Indo-US Nuclear deal a 'major blow': China

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Beijing, Sep 1: Indo-US Nuclear deal a 'major blow' to non-proliferation, raising pressure as the deal faces opposition in an international atomic cartel, quoted a Chinese top newpaper. "Whether it is motivated by geopolitical considerations or commercial interests, the US-India nuclear agreement has constituted a major blow to the international non-proliferation regime," said the commentary by a researcher from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a leading state think tank. Chinese officials have remained tight-lipped about the deal and given no sign they would outright block it, but official media and experts have raised worries.

The commentary on Monday, Sep 1 in the People's Daily, the ruling Chinese Communist Party's official paper, was a rare public response from Beijing on the controversial US proposal to lift a ban on nuclear trade with India. Diplomats in Vienna said on Sunday, Aug 31 that a revised US proposal to lift the ban did not sufficiently ease fears the move could compromise efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

Washington needs an unprecedented exemption from the Nuclear Suppliers Group's normal rules to help seal its 2005 civilian nuclear energy deal with New Delhi. But at the group's meeting, six member nations demanded changes to ensure Indian access to nuclear markets would not indirectly help its atomic bomb programme.

Without NSG approval in early September, the US Congress may run out of time for final ratification before it adjourns at the end of the month for autumn elections. China was not among the six nations that raised objections in the NSG meeting, but the commentary was a reminder that Beijing was irked by the nuclear agreement.

The deal is controversial since India has shunned the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which commits members to nuclear disarmament, after developing atom bombs with Western technology imported ostensibly for peaceful nuclear energy.

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