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China not to oppose nuclear deal: US

December 20, 2006

WASHINGTON, Dec 19: China will not oppose the Indo-US nuclear deal when it goes to the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group to seek its approval for implementing the agreement, says a senior US official.

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns told reporters in Washington that he visited China three weeks ago and discussed the issue with the Chinese. “I do not believe the Chinese will block this. I think they will agree to consensus,” he said.

But Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association, was quoted in the media as saying that if the United States and China might try to cut deal under which China would allow nuclear trade with India, Beijing may also put forth its own conditions.He felt that at some point China may want to be allowed to engage in nuclear trade with Pakistan, “India’s rival but its main ally” but in the region.

President George W. Bush rejected a nuclear cooperation agreement with Pakistan over black market sales involving Dr A. Q. Khan, to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

At a briefing at the White House, Mr Burns also referred to this when he said that “unlike some of their neighbours,” the Indians “have been very responsible” and have “protected their nuclear technology.”

The US official, who played a key role in negotiating the deal with India, said he did not expect any problem in the NSG, which has to approve the deal before it is implemented.

“I’ve talked to each one of those countries, and I’m confident that the Nuclear Suppliers Group will act,” he said.

Mr Burns recalled that Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Japan and Russia have already announced publicly they’ll support the deal.

“There are some countries -- Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland, the Nordics -- that have had some questions. But we’re hopeful that they will join consensus,” he added.