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China urges India to abandon nuclear weapons

By Super

eijing, Mar 2: China urged India to abandon nuclear weapons and strengthen atomic safeguards as President George W Bush and the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sealed a controversial nuclear pact today (Mar 3, 2006).

Under the deal signed while Bush visited Delhi, the United States offered India nuclear fuel and technology in return for India agreeing to put a wall between its civilian and military nuclear facilities and place its civilian programme under international inspections.

Some US lawmakers and nuclear experts have criticised the deal, saying it weakens international safeguards, especially the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which India has refused to join.

China added its voice to these misgivings today.

India should sign the NPT and also dismantle its nuclear weapons, a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, Qin Gang, told a news briefing in Beijing.

''As a signatory country, China hopes non-signatory countries will join it as soon as possible as non-nuclear weapon states, thereby contributing to strengthening the international non-proliferation regime,'' he said.

Qin said current international safeguards on nuclear weapons were the hard-won product of many countries' efforts and should not be weakened by exceptions.

''China hopes that concerned countries developing cooperation in peaceful nuclear uses will pay attention to these efforts. The cooperation should conform with the rules of international non-proliferation mechanisms,'' he said.

The NPT grants China, the United States, Russia, France and Britain status as nuclear weapons states, but bars other signatory countries from having such weapons.

China has been pursuing nuclear power cooperation with Pakistan, India's long-time rival, and has also hosted stalled six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.

Pyongyang withdrew from the NPT in 2003, after the United States accused it of enriching uranium for weapons.

China urged Iran today to cooperate with the UN nuclear watchdog and suspend nuclear enrichment activities, adding to rising international pressure on Tehran.

''China hopes Iran will fully cooperate with the agency and clarify the unresolved questions about its nuclear programme and will restore the international community's confidence in Iran,'' ministry spokesman Qin said.


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