Canadian uranium could end up in Indian nukes, experts warn

Canadian uranium could end up in Indian nuclear weapons triggering a new arms race between India and Pakistan, according to about 200 international experts and delegates of the World Uranium Symposium who denounced the Canada-India uranium deal signed on the eve of the NPT review conference to be held in New York City in two weeks’ time as an attempt by Harper government to undermine and discredit the key international treaty prohibiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

“Despite rules specifying no military use of Canadian materials, some uranium from Canada could well end up in Indian bombs,” said Dr. Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility. “At the very least, Canadian uranium will free up more Indian uranium for weapons production purposes.”

India, which maintains an arsenal of nuclear weapons and has never signed the United Nations’ Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), signed a five-year contract with the Saskatoon-based company Cameco to supply over seven million pounds of uranium to India over the next five years during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Canada.

“Canada’s attitude sends a terrible message to the international community regarding the necessity for all countries to respect and to reinforce the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,” said Arielle Denis, Director of the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

“India’s nuclear weapons program is very active, as demonstrated by a series of nuclear test explosions,” Shri Prakash, one of several participants from India at the World Uranium Symposium, said. “Moreover tensions between India and Pakistan, a country with its own nuclear arsenal, are running very high. The attitude of Canada is irresponsible and alarming,”

“We should be reinforcing the NPT and not undermining it,” Arielle Denis of ICAN explained. “Canada is going against the Austrian Agreement launched last December to fill the gap present in international law by making it not only illegal to use nuclear weapons, but also to possess them. Nuclear warheads are the only Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) not forbidden under existing international conventions,”

The experts point out that India has already broken its promise to Canada in the past by using a Canadian reactor given as a gift in 1956 to produce the plutonium for its first atomic bomb, detonated in 1974.

Canada broke off all nuclear cooperation with India, a policy that was maintained until the Harper government decided to resume nuclear cooperation between Canada and India despite its nuclear arsenal.

Australian delegates to the World Uranium Symposium also expressed grave misgivings about the negotiations towards a similar agreement between India and Australia, whereby Australian uranium would be sold to India.