For Immediate Release
STATEMENT OF PAUL LEVENTHAL
PRESIDENT OF NUCLEAR CONTROL INSTITUTE
REGARDING LEGAL ACTION TO BLOCK NUCLEAR
EXPORTS TO INDIA
Thursday, July 28, 1983
We are bringing this legal action with five other public- interest organizations to block nuclear exports to India that are in clear violation of U.S. non-proliferation law.
The decision to supply India with nuclear reactor components is the most blatant example to date of the Reagan Administration's defiance of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission cannot lawfully approve the export of these items. India is in violation of the export requirements of the Act by actively pursuing a nuclear-weapons program and by refusing to guarantee that international safeguards inspections will continue to apply to the U.S.-supplied Tarapur nuclear powerplant and to the plutonium produced by it.
Why, then, is the Reagan Administration determined to go forward with these exports---even to the extent of going through the unseemly exercise of trying to find other countries to provide nuclear parts that the United States is prohibited by law from sending to India?
The reason, we are told, is that the spare parts are needed for "humanitarian" reasons to eliminate radiation hazards that are endangering the lives of plant workers and nearby residents. And, we are told, providing these nuclear components will remove an "irritant" from U.S.-India relations.
We do not accept these explanations. The components will not eliminate the health and safety problems at Tarapur; they will only perpetuate the unsafe operation of the reactor. The irritant to U.S.- India relations can best be eliminated by India's subscribing to minimal non-proliferation norms that would then permit the United States to provide all the parts, and technical assistance needed to assure safe operation of the plant.
The fact of the matter is that the Indian government is blackmailing the United States by threatening to discontinue safeguards and peaceful-use assurances that now apply to the one ton of plutonium produced thus far at Tarapur. It is also likely to blame the United States for any accident at Tarapur if the spare parts are not received.
The United States should not submit to such blackmail and coercion. If the Indian government wants to risk the lives of its own citizens to make a point about its right to proliferate, that is its own business. We should not permit India to lay the blame on the United States. If Indian citizens become sick and die as a result of a nuclear power plant that is needlessly operating in an unsafe manner, the Indian government, not the United States government, is the guilty party.
The United States must make a credible case to India and the world community that the United States deems nuclear non- proliferation to be as important an objective as nuclear safety. The best way to do that is to make the legal ban on nuclear exports to India stick,in the greater interest of the safety and security of all people of the world. If India flaunts its peaceful-use obligations on nuclear materials, who will be next and where will it end?
Other nuclear suppliers like Japan, West Germany and Italy should be encouraged to join in the U.S. ban, not to serve as an alternative supplier of embargoed parts. If India cannot operate the plant safely without the embargoed parts, it should either shut the plant down or make the non-proliferation commitments necessary to assure immediate shipment of the parts by the United States.
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