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U.S. Pushes Nuclear Deal With India

I agree,... that any self respecting superpower needs nukes.

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.

"They don't see a good way to proceed," Michael Krepon, president emeritus of the Henry L. Stimson Center in Washington and an expert on South Asia, told United Press International in an interview. "They don't think the deal the administration struck is particularly wise, but they don't see what to do to make it better."

The deal was signed over the summer by President Bush and visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Under this deal, India would separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities and allow the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, to inspect civilian sites. In exchange, the United States will, after congressional approval, give India access to civilian nuclear technology.

Relations between the two countries, especially on nuclear issues, has been historically contentious. India had a secret nuclear program that came to fruition in May 1998 when it tested nuclear devices and declared itself a nuclear weapons state. U.S. sanctions imposed after the test were lifted after the start of the war on terror in which India is seen as an ally.

The Bush administration is promoting India as a unique case: A nuclear-weapons country that has stringent anti-proliferation safeguards and a close ally and regional power that should be rewarded for its responsible nuclear policies.

"India is in a unique situation and has shown itself to be responsible in not proliferating its nuclear technologies and materials," Robert G. Joseph, the undersecretary of state for Arms Control and International Security, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday.

But the deal in its current form would mean amending and possibly weakening the NPT, the cornerstone of global nonproliferation security. India is not a signatory to the treaty and claims it discriminates against the non-nuclear-weapons states. Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States are the recognized nuclear powers. India, Pakistan and North Korea also have them and Israel is believed to possess them.

Global proliferation concerns have grown over North Korea's and Iran's nuclear programs and the revelation that A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear program, was at the center of global nuclear proliferation network. Another major leak, it is feared, would blow the NPT out of the water.

India's close ties with Iran have come under scrutiny though some of those concerns may have been assuaged when New Delhi voted last month at the IAEA to refer its old ally Iran to the U.N. Security Council for violating its international treaty obligations.

Krepon said: "The deal they've struck has diluted the treaty."

Those sentiments have been echoed on Capitol Hill.

"This is not a slam dunk," said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations committee.

He said Congress needed to be assured that the deal does not "lead to more proliferation."

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

In addition to the congressional discomfort at the deal, the administration also has to persuade doubtful allies about the merits of the deal. So far, Britain, France and Canada have all agreed to back India's position while Sweden and Japan have been more reluctant.

Administration officials warned, however, that imposing new conditions on India would be unwise.

"We would urge both Congress and our international partners to avoid the temptation to renegotiate the deal," Joseph said, adding: "Additional conditions would likely prove to be deal-breakers."

The administration contends that isolating India rather than engaging it will be counterproductive in the long run for U.S. interests.

"We concluded we had a better chance to have India meet international non-proliferation standards if we engaged rather than isolated it,'' Nicholas Burns, the U.S. undersecretary of state for Political Affairs told the same Senate panel on Tuesday.

He added that the administration would not push for the deal until India keeps its end of the bargain and separates its civilian and military nuclear facilities and opens up the civilian sites to IAEA inspection.

"I believe that will likely be in early 2006," he said.

Krepon of the Stimson Center argued that both positions - the administration's and Congress' -- had merit and would require a delicate balancing act.

"It's a good idea for us and India to greatly improve relations. And it's a good idea to bring India into the global governance related to proliferation," he told UPI. "But how we bring India will affect the norms related to non-proliferation." Related Links
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India Can Be Trusted With US Nuclear Technology: State Dept
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.

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