U.S. makes new nuke concessions to India

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Washington, Apr.21 (ANI): India will receive new concessions as part of its bilateral civilian nuclear agreement with the United States.

In a move that has angered arms control advocates, Washington agreed to Indian demands to increase the number of plants allowed to reprocess U.S.-supplied nuclear fuel from one to two, with the option of another two if India's needs grow in the future, the Washington Times reports.

India has thus far failed to pass legislation that would release U.S. companies from liability in case of accidents related to equipment they have provided for two reactors to be built under the 2007 U.S.-Indian Nuclear Cooperation Agreement.

That effectively prevents those firms from starting businesses in the South Asian country.

The U.S. government understands "the need for sufficient indigenous Indian capacity to reprocess or otherwise alter in form or content, under [International Atomic Energy Agency] safeguards, U.S.-obligated nuclear material," says the new document, which was released by the State Department.

In 2008, the Bush administration restricted Indian reprocessing to one plant in an effort to limit potential proliferation of dangerous dual-use technology, which could be used for military or civilian purposes. However, last month's agreement refers to "two new national reprocessing facilities established by the government of India."

It also says "the management of separated safeguarded plutonium ... shall take into account the need to avoid contributing to the risks of nuclear proliferation, the need to protect the environment, workers and the public."

Arms control experts denounced the new deal, saying it adds to the "damage" done by the original agreement.

"It will further undermine U.S. efforts to stop the spread of enrichment and reprocessing technologies," Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said of the March deal.

"It should be rejected by Congress because it is inconsistent with the terms outlined in" the original agreement, he added.

The new document does not need congressional approval and will go into force unless Congress stops it within 30 days. (ANI)

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