India nuclear deal: big step on long road
With no progress on Iran, and setbacks on North Korea, the deal may be Bush's only nonproliferation feat.
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But critics of the India deal, largely in the nonproliferation community, say the deal will set back nonproliferation efforts by encouraging other potential nuclear powers to hold out for a similar deal. "This deal has everything to do with being able to say we changed relations with India and with building good relations with the Brahmin elite of that country, but it has nothing to do with nonproliferation and will only set it back," says Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Non-Proliferation Policy Education Center in Washington.Skip to next paragraph
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Regarding North Korea, the administration insists it won't grant any concessions on the accord reached in June, but says that Christopher Hill, assistant secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs who arrived in Pyongyang Wednesday, might agree to changes in how verification of disarmament is carried out.
The outcome may ride on whether Pyongyang decides it gets the best deal with Bush, or gambles that its prospects may brighten with a new administration. "They may be trying to game the American elections," says Mr. Einhorn.
As for Iran, everything points to Tehran taking advantage of the next few months of focus on American politics to advance its mastery of the uranium enrichment process.
One question mark is whether or not Israel would strike against known Iranian nuclear installations under cover of a sympathetic US administration. Recent reports citing Israeli intelligence leaks claim the Israeli government ran into a red light at the White House when it floated the idea of an attack earlier this year.
With the international community seemingly united against a nuclear-armed Iran, yet in disaccord on how to ensure that goal, the next US administration seems certain to pursue increased diplomatic pressure on Tehran. But others say that strategy has not worked and a new approach is now needed to dissuade Iran.
"We need to be thinking about … what are the political strategies we can follow now … to try to persuade the Iranians not to continue to the end of a nuclear weapons program," says David Kay, a former US and UN weapons inspector who worked on Iraq. Mr. Kay, now at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in Arlington, Va., says Iran is "80 percent of the way" toward building a nuclear weapon, which by his estimate means the world is perhaps two to five years away from a nuclear Iran. The next few months of transition from one US administration to another, he says, should be used to come up with a strategy for influencing Iran. "It's not a hopeless task," he says.
A start lies in understanding Iran's existential security concerns – which Kay sees as similar to those driving Israeli actions in the region – and devising a strategy that takes those concerns into account. "We should say we understand their national security dilemma" and their concerns about "regional security," he says.