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US-India civilian nuclear deal a 'gamble': US Senator
January 12, 2006 23:17 IST
US President George W Bush is taking a "nuclear gamble" and sending a wrong message to the world by agreeing to provide civilian atomic energy assistance to India, an American lawmaker known as the architect of the 1978 Non Proliferation Act has claimed.
One of the risks, according to Leonar Weiss, is of terrorists being able to buy or steal nuclear bombs. Weiss also claimed that the proposed cooperation with India could also unravel the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty.
"India's nuclear history reveals why the proposed deal would weaken US national security. In 1974, India exploded a secret nuclear device using plutonium from a Canadian- supplied reactor containing US heavy water. Both the reactor and the heavy water were sold to India under agreements with a 'peaceful use' requirement, which India violated", he claimed in an opinion piece in The Dallas Morning News.
Weiss alleged that now the President has put forth a plan that "caves in" to India. "It would not only allow India to keep its bombs, but it also would permit it to use all its own nuclear material for bomb making, while using nuclear fuel the US would supply for its civilian power program. If India receives this favour, can Israel and Pakistan be far behind?"
Such a "radical" proposal should be viewed in the framework of what is taking place with Iran and North Korea, he said.
Weiss compared what India will be allowed by the Republican administration and what has been denied or is being denied to Tehran, one of which he claimed was that New Delhi can build as many nuclear weapons as it wishes with its own nuclear supplies and Iran cannot. The other comparison, according to him, is that India is being allowed to build and operate un-safeguarded facilities for producing and stockpiling unlimited amounts of fissible materials to weapons programme whereas Iran cannot, even if safeguarded and even if the NPT did not prohibit those activities.
"This double-standard favoring India is an example of America's willingness to wash away the nuclear sins of its 'friends' to achieve other foreign policy goals... It is no secret that the Bush administration views China as a growing strategic rival and sees India as a counterweight. It is therefore interested in helping India build up its economic and military capability" Weiss alleged. According to him, there are other fallouts as well as a result of the Bush administration's India policy on the civilian nuclear arrangement, such as the motivation for Beijing and Islamabad to accelerate their own weapons programmes and Pakistan being less cooperative in the ongoing investigation of the A Q Khan nuclear blackmarketing network.
"Adding the risk to the non-proliferation treaty to this poisonous mix makes the President's proposal a marked retreat from half a century of American leadership in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons," Weiss claimed.