Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday praised Russia’s decision to sell uranium to New Delhi, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, March 17).
Russian Premier Mikhail Fradkov approved the transaction, according to Indian officials.
“I would ... like to convey our warm appreciation to the Russian government for responding positively to our request for nuclear fuel supply to Tarapur 1 and 2,” Singh said, referring to Indian nuclear reactors.
The United States, which recently signed a nuclear technology sharing agreement with India, is opposed to the sale.
Fradkov defended Moscow’s decision to sell the material.
“We have served this issue within international framework and it does not contradict international commitments,” he said. “The sale of uranium is in the interest of both the countries.”
During the joint news conference announcing the deal, neither Singh nor Fradkov mentioned the U.S.-Indian agreement.
New Delhi originally asked Washington for uranium, but was turned down because of U.S. laws forbidding the sale of the material to nations that do not allow international inspections of all their nuclear facilities, according to AFP (Agence France-Presse/Gulf Times, March 17).
Meanwhile, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in a speech to Pakistani soldiers said the U.S.-Indian agreement would upset the balance of power in the region, Pakistani newspaper The News reported Saturday.
According to a spokesperson with Pakistan’s foreign ministry, if the U.S. Congress approves the deal, the consequences for nonproliferation efforts would be severe.
“The grant of the waiver as a special case will have serious implications for the security environment in South Asia as well as for international nonproliferation efforts,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.
The spokeswoman also argued that the deal would allow India to continue its nuclear weapons program.
“The agreement, which keeps a large number of facilities and reactors including breeder reactors outside safeguards, would only encourage India to continue its weapons program without any constraint or inhibition,” she said.
“On its part Pakistan would not accept any discriminatory treatment,” she added, saying a better approach would have been to offer the technology to both India and Pakistan.
The spokeswoman said Pakistan would avoid an arms race.
“Following the resumption of the composite dialogue in 2004, it remains Pakistan's objective to avoid arms race, promote restraints, reduce risk and maintain the nuclear deterrent at the minimum credible level,” she said (The News, March 18).