Civilian Nuclear Cooperation with India

Tasneem Jamal Nuclear Weapons

Letter from Executive Director John Siebert to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

July 17, 2008

The Honourable David Emerson
Minister of Foreign Affairs
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2

Re: Civilian Nuclear Cooperation with India

Dear Minister,

Congratulations on your recent appointment as Minister of Foreign Affairs. We wish you success as you address the many international security and other challenges currently facing Canada.

With this letter Project Ploughshares is appealing to you and the Government of Canada not to support any proposal to change Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) guidelines with respect to civilian nuclear cooperation with India that would undermine fundamental global nonproliferation standards. Canada is a longtime and active member of the NSG.

One such guideline is the practice of the NSG to preclude civilian nuclear cooperation with any state that does not adhere to full-scope safeguards that apply to all of a country’s nuclear programs. In 1995 Canada joined the other signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to affirm the same principle:

New supply arrangements for the transfer of source or special fissionable material or equipment or material especially designed or prepared for the processing, use or production of special fissionable material to non-nuclear-weapon States should require, as a necessary precondition, acceptance of the Agency’s full-scope safeguards and internationally legally binding commitments not to acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. (Paragraph 12 of the 1995 NPT decision on principles and objectives)

As part of the process of enabling the 2005 US-India civilian nuclear cooperation deal, the NSG will soon be asked to exempt India from that foundational principle. We encourage Canada to reject such an exemption.

In the event that NSG states are overwhelmingly persuaded that special circumstances warrant exempting India from the full-scope safeguards rule, Canada should at the very least ensure that key conditions are attached to the exemption. In particular, Canada should insist that civilian nuclear cooperation with India (and other non-NPT states) be conditional on accepting: a) a verifiable freeze on the production of fissile material for weapons purposes until a Fissile Materials Cutoff Treaty converts such a freeze into a permanent ban; and b) a verifiable freeze on testing until the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty converts such a freeze into a permanent ban. In addition, civilian nuclear cooperation with non-NPT states, including India, should be contingent on their formal acceptance of the disarmament obligations in Article VI of the NPT.

The attached Brief, written by my colleague Ernie Regehr, O.C., provides further detail on our response to the proposed US-India civilian nuclear cooperation deal.

Canada has been an active and reliable advocate for strict and effective nuclear nonproliferation rules. We urge your government to continue that important function and to reject any measure to relax those rules.


John Siebert
Executive Director

The Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister
The Hon. Stéphane Dion, MP
The Hon. Bob Rae, MP
The Hon. Jack Layton, MP
The Hon. Michael Fortier, Minister of Int’l Trade
Paul Dewar, MP
Gilles Duceppe, MP
Paul Crête, MP

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