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India Can Be Trusted With US Nuclear Technology: State Dept

It's just nuclear rhetoric.

Washington (AFP) Nov 03, 2005
The United States on Wednesday defended its landmark nuclear deal with India, saying it would be far easier to monitor New Delhi's atomic energy activities within the fold of the international regime than outside of it.

To make his pitch for congressional approval, US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and urged lawmakers to throw their support behind the agreement, which must be approved by both houses of the US Congress.

"We decided that it was in the American interest to bring India into compliance with the standards and practices of the international non-proliferation regime," Burns said, explaining the rationale for the July 18 agreement reached between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George W. Bush.

"To consign it (India) to a place outside that system did not appear to be strategically wise, and has not proven effective," Burns said.

Burns added that the agreement underscores "democratic India's arrival as a force in the world," and said "the time is right" for such an accord.

"It is time to shift our US-India relationship to a new strategic partnership for the decades ahead," he said.

Under the terms of the deal, Washington would give India access to civil nuclear energy related technology once India separates civilian and military nuclear programs and place its nuclear reactors under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections.

India is a nuclear-armed nation but not a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and acquired its nuclear weapons technology by violating bilateral pledges it made to Washington not to use US-supplied nuclear materials for weapons purposes.

Nevertheless, Burns assured lawmakers that New Delhi could be trusted in the future with sensitive nuclear technology.

"While not formally part of the NPT regime, India has demonstrated a strong commitment to protect fissile materials and nuclear technology," Burns told the Senate committee.

"India has resisted proposal for nuclear cooperation with nuclear aspirants that could have had adverse implications for international security."

Still, some lawmakers suggested that they are not fully convinced.

"This is not a slam dunk," warned Senator Joseph Biden, the top Democrat on the foreign relations panel, adding that there remain "a lot of questions" that will need to be addressed before Congress can give its blessing to the arrangement -- including assuring it "doesn't lead to more proliferation" by rewarding India for having broken the rules.

"That would be a terrible legacy to have," Biden said.

Other US legislators have warned that the nuclear cooperation deal could be jeopardized if India fails to show sufficient cooperation in US efforts to restrict the nuclear ambitions of Iran, a country with which New Delhi has valuable energy ties.

The United States has accused Iran of hiding secret nuclear weapons work, allegations denied by Tehran which insists it has a right to pursue a peaceful civilian nuclear program.

Washington had placed sanctions on India after its second round of nuclear tests in May 1998, but agreed after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks to waive those and other sanctions in return for support in the war against terrorism.

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U.S. Pushes Nuclear Deal With India
Washington (UPI) Nov 03, 2005
A skeptical Congress is weighing the advantages of a U.S. nuclear technology deal with India amid calls by the Bush administration not to dilute the pact and pleas from the non-proliferation community that the agreement in its current form will kill the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.







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