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ACA and the U.S.-IndiaAlternativesn Nuclear


 

04-09-09, 03:56 PM

  : 1

ACA and the U.S.-IndiaAlternativesn Nuclear



 

ACA and the U.S.-IndiaAlternativesn Nuclear
Deal: Issues and

Taqrir Washington

Founded in 1971, the Arms Control Association (ACA) describes itself as a nonpartisan membership organization, dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies. ACA works to achieve its goals by various means, including, media programs, public education, and its magazine, Arms Control Today (ACT).Through this assortment of programs, policy makers, the media, and the interested public are provided with what the ACA calls authoritative information, analysis and commentary on arms control proposals, negotiations and agreements, and related national security issues.

In an Arms Control Association press briefing on Tuesday, November 14, a board of expert speakers addressed various issues concerning the proposed U.S.-Indian nuclear trade legislation, which would lift restrictions on U.S.-Indian civilian nuclear cooperation. President George W. Bush has announced the approval of this new deal to be a top priority for the administration. During the recent mid-term elections the proposal of this nuclear deal resulted in a national uproar among politicians, nonproliferation experts and the American public. In Washington Monday, the crucial lame duck session of the U.S. Congress began and a senate vote on the deal, which has been pending since July, is expected to take place before the end of the session.

Michael Krepon, President Emeritus and Co-Founder of the Henry L. Stimson Center began by briefly discussing the details and perceived flaws of the new deal as well as introducing the rest of the panel. The group of expert speakers included Michael Krepon, as mentioned above, Zia Mian, Research Scientist at Princeton Universitys Program on Science and Global Security, Ambassador Norman Wulf, Former Presidents Special Representative for Nuclear Nonproliferation 1999-2002, and Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director of the ACA.

During the course of the discussion, each speaker expressed extreme displeasure with the U.S.-India nuclear deal. The main objective of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, established in 1970, is to inhibit the spread of nuclear weapons. The NPT has a near-universal membership, with only India, Israel and Pakistan remaining outside the treaty, all of whom are known or suspected of having nuclear weapons. The new agreement with India would mark a significant break form decades of U.S. nuclear policy and some may wonder why a county which has routinely avoided treaty cooperation, is now being rewarded.

In discussing the potential ramifications of this agreement, several negative points were outlined. First, the United States has played a fundamental role in the Non Proliferation Treaty, which specifically states that any party member should, in no way, assist a nuclear weapon program of a country like India. In order for the U.S. to effectively act on this new plan, there will have to be a change in U.S. laws, international rules will be waved, and the Nonproliferation Treaty will be undermined. What about past resolutions that have been set by the Security Council? Will other resolutions now be taken less seriously? The ACA experts, along with many others, fear the result of this exception to the rules will prove to be disastrous.

For decades the United States has fought against proliferation and has taught other countries to do the same. Now, with the U.S.s willingness to change its position on the subject, any former nonproliferation agreements may be viewed as invalid. By departing this view the United States has opened the door to other exceptions and it is assumed that sooner or later other nations will desire the same deal as India. For example, in the past the unsafe weapons programs in South Africa, Brazil, and Argentina were all subject to US sanctions and deprived of US fuel. This played a large role in their decision of participation in the NPT. As one speaker said, Now with this new deal, we are breaking faith with these countries. Also, the U.S.-India deal will likely make nonproliferation negotiations with countries such as Iran and North Korea much more difficult. Throughout the briefing the expert speakers continued to described the deal as weakening the NPT and promoting nonproliferation. If the United States follows through with the deal, some fear that the agreement will serve to normalize Indias status as a nuclear weapons state. This ultimately will weaken the NPT as the nonproliferation regime will have less effect.

The U.S.-India nuclear deal would allow international inspections and safeguards at 14 nuclear reactors that India has designated as civilian but its eight military facilities would remain off-limits. In return, the United States would agree to ship nuclear technology and fuel to India. The discussion panel agreed on the importance of strengthening U.S.-Indian relations but maintained the view that it is possible for this to be accomplished without nuclear energy cooperation.

Zia Mian, Research Scientist at Princeton Universitys Program on Science and Global Security, detailed his argument with evidence gathered by the International Panel on Fissile Materials. The number one concern of the expert panel and of most nonproliferation experts is the fear that assistance to India's civil programme could lead to a large enhancement of Indias weapon-making capability, therefore, hindering international efforts to end the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons. Over the years India has built a nuclear power program and actively pursued a fast breeder reactor development program. India currently has 15 reactors, only four of which are under IAEA safeguards. Due to the severe and growing shortage of domestic uranium, India is willing to subject more of its nuclear facilities to safeguards, in exchange for the promise of nuclear technology and fuel. Through this deal, India would gain access to the international uranium market, preventing any future uranium shortages. One concern is that India will use this freed-up uranium to produce weapon-grade plutonium which could be used in any one of their un-safeguarded reactor programs.

According to the ACA expert speakers, the Bush Administration fallaciously paints a rosy picture of the positive aspects of the deal. They also believe the intelligence community is being misused and expert opinions are continuously ignored. The underlying assumptions are that, first; India will prove to be a good ally for the United States in the future, as they will be further established in the role of a mature and responsible international power. Secondly, the administration assures that it is in our best economic interest that India has a civilian nuclear power industry. This will reduce the currently high demand for fossil fuels and will ultimately help the American consumer. The panel argued against these assumptions by pointing out various flaws in the plan. For example, what evidence do we have that India is prepared to meet the requirements of this new deal. And, if the proposal of this deal is passed, what is stopping India from going a separate way? Congress, they say, needs to ensure the balance of the deal is equal before proceeding.

Another assumption that has been made by the Administration is that this special exception applies to India alone. But, as previously mentioned, the U.S. will most likely be expected to make deals with other various nuclear suppliers. Many actions have still yet to be taken in securing this new deal such as: the U.S. and India still need to negotiate an agreement for cooperation as well as negotiate a safeguard with the IAEA. Then, Congress must change U.S. law and the U.S. must convince the Nuclear Suppliers Group to change its rules in support of the deal with India.

The ACA has written on several occasions, to the U.S. Senate, urging them to address the serious flaws of the proposed U.S.-Indian nuclear trade legislation. As discussed in the conclusion of the press briefing the ACA has outlined the key areas needing improvement as being:
-A determination, prior to resumption of full nuclear cooperation, that India has stopped the production of fissile material (plutonium and highly enriched uranium) for weapons or else joined a multilateral fissile production cutoff agreement;

-A determination and annual certification that U.S. civil nuclear trade does not in any way assist or encourage Indias nuclear weapons program;

-Measures to ensure that the United States does not continue to provide nuclear assistance directly or through other suppliers in the even that India breaks the nonproliferation commitment outlined on July 18, 2005; and
-A determination that the Government of India (GOI) or GOI-affiliated entities are not engaged in illicit procurement of WMD-related items.

Overall, the expert panel representing the ACA, agreed on the importance of ensuring and maintaining strong U.S. relations with India. However, due to the fact that India has not joined the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and has repeatedly denied having safeguards on all of its nuclear facilities, they feel that nuclear energy cooperation with the country should be more carefully considered.

 

 


 

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