Sunday, August 12, 2007

Lieberman Pushes India Nuke deal

By Cernig

Wow. Jo-Low is really pushing the boat out in India.
The broad nuclear deal, which was recently agreed upon by officials and lawmakers in Washington and New Delhi, has run into some resistance in both countries and must still be passed by Congress.

``I will do everything I can to help see it through the United States Senate,'' Lieberman, I-Conn., told reporters during a three-day visit to India.

Lieberman said he hoped the agreement would transform the U.S.-India relationship ``into the most important bilateral relationship we have in the next century of our history.''

The senator, who met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and leaders of the opposition, said he was confident the bill would pass in both houses.

However, he conceded that there would likely be strong opposition to the fact that the agreement allows India to reprocess nuclear fuel - a key step in making atomic weapons - and does not address the issue of future Indian nuclear tests. Under the agreement, reprocessing is to take place at a facility safeguarded by U.N. inspectors to prevent it from being used in bombs.

The document outlining the agreement says if the fuel supply from the United States is cut off for any reason - an Indian test presumably among them - Washington would help find third countries to supply New Delhi's reactors.

The deal allows the United States to ship nuclear fuel and technology to India, which in exchange would open its civilian nuclear reactors to international inspectors. India's military reactors would remain off-limits.

Lieberman said India's close ties with Iran could also pose a problem, but said it was not right of the U.S. to expect India to end its relationship with Tehran, given that other U.S. allies in Europe and Japan have kept ties with the country.
The nuke deal has already been used several times by the Bush administration to leverage India into supporting sanctions and resolutions against Iran at the UN. The deal has also been used as bait for US arms deals with India. It's a very big carrot and using it as leverage when India iteself illegally developed a nuclear program and has never joined the NPT smacks of downright hypocrisy (not that that's ever been a problem for Joe).

I was unaware that there was a get-out clause in the event of India breaking the deal. The idea that, if India keeps testing nukes, the deal is off but the US will help it find other uranium supplies is just incredible. It makes a nonsense of the entire provision. If this is the best the foreign policy establishment can come up with in the non-proliferation stakes - a deal that kick-starts a new Asian arms race - then Cheryl Rofer is right, we urgently need debate on the utter lack of a coherent US nuclear policy.

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