason for Canada overlooking its concerns about making it an exception to the world's non-proliferation rules.
Canadian Foreign Minister David Emerson said that the decision to change his country's nuclear policy was taken after a great deal of deliberation, and now hoped that the 35-member International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) would now forward and give their approval to the India-specific safeguards, which form a part of the US-India civil nuclear agreement.
"There's no doubt that we do this having reflected long and hard and recognizing the deep concerns and frustrations that Canada has gone through over the nuclear history with India, but you can't keep somebody in the penalty box forever," the paper quoted Emerson, as saying.
He was referring to India using Canadian reactor technology, donated to it in the 1950s, to make and test its first atomic bomb in 1974. That cooled relations between Canada and India, ended nuclear exchanges and triggered new efforts by nuclear suppliers around the world to prevent arms proliferation.
Canada will still assess the proposed Nuclear Suppliers Group exemption carefully, but hopes to move forward, he added.anada is now expected to back an exemption for India at the Nuclear Suppliers Group meeting being planned for later this month, which would clear the way for India to begin importing nuclear technology and fuel such as uranium.
That would effectively make India an exception to a 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that recognizes only the five original nuclear-weapons powers - the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France - and excludes all others that develop weapons from the international trade in nuclear technology and supplies.
Canada's position is important, not only because it is a member of both the IAEA board and the NSG, but because of its nuclear history with India and its traditional position as a champion of nuclear non-proliferation.
India, now courted by the world because of its rapidly expanding economy and power, had made approval of the deal a major priority for its foreign policy and its relations with Canada.
India's national security adviser, M.K. Narayanan, was in Ottawa on Tuesday to lobby Canadian officials.
"The way we're looking at it is that our relationship has been underperforming if not in the doldrums completely for a couple of decades now, if not more. And India's come a long way in terms of democracy and the rule of law, and the whole nuclear constellation of issues has evolved to the point where we just can't continue with our position that has been absolute and negative to allowing India back into the nuclear club, as it were," Emerson said.
Critics, however, argue that India is being rewarded with de facto recognition as a sixth legitimate nuclear-weapons power.
They note India will not allow its weapons facilities to be inspected or guarantee that it will not use uranium imports to allow it to devote domestic uranium to building its arsenal - perhaps sparking China and Pakistan to respond.
India, Pakistan and Israel have refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and have tested nuclear weapons.
Canada supported a nuclear-inspection plan for India that was approved by the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna on Friday, a plan required to implement a controversial U.S.-India deal on civil nuclear co-operation.