Friday, June 09, 2006

Experts Encourage Two-Stage Approach to U.S.-Indian Nuclear Technology Deal

Thursday, June 8, 2006

By Marina Malenic

nuclear iran-— Two U.S. nuclear proliferation experts have found that the pending U.S.-Indian civilian nuclear technology-sharing deal could improve relations between the two nations, but urged Congress to require several measures before passing legislation to allow the deal (see GSN, June 5).

In a Council on Foreign Relations report by Michael Levi and Charles Ferguson, fellows for science and technology, the two encourage lawmakers to reinforce the agreement’s nonproliferation provisions and to endorse the deal’s basic framework, but offer final approval for the pact only when those nonproliferation measures are set.

“Congress should issue a set of bottom-line requirements for the formal U.S.-India nuclear cooperation agreement, for India’s inspection agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and for new [Nuclear Suppliers Group] rules that would allow nuclear commerce with India, and enforce those requirements by refusing to pass final legislation enabling nuclear cooperation until the agreements are in place and are satisfactory,” says the report.

The authors said the agreement would strengthen the relationship between the two nations and, in turn, bolster the U.S. strategic position in Asia at a time when U.S. policy-makers have expressed concern about a rising China.

“Legislation passed with broad support will benefit both the U.S. and India in the long term,” the report says.

“American exclusion of India from nuclear commerce has long grated on New Delhi, proving an irritant in the bilateral relationship, and removing this point of friction would no doubt strengthen the relationship,” it says.

Levi and Ferguson also said blocking a resumption of Indian nuclear testing should remain a nonproliferation priority. They advised Congress to “reserve the bulk of its political capital for a handful of top-tier objectives. It should focus on preventing Indian nuclear testing and fundamental changes in Indian nuclear strategy, rather than on blocking growth in the number of Indian nuclear weapons.”

The report says a modest increase in the size of New Delhi’s nuclear arsenal would be less likely to spark an Asian arms race than would a resumption of nuclear testing. U.S. analysts have warned that an Indian nuclear test could open the door to new testing by China and Pakistan. A small number of nuclear tests by China, according to analysts, would be enough to perfect Beijing’s warheads, allowing for more effective targeting of the United States.

Congress should “focus on obtaining cooperation … in controlling the spread of sensitive nuclear technologies, instead of on measures that would shape the development of nuclear technology in India itself,” the report says.

The report urges Congress and the Bush administration to reinforce India’s commitments to strengthening export controls through technical assistance and expert exchanges; provide incentives to limit fissile material production; and press India to label future reactors as civilian and place them under inspection
source:Global Security Newswire
posted by ali ghanandi

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