The U.S.-India entente
So, dear readers, who do you agree with — John Bolton or George W. Bush? I ask because of this Washington Post story by Dana Milbank and Dafna Linzer: President Bush agreed yesterday to share civilian nuclear technology with India, reversing decades of U.S. policies designed to discourage countries from developing nuclear weapons. The agreement ...
So, dear readers, who do you agree with -- John Bolton or George W. Bush? I ask because of this Washington Post story by Dana Milbank and Dafna Linzer:
So, dear readers, who do you agree with — John Bolton or George W. Bush? I ask because of this Washington Post story by Dana Milbank and Dafna Linzer:
President Bush agreed yesterday to share civilian nuclear technology with India, reversing decades of U.S. policies designed to discourage countries from developing nuclear weapons. The agreement between Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which must win the approval of Congress, would create a major exception to the U.S. prohibition of nuclear assistance to any country that doesn’t accept international monitoring of all of its nuclear facilities. India has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires such oversight, and conducted its first nuclear detonation in 1974…. Under the terms of the deal, India agreed to place its civilian nuclear facilities — but not its nuclear weapons arsenal — under international monitoring and pledged to continue to honor a ban on nuclear testing. In return, it would have access, for the first time, to conventionalweapons systems and to sensitive U.S. nuclear technology that can be used in either a civilian or a military program. It could also free India to purchase the long sought-after Arrow Missile System developed by Israel with U.S. technology. The agreement does not call for India to cease production of weapons-grade uranium, which enables India to expand its nuclear arsenal. The United States did not offer support for India’s drive to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, and the sides did not reach agreement on India’s plan for a $4 billion pipeline delivering natural gas from Iran. The administration opposes the deal on grounds that it provides Iran with hard currency it can use for its own nuclear program. The White House faces two major hurdles to put the deal into effect. One is altering rules in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a consortium of more than 40 countries that controls export of nuclear technology. The group has been unreceptive to previous Bush administration initiatives and will be reluctant to create country-specific rules, said George Perkovich, a nuclear specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The other challenge will be persuading Congress to change the U.S. Nonproliferation Act, which prevents sales of sensitive nuclear technology to countries that refuse monitoring of nuclear facilities…. The India deal had been opposed by nonproliferation officials in Bush’s administration, including John R. Bolton, who was the administration’s point man on nuclear issues until March. Bolton, Bush’s nominee to become U.N. ambassador, argued that such cooperation would mean rewarding a country that built a nuclear weapon in secret, using technology it obtained under the guise of civilian power. Both North Korea and Iran are believed to have tried the same route to develop nuclear weapons. Some within the administration said the deal would be damaging at a time when the United States is trying to ratchet up international pressure on both those countries to give up their nuclear-weapons ambitions.
The Bush administration’s calculus is pretty obvious — they think the geopolitical benefits of a close relationship with India outweigh whatever norm violation has taken place because of how India acquired nuclear weapons. According to the Post article, a Carnegie Endowment paper by Ashley J. Tellis, “India as a New Global Power: An Action Agenda for the United States,” spells out the administration’s logic. UPDATE: Here’s a link to Sumit Ganguly’s take on Tellis’ argument from the pages of Foreign Affairs. Comment here on whether you think the tradeoff is worh it. My guess is that foreign policy analysts, regardless of idelology, will be split on this. Full disclosure: I’ve repeatedly advocated this move in a number of fora. The nonproliferation genie cannot be put back in the bottle for the subcontinent, and this move merely acknowledges reality [But what about the nonproliferation norm?–ed. Yeah, I don’t assign a whole lot of explanatory power to that.] UPDATE: The Economist does a nice job of spelling out the mixture of realpolitik and idealpolitik that’s behind this:
American and Indian officials both stress that the two countries? relationship is independent of their respective relations with China. Yet America?s stated ambition to help India ?become a major power in the twenty-first century? cannot be viewed in isolation from apprehensions about China?s looming might. Nor can India?s determination to secure good relations with America be separated from its own long-term suspicions of China, with which it is at present enjoying something of a second honeymoon. Both India and America recognise that, as democracies, they should have common interests. These were obscured by the legacy of the Cold War, which saw India lean towards the former Soviet Union, and America ?play the China card?. The inevitable Indo-American rapprochement was further delayed by the attacks on America on September 11th 2001 and by the subsequent importance of Pakistan in the ?war against terror?. Now, at last, India and America find themselves on the same side.
See this analysis by The Chistian Science Monitor‘s Howard LaFranchi as well.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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