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US-India Nuclear Deal Imminent

September 30, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

UPDATE: Slightly late update here, but I should note that this passed the Senate on 10/1/08. It will now be sent to President Bush, who is expected to sign it into law.

Original post…

Congress is rushing to complete a nuclear deal with India despite concerns that it could encourage nuclear proliferation around the world. The House passed the bill approving of the deal last week and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is pushing for the Senate to adopt it this week, perhaps as soon as tomorrow.

The bill would end a 30 year ban and allow the US to resume selling nuclear equipment, materials and technology to India. In exchange India would allow international inspections of its civilian nuclear power plants. Military nuclear plants would be exempted from inspections under the bill.

The New York Times today came out hard against Senate approval of the deal:

>President Bush and his aides were so eager for a foreign-policy success that they didn’t even try to get India to limit its weapons program in return. They got no promise from India to stop producing bombing-making material, no promise not to expand its arsenal and no promise not to resume nuclear testing.
>India is a democracy, a rising power that has sent many thousands of talented people to live and work in the United States. Mr. Bush has correctly chosen to build a new relationship with India.
>But he erred in making the nuclear deal the centerpiece of that relationship. And he erred in assuming that he could selectively break the nuclear rules for India and still argue that other countries had to do a lot more to rein in Iran. The deal approved by the House fails to meet legal requirements set previously by Congress.
>For example, it is not accompanied by a commitment by countries engaged in nuclear trade to ban transfers to India of enrichment and reprocessing equipment that is essential to weapons production. Also, it does not include a credible plan by the Indians for separating their military and civilian nuclear programs. The Senate should postpone action until the next Congress can figure out how to limit the damage from this deal.

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