This Nuclear Agreement Is No Deal

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that the controversial U.S.-India nuclear proposal expands "the reach of the international nonproliferation regime" [op-ed, March 13], but saying so doesn't make it true.

Ms. Rice exaggerated the deal's only tangible "gain" when she said that the "International Atomic Energy Agency would gain access . . . that it currently does not have." India has agreed to put only eight reactors under safeguards in addition to the six it had committed to that category. Ms. Rice said international oversight "will also apply to all of India's future civilian reactors," but as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on March 7, India will decide whether facilities are "civilian." Such partial safeguards in a nuclear weapons state are symbol, not substance.

Ms. Rice also ignored that the proposal implicitly endorses, if not indirectly assists, India's bomb program. The plan allows India to keep enough military nuclear capacity to increase production from six to 10 weapons annually to as many as several dozen weapons annually. Foreign nuclear fuel also would free India to use its limited domestic uranium reserves solely for building weapons.

Congress should require New Delhi to end the production of fissile material for weapons and accept meaningful safeguards on all energy-producing nuclear facilities and materials. Otherwise, the deal is a dangerous sellout of core U.S. nonproliferation values and a catalyst for an Asian arms race.

DARYL G. KIMBALL

Executive Director

Arms Control Association

Washington


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