Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns warned lawmakers last week that congressionally mandated conditions could cause the agreement to unravel. He and other administration officials say the agreement is a groundbreaking achievement that will bring India, which has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, into the nonproliferation mainstream, while bolstering U.S.-India ties and adding jobs to the U.S. economy.
But Nunn, who was briefed on the deal by State Department officials last week, said he is concerned it would lead to the spread of weapons-grade nuclear material, unleash a regional arms race with China and Pakistan, and make it more difficult for the United States to win support for sanctions against nuclear renegades such as Iran and North Korea.
"India was a lot better negotiator than we were," Nunn asserted. While the administration has said it has no intention of aiding India's nuclear weapons program, "the reality could be the opposite," he said. "The administration has a high burden to explain this."
Nunn added that suggestions by some former and current administration officials that it might be in the United States' interest to allow India to build up its strategic capabilities is "totally counterproductive and dangerous reasoning."
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is one place this terrible deal could get the scrutiny it needs, and its Chairman, Richard Lugar, is one of those Republicans that doesn't raise my blood pressure on the Sunday morning talk shows. If you felt like writing a note to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the FRC to strongly urge them to investigate the strategic security risks inherent in this deal and implement reasonable restrictions on cooperation with India to prevent global nonproliferation efforts from unraveling, that'd be swell.
306 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-1401
201 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dick Lugar's a good guy, but it can't hurt to tell our boy Joe to ride the majority till they do their job and look out for our security.
UPDATE: Courtesy of ACW, the Arms Control Association speaks out:
One of the most notable and troublesome features of the U.S. proposal is the weak and very ambiguous the language in section 2, which is ostensibly meant to outline what India must do in order to qualify for transfers of NSG* trigger list items. In addition, section 4 would allow individual NSG member states to decide whether India is meeting these weak standards before they sell nuclear technology and materials (possibly including technologies the U.S. would be willing to sell) to India. Section 4 says in part:
Participating Governments may transfer trigger list items and/or related technology to the safeguarded civil nuclear facilities in India (a State not party, and never having been a party, to the NPT) as long as the participating Government intending to make the transfer is satisfied that India continues to fully meet all of the aforementioned nonproliferation and safeguards commitments, and all other requirements of the NSG Guidelines.
In essence, the administration is suggesting that we put the Russias and the Frances and the Indias of the world in charge of U.S. nonprolfieration policy. On the whole, arrangement would further erode rules-based efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons related technology.
– Daryl Kimball, executive director, Arms Control Association
*NSG = Nuclear Suppliers Group, a coalition of nuclear "haves" nations who have agreed to strict controls on what kind of technology may be transferred to the nuclear "have nots" in order to prevent proliferation. Russia and France have been habitually bad at playing fast and loose with nonproliferation guidelines, so giving them the prerogative to decide if they're satisfied with the intended use of the "trigger list" (might be handy for weapons) technology is like a bartender asking a drunk if they're sure they can handle one more drink before driving home.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE 3/27/06: Want to take action, but too lazy to write the Senators? Click here to sign the Federation of American Scientists' petition on HR 4974:
The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) believes that a nuclear technology trade agreement with India is contrary to the long-term security of the United States, India and the world. The Bush administration has submitted a bill to Congress, HR 4974, which revokes Congressional review and evaluation of any future nuclear trade deal with India. ... Normally, any agreement would be subject to Congressional review. But H. R. 4974 makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for Congress to object to whatever the deal turns out to be. In essence, the Congress is being asked to approve a nuclear trade agreement with India months in advance, sight unseen. Even those who support some, but not all, types of possible nuclear agreements with India should oppose this bill that will eviscerate Congressional oversight powers.