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Home > News > PTI

N-deal good for non-proliferation regime: Burns

April 05, 2006 18:27 IST

Acknowledging that the Indo-US civil nuclear deal was "controversial" as it was "unorthodox", Washington on Wednesday said it was good for non-proliferation regime and sought to dispel apprehensions that it would lead to arms race between India and Pakistan.

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns said the endorsement of the deal by the US Congress may "take some time" as it is going to be a "tough debate" and "people would ask a lot of questions."

Indo-US Nuclear Tango

"Frankly, I am not persuaded by the critics inside my own country. Some people say, well, this will lead to an arms race between Pakistan and India. We don't think so," Burns, who was the US interlocutor in negotiations on the deal, told NDTV.

"There is no reason why India should seek to use this opportunity to double or triple its strategic programme," he said, adding New Delhi wants "safe relations" with Beijing and Islamabad. Rejecting the allegations that the deal reflected double standards of the US, he said there was no comparison between India and Iran on nuclear issue.

"…people say, well, it is double standard... How can you treat India one way and Iran another. We say, quite easily, India is democratic. India plays by the rules. India wants the IAEA to come into its country.

"Iran is autocratic, doesn't play by the rules. It's trying to kick the IAEA out," he said and added, "So there are responses, I think, persuasive responses to the critics." He said "there is no question this (deal) is controverial because it is unorthodox."

President Bush in India

Burns pointed out that President George W Bush has departed from the "conventional wisdom in the world" for 30 years that India should be isolated and decided that "let us engage India. Let us bring India into the international system."

He said it was "much better now to bring India into strengthen the non-proliferation regime" and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would be presenting this argument in her testimony before the Senate and House of Representatives.

"Sometimes bold ideas take a little while to be understood and accepted but we are very confident we have done the right thing here," the Under Secretary said, adding, "It is good for the US, it's certainly good for India."

He said the Bush Administration knew that when it put the deal before the Congress, it was "going to be a tough debate". Noting that there was a "great majority of Congressmen and women who still want to see the details," Burns said however that "I think that many members are increasingly beginning to see the advantages of this deal."

On chances of endorsement of the deal by the Congress through enactment of a law which is currently being debated, he said, "It might take some time to gain Congressional approval... people would ask a lot of questions, but this was to be expected.

And we are satisfied with where we are and we believe we are well positioned to make a persuasive case." Voicing optimism, he said the chances are better than 50-50 that the US is going to say "yes" to a new strategic relationship with India and then India, in turn will meet its responsibilities to allow a greater degree of international inspections and oversight of India's civil nuclear programme.

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