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. Japan pressured to oppose US-India nuclear deal
TOKYO, Aug 15 (AFP) Aug 15, 2008
Anti-nuclear campaigners launched a campaign Friday to press nuclear energy suppliers to stop an accord between India and the United States, saying it would shatter anti-proliferation efforts.

A loose coalition including activists and scholars focused efforts on Japan, which has been non-committal on the deal that would give India access to nuclear technology without signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

"We urge you to support measures that would avert further damage to the already beleaguered global non-proliferation and disarmament regime," said a letter signed by more than 160 people and groups from 24 countries.

Japan is a key player in the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, which controls the transfer of nuclear material and needs to approve the India-US deal. The group is expected to meet next week in Vienna.

The letter, which will be handed to foreign ministers of all the supplier nations, was signed by the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two cities that were destroyed by US atomic bombs at the end of World War II in 1945.

"The Japanese foreign ministry must realise that this agreement would be the start of the collapse of the non-proliferation regime," Japanese lawyer Masayoshi Narita told a news conference.

"Japan as the only nation to come under nuclear attacks must clearly argue against it," he said.

Other signatories to the letter include Leonard Weiss, the architect of US non-proliferation laws, American leftist philosopher Noam Chomsky and former UN under secretary-general Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says the nuclear accord is crucial as the country seeks to meet energy needs for its fast-growing economy.

The deal has moved forward since Singh parted ways with communist party allies, who argued that the accord aligns the country too closely with the United States.

Japan, like the United States, has been seeking a closer alliance with fellow democracy India.

Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura visited India earlier this month and said Tokyo was still assessing whether the nuclear deal would undermine non-proliferation efforts.

But he said that Japan would never change its position that India, which tested an atom bomb in 1998, should sign the NPT.

The India-US pact received key backing this week from Australia, which has the world's largest uranium reserves.

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