Nuclear reaction

The fact that the Bush administration acknowledged yesterday that they’d known about Pakistan’s efforts to build another large nuclear reactor – which could produce enough plutonium for 50 bombs each year – and failed to tell Congress about it would be unfortunate on any day. That this news comes just ahead of a vote in ...

607739_Nuclearplant5.jpg
607739_Nuclearplant5.jpg

The fact that the Bush administration acknowledged yesterday that they'd known about Pakistan's efforts to build another large nuclear reactor - which could produce enough plutonium for 50 bombs each year - and failed to tell Congress about it would be unfortunate on any day. That this news comes just ahead of a vote in the House on the U.S.-India nuclear deal - an agreement Bush has strenuously supported - should make everyone a little suspicious. Congress shouldn't have learned about the new reactor from independent analysts who just happened to spot the construction on satellite photos.

The reactor has been under construction for awhile (that's a different plant in Pakistan pictured above) so the special treatment Pakistan's neighbor is receiving from the U.S. hasn't pushed it to break new ground. But the last thing anyone wants is a renewed South Asian arms race. Pakistan upping its weapons production is certainly something that India will pay close attention to, and something that should be considered carefully by Congress before voting on the U.S.-India deal, which allows the US to sell nuclear materials and technology to India, in exchange for safeguards on civilian nuclear facilities in India. But there's a lot of concern among experts about the continued lack of oversight over India's weapons program. In a new ForeignPolicy.com exclusive, nonproliferation experts Thomas Graham, Leonor Tomero, and Leonard Weiss debunk the so-called benefits of the deal and argue that giving India special nuclear treatment will just complicate efforts to get Iran, North Korea, and others to avoid the nuke route.

The fact that the Bush administration acknowledged yesterday that they’d known about Pakistan’s efforts to build another large nuclear reactor – which could produce enough plutonium for 50 bombs each year – and failed to tell Congress about it would be unfortunate on any day. That this news comes just ahead of a vote in the House on the U.S.-India nuclear deal – an agreement Bush has strenuously supported – should make everyone a little suspicious. Congress shouldn’t have learned about the new reactor from independent analysts who just happened to spot the construction on satellite photos.

The reactor has been under construction for awhile (that’s a different plant in Pakistan pictured above) so the special treatment Pakistan’s neighbor is receiving from the U.S. hasn’t pushed it to break new ground. But the last thing anyone wants is a renewed South Asian arms race. Pakistan upping its weapons production is certainly something that India will pay close attention to, and something that should be considered carefully by Congress before voting on the U.S.-India deal, which allows the US to sell nuclear materials and technology to India, in exchange for safeguards on civilian nuclear facilities in India. But there’s a lot of concern among experts about the continued lack of oversight over India’s weapons program. In a new ForeignPolicy.com exclusive, nonproliferation experts Thomas Graham, Leonor Tomero, and Leonard Weiss debunk the so-called benefits of the deal and argue that giving India special nuclear treatment will just complicate efforts to get Iran, North Korea, and others to avoid the nuke route.

Carolyn O'Hara is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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