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India Refuses US Proposal to Stop Nuclear Test
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India has refused to include a ban on nuclear test in a draft civil nuclear cooperation pact with the United States, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said Monday.

India is continuing its commitment to a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing, said Navtej Sarna, the spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs, in a briefing.

The US side had shared with India some weeks ago a preliminary draft agreement on India-US civil nuclear cooperation under Article 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act, he said.

In the draft pact the US side suggested that India discontinue nuclear test, he added.

"In preliminary discussions on these elements, India has already conveyed to the US that such a provision has no place in the proposed bilateral agreement," Sarna said.

"India's position on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is well known and continues to remain valid," he said.

New Delhi has refused to sign the CTBT, claiming that it is discriminatory and tends to divide the world into nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states. Instead, it advocates universal nuclear disarmament.

India conducted its first nuclear test in 1974 and the latest one took place in 1998.

India is bound only by the joint statement issued by the two countries in July last year when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Washington, Sarna said.

According to the statement, India agreed to separate its military and civilian nuclear facilities and put civilian ones under international safeguard while the US government lift the ban on exporting nuclear fuel and technologies to India.

To legalize the nuclear deal with India, the US government is lobbying the US Congress to pass the amendment to laws that ban the government from selling nuclear technologies and fuels to the country who does not sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

(Xinhua News Agency April 18, 2006)

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