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November 17, 2006
India Pact Approved

The Senate easily ratified what had been a controversial pact with India that allows nuclear cooperation between the two democracies for the first time. Republicans stopped a series of amendments that would have watered down the agreement, considered a historical tie between two nations that have rarely seen eye to eye on anything:

The Senate gave overwhelming approval late Thursday to President Bush’s deal for nuclear cooperation with India, a vote that expressed that a goal of nurturing India as an ally outweighed concerns over the risks of spreading nuclear know-how and bomb-making materials.

By a vote of 85 to 12, senators agreed to a program that would allow the United States to send nuclear fuel and technology to India, which has refused to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

The agreement, negotiated by President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India in March, calls for the United States to end a decades-long moratorium on sales of nuclear fuel and reactor components. For its part, India would divide its reactor facilities into civilian and military nuclear programs, with civilian facilities open to international inspections.

Critics have been unwavering in arguing that the pact would rally nations, such as North Korea and Iran, to press ahead with nuclear weapons programs despite international complaints and threats. Opponents of the measure also warned the deal would allow India to build more bombs with its limited stockpile of radioactive material, and could spur a regional nuclear arms race with Pakistan and China.

India, despite its strong traditions of democracy, has historically aligned itself with Third World nations and even the other Asian powers of Russia and China over the West. Some of that springs from its history in its eventual departure from the British Empire, but also relates to India's attempts to counter Western influences in the Eastern hemisphere.

This treaty comes as a coup for George Bush. He has managed to ally himself with both Pakistan and India in the middle of the war on terror, not an easy feat. The agreement allows India to start a massive effort to shift significant amounts of its energy needs from oil to nuclear power, relieving pressure on world markets as India ramps up its manufacturing and knowledge-based industries. More importantly, a strategic alliance with India puts diplomatic pressure on the other Asian powers, a counterweight to both Moscow and Beijing and their plans to spread their own hegemony through the region.

India had gone nuclear years before, and has refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty -- the same one that the US accuses Iran and North Korea of violating. Critics have pointed to this agreement as a form of diplomatic hypocrisy, but the truth is that India is a much different country than the other two. India has a stable democracy and a responsible and open government. Neither Iran nor North Korea can make that claim, and the US needs strong allies in the region to help maintain leverage against hotspots of terror, such as Indonesia and, of course, Iran.

India can be trusted, and the Bush administration showed good judgment in pursuing this treaty. The Senate showed a rare instance of bipartisanship in ratifying it. Perhaps that might herald a new period of cooperation between the parties on foreign policy, a development long overdue on such matters in the middle of a war.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 17, 2006 5:02 AM

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» US Senate approves nuclear deal with India from Security Watchtower
The witnesses at that hearing gave a good background as well on the issues and concerns involved, so give those a look, too. The roll call of the Senate vote can be seen here. You'll notice that despite the concerns, the ranking members on the Commit... [Read More]

Tracked on November 17, 2006 10:59 AM


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