While ultimately unsuccessful, recent action at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) saw at least some brave attempts to preserve a core nuclear nonproliferation principle – namely, that civilian nuclear cooperation is to be reserved for states that honour the global norm against nuclear weapons and adhere to full-scope safeguards administered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Canada was decidedly and regrettably not among those that fought to uphold the principle. By the time of the key August and September meetings, the Cabinet had already made the decision to support Washington’s request that the principle be waived in the case of India.
The point is not that Canada failed to recognize the full import of what was being decided. The point is that the Harper Government understood and welcomed the fact that the central nonproliferation rule was being seriously compromised. This represents a major reversal in Canadian nonproliferation policy and is almost certain to be followed by the pursuit of nuclear trade with India, a state with nuclear weapons that persists in rejecting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and a moratorium on the production of fissionable materials for weapons purposes.