“And no promise not to resume nuclear testing.”

When I was a kid, my mother warned me against making up stories to cover my behavior – she said it was too easy to get caught down the line when my excuses didn’t add up.

I was reminded of those conversations when I read the story below and thought about the continued rhetoric about Iran’s nuclear program.

A bad deal with India

President George W. Bush is understandably desperate for some kind of foreign policy success. But that cannot justify sacrificing his principled stand against weapons proliferation to seal a nuclear cooperation deal with India. The accord could end up benefiting New Delhi’s weapons program as much as its pursuit of nuclear power.

The deal was deeply flawed from the start. And it has been made even worse by a newly negotiated companion agreement that lays out the technical details for nuclear commerce. Congress should reject the agreement and demand that the administration, or its successor, negotiate a new one that does not undermine efforts to restrain the spread of nuclear weapons.

Any agreement needs to honor the principle Bush set forth in 2004: that countries do not need to make their own nuclear fuel, or reprocess their spent fuel, to operate effective nuclear energy programs. The technology can be all too easily diverted to make fuel for a nuclear weapon.

Unfortunately, Bush’s accord with India jettisoned that essential principle. Washington capitulated to India’s nuclear establishment and endorsed continued reprocessing. And while U.S. law calls for nuclear cooperation to end if India detonates another weapon, the agreement makes no explicit mention of that requirement – while it promises that Washington will acquiesce, if not assist, in India’s efforts to find other fuel suppliers.

Bringing India – which never signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty – in from the cold is not a bad idea. It is the world’s most populous democracy, with a dynamic economy. And its record on nonproliferation – aside from its own diversion of civilian technology to its once-secret weapons program – is pretty good. The problem is that the United States got very little back. No promise to stop producing bomb-making material. No promise not to expand its arsenal.

And no promise not to resume nuclear testing.

The message of all this is unmistakable: When it comes to nuclear proliferation, Washington’s only real policy is to reward its friends and punish its enemies. Suspicion of America’s motives around the world are high enough. America cannot afford another such blow to its credibility, especially when it is trying to rally international pressure against nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea.

The administration will argue that altering this agreement now would be a slap at India. But there is no good in compounding a bad deal. And there are better ways to deepen political and economic ties.

Congress accepted the administration’s arguments far too uncritically when it approved the first India-related nuclear legislation last December. It must now take a stand against the even more damaging companion agreement. At a time when far too many governments are re-examining their decision to forswear nuclear weapons, the United States should be shoring up the nuclear rules, not shredding them.

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  1. Vinu the Mallu

    1. Indian strategic nuclear weapons use approximately 3 Kg Plutonium.

    2. India has large un-safeguarded Plutonium stockpile (conservatively estimated to between 3,000 Kg and 6,000Kg), a fraction of that will suffice to make hundreds of nuclear weapons if India choose to exercise the option.

    3. Indian pressurised heavy water reactor (PHWR) reactors that are outside IAEA safeguard [and have received sufficient Uranium to convert into?] about 2,400Kg weapon grade Plutonium – enough for 800 strategic nuclear weapons.

    4. Current Indian reserves of Uranium are estimated between 77,500 – 94,000 tonnes, enough to support 12,000 MWe power generation for 50 years.

    5. Current Indian PHWR reactors that are outside IAEA safeguard annually require 116 tonnes of natural-uranium when operated in a mode optimized for power generation. When operated in a mode optimized to generate weapon-grade Plutonium they require just 747 tonnes of natural-uranium annually, in the process they generate 745 Kg weapon grade Plutonium, which is enough for 248 nuclear weapons per year.

    If what bush does or doesnt do is not going to make a leaf of a difference to India’s strategic program, ask your self, do you want India as a friend or an enemy?

  2. To be honest with you, I feel our time of telling anyone in the rest of the world what to do is well past. The writer of this article in the Herald Tribune thinks it’s a bad idea – I think we’re being hypocrites to make this kind of deal with India while wailing about Iran.

    We seem to have lost our ability – or, more importantly, our desire – to use negotiation and diplomacy to further our causes. And the fact that we blatantly bully some countries while appearing to “coddle” others will turn out to be a big mistake.

  3. illa morales

    Couric ignored Bush dodge on Pakistan during joint press conference with Afghanistan’s Karzai

    http://mediamatters.org/items/200708070008?src=item200708070008




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