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'Collapse of N-deal is a win for nuke sanity'
Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC | October 18, 2007 22:42 IST
The most vehement critic of the India-United States civilian nuclear agreement in the US Congress, representative Ed Markey, Massachusetts Democrat, rejoicing in the unraveling of the deal, said, "If the deal collapses now, it will be the best outcome for global nuclear nonproliferation possible while the current administration is still in office."
Markey, at a conference of the Federation of American Scientists, announcing at the outset that there is no better place than the Federation of American Scientists--an organization created in the wake of the first atomic explosion--to talk about a current great atomic threat, the US-India nuclear deal," declared, "A failure for the Bush administration on the nuclear deal will be a big win for nuclear sanity. Around the globe, people concerned with stopping the spread of nuclear weapons will breathe a sign of relief."
"There isn't likely to be a 'Eureka' moment, though," he said, and added, "Even if the deal is for all purposes dead, the Indian government and the Bush Administration will surely claim that, 'it's not dead, its timing is wrong.'"
Markey, a senior lawmaker, who co-chairs the Congressional Task Force on Nonproliferation, warned, "And, the possibility exists that, given how much the Bush administration has invested in this deal as an example of their 'successful' foreign policy, they may re-open negotiations and concede even more to India."
But, he argued that even if the deal is resurrected by both Washington and New Delhi, "enormous hurdles remain", and said these problems "have in fact grown".
Markey said three major steps remained, and enumerated them as India having to negotiate an International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards agreement; the Nuclear Suppliers Group having to change the international rules of nuclear supply; and the US Congress once again voting to give its final approval. "None of these are guaranteed, and they may even be getting less likely," he predicted.
He said even if the first two hurdles were cleared, the Bush Administration has to convince the Congress to approve the deal. But many members of Congress are growing increasingly sceptical of what the Bush Administration is selling, especially after the formal bilateral negotiations with India resulted in an agreement that many in Congress view as not in compliance with the Hyde Act.
To drive home his point, Markey argued, "In fact, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, just introduced a bill which says that the President has not yet shown that the deal is compliant with Congressional conditions as laid down in the Hyde Act."
"If that's what the most senior Republican thinks, then the Bush administration is in real trouble," he said.
Markey also said, "And, let's not forget the lurking issue of India's economic and military ties to Iran. Many members of Congress are deeply troubled by India's refusal to get serious about the threat from Iran's nuclear programme, and this issue really could break the nuclear deal."
"So clearly," he predicted, "even if the Bush administration and the Indian government try to breathe life back into the dying nuclear deal, it faces a deeply uncertain future."