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Rice defends Indo-US nuclear deal as net gain for non-proliferation

Written by: Staff

Washington, Apr 5 (UNI) US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged the lawmakers to lend their support to the Indo-US civilian nuclear initiative as it was important to the United States and global non-proliferation regime.

In her testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee here today she said, ''President Bush and I look forward to the Congress as a full partner in this initiative. Your support to this legislation is crucial and we ask you to lend it.'' ''Together we can seize this tremendous opportunity to solidify a key partnership that will advance American interests,'' she added.

Rice asserted, ''this deal is positive for United States national security interest because it will help us first cement our strategic partnership with India, which is very important for our global interests.'' ''we believe we can address criticisms and I will address them here,'' She said.

''First India would never accept a unilateral freeze or cap on its nuclear arsenal. We raised this with the Indians, but the Indians said the deal's plans and policies must take into account regional realities. No one can credibly assert that India would accept what would amount to an arms control agreement that did not include other key countries, like China and Pakistan,'' she explained.

''Second the initiative with India does not seek to renegotiate or amend the NPT. India is not and is not going to become a member of the NPT as a nuclear weapons state. We are simply seeking to address an untenable situation. India has never been party to the NPT but this agreement does bring India into the non-proliferation framework and thus strengthen the regime.'' She ruled out the possibility of an arms race in South Asia after the deal.

''Nothing we or any other potential international suppliers provide to India under this intiative will enhance its military capacity or add to its military stockpile. Moreover, the nuclear balance in the region is a function of the political and military situation in the region.'' ''We are far more likely to be able to influence those regional dynamics from a position of strong relations with India and indeed with Pakistan,'' she said.

She said, ''this initiative does not complicate our policies towards countries like North Korea or Iran. It is simply not credible to compare India to North Korea or to Iran. While Iran and North Korea are violating their IAEA obligations, India is making new obligations by bringing the IAEA into the India program and seeking peaceful international cooperation.'' More UNI XC PM BS2201

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