International community split over U.S.-India nuclear deal
Nations participating in the Nuclear Suppliers Group summit will debate whether the deal undermines efforts towards nuclear nonproliferation and sets a precedent for other would-be nuclear powers.
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According to Agence France-Presse, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said that it was "biased to view the deal as going against nuclear non-proliferation efforts," and pointed out that it would give India access to international nuclear technology after being shut out for refusing to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Japan had previously been a major holdout and was pressing India to sign the NPT.Skip to next paragraph
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The Wall Street Journal noted one reason for such wide-ranging support: Energy companies from those countries stand to reap huge profits from building reactors and other nuclear infrastructure for India.
Earlier this year, before the international community became involved, the deal triggered a political crisis in India. Opposition members of the communist party and others argued that the deal drew India too close to the US. The Indian government easily survived a confidence vote over the issue in July, but rifts remain.
In a commentary piece for The Christian Science Monitor, Manjari Chatterjee Miller argued that the deep divisions within India over the deal reflected the country's lack of strategic vision, especially as compared to China.
Similarly, in an editorial in The New York Times, US Congressman Edward Markey (D) of Massachusetts and Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher (D) of California argue against the deal because of India's "checkered" nuclear track record.
Paradoxically, the Nuclear Suppliers Group was formed in direct response to India's illegal 1974 nuclear test. Its central purpose is to ensure that no other country exploits foreign nuclear energy assistance to make a bomb, as India did. If the group accedes to President Bush's dangerous request, countries such as Iran and North Korea would certainly use the precedent to their advantage.
In a background piece on the US-India agreement, the Council on Foreign Relations noted that under the terms of the deal, India agreed to allow the International Atomic Energy Association to inspect its civilian – but not military – nuclear facilities. It also agreed to continue its moratorium on nuclear testing. The piece cites proponents of the deal who argue that some international oversight over India's nuclear program is better than none. "President Bush's bilateral deal correctly recognizes that it is far better for the nonproliferation community if India works with it rather than against it," the backgrounder cites Seema Gahlaut, from the University of Georgia's Center for International Trade and Security, as saying.