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Baradei endorses Indo-US N-deal again
A Correspondent | June 14, 2006 14:34 IST
Mohamed El-Baradei has come out strongly again in favor of the India-US nuclear deal.
In a column titled 'Rethinking Nuclear Safeguards' in The Washington Post, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency argues that unless 'creative, out of the box solutions' were found, 'the international nuclear safeguards regime will become obsolete.'
Noting that the India-US deal on civilian nuclear cooperation was 'a complex issue on which intelligent people can disagree,' he says that it ultimately boiled down to 'a balance of judgment.'
First, 'there is no such thing as a "legitimate" or "illegitimate" nuclear weapons state under the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty,' he writes.
'The fact that five states are recognized in the treaty as holders of nuclear weapons was regarded as a matter of transition; the treaty does not in any sense confer permanent status on those states as weapons holders.'
Moreover, he argues, 'the US-India deal is neutral on this point -- it does not add to or detract from India's nuclear weapons program, nor does it confer any "status," legal or otherwise, on India as a possessor of nuclear weapons. India has never joined the NPT; it has therefore not violated any legal commitment, and it has never encouraged nuclear weapons proliferation.'
Second, 'it is important to consider the implications of denying this exchange of peaceful nuclear technology,' says the Post column.
'As a country with one-sixth of the world's population, India has an enormous appetite for energy -- and the fastest-growing civilian nuclear energy program in the world. With this anticipated growth, it is important that India have access to the safest and most advanced technology,' he argues.
India 'clearly enjoys' close technology and security cooperation not just with the United States but many other countries, writes El Baradei. 'It is treated as a valued partner, a trusted contributor to international peace and security. It is difficult to understand the logic that would continue to carve out civil nuclear energy as the single area for non-cooperation.'
The India-US agreement commits India to following the guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and brings its civilian nuclear facilities under international safeguards, he points out. New Delhi has also voiced its support for the conclusion of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty, which would not be realized without the strong support of both India and the United States, he says in the Post column.
'The US-India agreement is a creative break with the past that, handled properly, will be a first step forward for both India and the international community. India will get safe and modern technology to help lift more than 500 million people from poverty, and it will be part of the international effort to combat nuclear terrorism and rid our world of nuclear weapons,' he says.
As for the other nations not covered by the NPT, fresh strategies must be found 'to enlist Pakistan and Israel as partners in nuclear arms control and nonproliferation. Whatever form those solutions take, they will need to address not only nuclear weapons but also the much broader range of security concerns facing each country.'
'No one ever said controlling nuclear weapons was going to be easy. It will take courage and tenacity in large doses, a great deal more outside-of-the-box thinking, and a sense of realism. And it will be worth the effort,' he concludes.