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White House rebuffs NPT lobby

The Bush administration has delivered a stinging rebuff to Washington's non-proliferation lobby over its insistence that India be pinned down for its "violation" of the 1956 agreement over the "peaceful uses only" CIRUS reactor.

india Updated: Jan 20, 2006 02:18 IST

The Bush administration has delivered a stinging rebuff to Washington's non-proliferation lobby over its insistence that India be pinned down for its "violation" of the 1956 agreement over the "peaceful uses only" CIRUS reactor.

Undersecretary of State for Arms Control Robert Joseph has informed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that a "conclusive answer" could not be found to the question as to whether India violated the CIRUS agreement.

According to the Senate panel documents, cited by a Reuters report, Joseph has conveyed the administration's belief that "the most productive approach is to focus on India's new commitments" under the 2005 civil nuclear pact.

The NPT lobby is insisting that CIRUS should be classified as a civilian reactor and thrown open to international monitoring. Its contention has been that India has diverted plutonium from the reactor to the weapons programme. The 40 MW reactor was supplied by Canada, while the US provided heavy water for the project.

Leonard Spector, deputy director of the Monterrey Institute Centre for Non-proliferation Studies here, has been in the forefront of the CIRUS campaign. According to him, India's "misuse" of plutonium from this reactor was not confined to its first nuclear test in 1974, but has been "an ongoing offence over the years".

Analysts believe that the aim of Spector and company is to use CIRUS as a template to question India's trustworthiness and thwart congressional approval of the US-India nuke deal.

But the State Department is keen to make progress on the issue in the run-up to President George Bush's India visit, slated for early March.