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US nuclear cooperation with India is needed: Expert

Written by: Staff

Washington, Apr 24 : Saying that the U S civilian nuclear deal with India could be a good starting point to regulate nuclear weapons, well-known South Asia expert Selig Harrison makes out a strong case against the NPT and why India needs the technology for its energy needs.

Writing in the Washington Post yesterday he questioned why sould India, with a spotless nonproliferation record, be denied access to the U S civilian nuclear technology for electricity, while China -- which helped Pakistan and Iran in their efforts to acquire nuclear weapons -- can have it.

Mr Harrison says that the inequitable structure of the nuclear has resulted in built-in discrimination in favor of China and against India that has made it necessary and justifiable for the administration to conclude its civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with New Delhi.

The NPT is based on a legalistic fiction that underpins this discrimination. When it was concluded in 1968, only the five states that had already tested nuclear weapons were permitted to sign as ''nuclear weapons states.'' China, which had tested in 1964, got in just under the wire. India tested in 1974.

Quoting another expert Robert Kagan he sais the NPT ''erected a gargantuan double standard.'' Since membership in the nuclear 'club' was not based on justice or morality or strategic judgment or politics but simply on circumstance: Whoever had figured out how to build nuclear weapons by 1968 was in which sounds like a mindless kind of double standard.

He says that Article Six of the NPT envisaged an eventual end to this double standard. The United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, France and China pledged to phase out their nuclear weapons. But they have since largely ignored this commitment. Indeed, the nuclear ''haves'' reinforced the double standard by refusing to accept the same permanent safeguards on their civilian nuclear reactors required of non-nuclear signatories by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Without these ''in-perpetuity'' safeguards, all five, including Beijing, can shift fissile material from civilian to military use whenever they choose.

By contrast, India has accepted a rigid separation of civilian and military facilities under its pending nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States by agreeing to IAEA safeguards ''in perpetuity.'' This was a major diplomatic achievement by the U S negotiators; in fact, the Manmohan Singh government in New Delhi is being bitterly attacked for accepting a ''second class'' status that does not apply to China.


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