BUSH breaks the law by unilaterally breaking non-nuclear proliferation treaty
BUSH breaks the law by unilaterally breaking non-nuclear proliferation treaty without Congressional approval or even informing his Cabinet
He did it again, but this time its worse!
Mar 4, 2006
The US's nuclear cave-in
By Joseph Cirincione
Buffeted by political turmoil at home, US President George W Bush sought a foreign-affairs victory in India. To clinch a nuclear-weapons deal, Bush had to give in to demands from the Indian nuclear lobby to exempt large portions of the country's nuclear infrastructure from international inspection.
With details of the deal still under wraps, it appears that at least one-third of current and planned Indian reactors would be exempt from International Atomic Energy Agency inspections and that Bush gave in to Indian demands for "Indian-specific" inspections that would fall far short of the normal, full-scope inspections
originally sought. Worse, Indian officials have made clear that India alone will decide which future reactors will be kept in the military category and exempt from any safeguards.
The deal endorses and assists India's nuclear-weapons program. US-supplied uranium fuel would free up India's limited uranium reserves for fuel that otherwise would be burned in these reactors to make nuclear weapons. This would allow India to increase its production from the estimated six to 10 additional nuclear bombs per year to several dozen a year. India today has enough separated plutonium for 75-110 nuclear weapons, though it is not known how many it has actually produced.
The Indian leaders and press are crowing about their victory over the United States. For good reason: President Bush has done what Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and his own father refused to do - break US and international law to aid India's nuclear-weapons program. In 1974, India cheated on its agreements with the United States and other nations to do what Iran is accused of doing now: using a peaceful nuclear energy program to build a nuclear bomb. India used plutonium produced in a Canadian-supplied reactor to detonate a bomb it then called a "peaceful nuclear device". In response, president Richard Nixon and Congress stiffened US laws and Nixon organized the Nuclear Suppliers Group to prevent any other nation from following India's example.
Bush has now unilaterally shattered those guidelines, and his action would violate the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) proscription against aiding another nation's nuclear-weapons program. It would require the repeal or revision of several major US laws, including the US Nonproliferation Act. Nor has he won any significant concessions from India. India refuses to agree to end its production of nuclear-weapons material, something the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China have already done.
This is where Bush is likely to run into trouble. Republicans and Democrats in the US Congress are deeply concerned about the deal and the way it was crafted. Keeping with the Bush administration's penchant for secrecy, the deal was cooked by a handful of senior officials (one of whom is now a lobbyist for the Indian government) and never reviewed by the departments of State, Defense or Energy before it was announced with a champagne toast by Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Congress was never consulted. Republican committee staff say the first members heard about it was when the fax announcing the deal came into their offices. Worse, for the president, this appears to be another give away to a foreign government at the expense of US national-security interests.
In addition to breaking US law and shattering long-standing barriers to proliferation, lawmakers are concerned about the example the nuclear-weapons deal sets for other nations. The lesson Iran is likely to draw is simple: if you hold out long enough, the Americans will cave. All this talk about violating treaties, they will reason, is just smoke. When the Americans think you are important enough, they will break the rules to accommodate you.
Pakistani officials have already said they expect their country to receive a similar deal, and Israel is surely waiting in the wings. Other nations may decide that they can break the rules, too, to grant special deals to their friends. China is already rumored to be seeking a deal to provide open nuclear assistance to Pakistan - a practice it stopped in the early 1990s after a successful diplomatic campaign by the United States to bring China into conformity with the NPT restrictions. Will Russia decide that it can make an exception for Iran?
Lawmakers loyal to Bush are already signaling tough times ahead for this deal. Republican Congressman Ed Royce, chairman of the Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Nonproliferation, offered the following statement after the deal was announced: "There is enthusiastic support on Capitol Hill for growing US-India ties. However, the US-India agreement on civil nuclear cooperation has implications beyond US-India relations. In this process, the goal of curbing nuclear proliferation should be paramount. Congress will continue its careful consideration of this far-reaching agreement."
Royce's subcommittee has oversight and legislative responsibilities over non-proliferation matters. Republican Senator Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has made no secret of his concerns, as has Republican Congressman Henry Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee. Democratic Congressman Edward Markey says, "America cannot credibly preach nuclear temperance from a barstool. We can't tell Iran, a country that has signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, that they can't have [uranium] enrichment technologies while simultaneously carving out a special exemption from nuclear-proliferation laws for India, a nation that has refused to sign the treaty."
This looming congressional battle will pit the proliferation fighters against the nuclear lobby and the increasingly powerful India lobby. Companies and countries (including France, Canada and Russia) are lining up to sell fuel and reactors to India. They will be joined by the US neo-conservatives who seek to construct an anti-China alliance. For them, as one architect of the India deal reportedly said, "The problem is not that India has too many nuclear weapons, it is that they do not have enough."
If Bush were riding high in the polls and had a string of national-security victories behind him, this David-and-Goliath battle would be won by the nuclear giants. But with sagging popularity, deep concern over his leadership, and anger at his administration's disregard for laws and consultation, lawmakers more concerned about proliferation than profits could block or amend this deal. The president may have made a fatal error in putting nuclear weapons at the heart of improved US-India relations. US lawmakers want the latter, but not at the price of the former.
Dr Joseph Cirincione (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the director for non-proliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC.
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