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McCain vows to support Indo-US nuclear deal
Dharam Shourie in New York | May 28, 2008 13:23 IST
Strongly backing the stalled civilian nuclear deal with India, Republican presidential candidate John McCain has said it would strengthen the US ties with the world's largest democracy and further involve New Delhi in non-proliferation efforts.
"I support the US-India civil nuclear accord as a means of strengthening our relationship with the world's largest democracy, and further involving India in the fight against proliferation," he said in a major foreign policy speech at the University of Denver, Colorado.
McCain, 71, who has sealed the Republican nomination for the November Presidential elections, said the US should engage actively with both India and Pakistan to improve the security of nuclear stockpiles and weapons materials.
McCain's remarks assume importance as doubts remain whether the landmark deal, facing opposition from the Left parties and the Bharatiya Janata Party, can come through during the Bush administration's tenure.
"We should engage actively with both India and Pakistan to improve the security of nuclear stockpiles and weapon material and construct a secure global nuclear order that eliminates the likelihood of proliferation and the possibility of nuclear conflict," McCain said.
Vowing to work for total elimination of nuclear weapons, McCain also called for negotiation with China to temporarily halt production of nuclear grade material. He also proposed a new treaty with Russia [Images] to destroy more atomic weapons to significantly reduce the arsenal.
Sharply criticising previous administrations for their failure to stop nuclear proliferation, he stressed that his policies would aim at moving towards a significantly smaller nuclear force compare with thousands of atomic warhead that are now deployed. He called for a bipartisan approach to strengthening international arms treaties.
"We need to enlist all willing partners in the global battle against nuclear proliferation," McCain said while insisting that civilian nuclear energy can play a critical role in fighting against global warming.
Civilian nuclear power, he said, provides a way for the US and other responsible nations to achieve energy independence and reduce dependence on foreign oil and gas.
His meeting was disturbed four times by protesters opposing Iraq war. They were escorted out and offered no resistance. But even as they shouted anti-war slogans, hundreds of his supported chanted his name in an effort to drown their voices.
"Some nations use the pretense of civilian nuclear programmes as cover for nuclear weapons programmes.... We cannot allow nations to enrich and reprocess uranium, ostensibly for civilian purposes, and stand by impotently as they develop weapons programme," McCain said, apparently referring to Iran.
McCain said he would support international guarantees of nuclear fuel supply to countries that renounce enrichment and reprocessing, as well as the establishment of multinational nuclear enrichment centres in which they can participate.
"Nations that seek nuclear fuel for legitimate civilian purposes will be able to acquire what they need under international supervision," he said.