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Condoleezza Rice responds today to critics of the new treaty that George Bush signed recently with India, guaranteeing access to their nuclear facilities while bolstering their production of nuclear energy for domestic uses. Some questioned whether the deal would undermine efforts to confront Iran and North Korea on proliferation, but Rice writes that India presents a unique opportunity to strengthen those efforts:
Our agreement with India is unique because India is unique. India is a democracy, where citizens of many ethnicities and faiths cooperate in peace and freedom. India's civilian government functions transparently and accountably. It is fighting terrorism and extremism, and it has a 30-year record of responsible behavior on nonproliferation matters.
Aspiring proliferators such as North Korea or Iran may seek to draw connections between themselves and India, but their rhetoric rings hollow. Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism that has violated its own commitments and is defying the international community's efforts to contain its nuclear ambitions. North Korea, the least transparent country in the world, threatens its neighbors and proliferates weapons. There is simply no comparison between the Iranian or North Korean regimes and India.
The world has known for some time that India has nuclear weapons, but our agreement will not enhance its capacity to make more.
This essay provides a reality check, not just for American critics but for the two rogue nations as well. India not only has the world's largest democracy, but also represents the biggest potential for economic expansion in Asia. Aligning ourselves with India allows us to make clear that we are not alone in the neighborhood of these two countries. India has as much interest in ending nuclear weapons development in both countries as we do, given their support for Islamist terror (Iran) and their willingness to sell weapons to anyone (North Korea). India has its own issues with Islamists in India, especially over the Kashmir territory. Having one billion Indians on our side, along with its acknowledged nuclear capacity, changes some calculations in the region -- including those made by Russia and China.
As Rice also notes, the IAEA and its chief, Mohammed ElBaradie, like this treaty for the precise reason of non-proliferation. India never signed the NPT and has never submitted to inspections. Under the terms of this treaty, India will submit to inspections of most of its facilities -- an improvement, if not an outright win. They will also agree to inspections on new facilities, and with eight reactors currently planned for construction, we may also have an opportunity to create jobs in the US for building and supporting their domestic energy production.
This also promotes democratization in very real terms, in keeping with the foreign-policy objectives of the Bush administration. It's no coincidence that Bush refused to give the Pakistanis the same offer he made India. He sent a message to the non-aligned countries thinking about their future energy needs. If a country wants to generate its own electricity independent of Arab sheikhs, the only way to achieve that will be to democratize. We're not going to trust the nuclear cycle to dictators or autocrats, but only to those nations which have transparent elected governments that accepts the basic values of liberty and freedom.
Lastly, on a geopolitical basis, this deal makes absolute sense if we are to ever confront Iran over its nuclear weapons. India needs oil coming through the Straits of Hormuz in order to keep its economy going. With an increase in nuclear power, that dependence diminishes. Not only does that help the environment (as Rice points out), but it lessens the leverage that Iran has over the world in this game of nuclear chess that Teheran insists on playing. Having India on our side, or at least less dependent on Iran, bolsters our own leverage in the coming showdown.
Congress starts its review of the treaty this week. Both chambers will have involvement as laws will need amendments in order to fully implement the deal. Hopefully this will sail through without the bitter partisanship that has become so much a part of our political process the past few years.Sphere It View blog reactions
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