10 Sep 2008

Government defends Indian nuclear deal

9:43 pm on 10 September 2008

The Government says it got the best deal it could on nuclear trade with India.

The Nuclear Suppliers Group in Vienna has agreed to a United States proposal to allow the sale of nuclear reactors and fuel to India.

New Zealand is one of 45 members of the group, which had been pushing for limits on the deal, including an immediate halt in trade if India tests another nuclear bomb.

However, Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control Phil Goff says New Zealand, Ireland and Austria have had to accept a compromise involving a set of assurances from India.

Mr Goff is confident that, overall, the agreement will strengthen and not weaken nuclear non-proliferation.

The deal now needs to be ratified by the US Congress before it can be implemented.

India says the deal is vital for it to meet its civil energy demands and has pledged to keep its nuclear non-proliferation commitments and to uphold a voluntary moratorium on testing atomic weapons.