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Criticism Mounts for U.S.-India Pact

Prepared by: Esther Pan
January 25, 2006

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Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns met with Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran in New Delhi last week to negotiate the terms of a far-reaching deal on civilian nuclear energy agreed to by President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last summer. The proposed deal—outlined here in this new CFR Background Q&A—would give U.S. assistance and civilian nuclear technology to India as part of unprecedented U.S. efforts to forge closer ties with India (WashPost). But experts and members of Congress are raising doubts about the deal, claiming it could help New Delhi develop even more nuclear weapons. India, which has conducted nuclear tests, is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which promotes the use of civilian nuclear energy for countries that foreswear nuclear weapons.

CFR Fellow Charles Ferguson leads a roundtable discussion on U.S.-India nuclear cooperation, while nuclear expert David Albright testifies before Congress on the deal's likely impact on non-proliferation (PDF). The Congressional Research Service examines the consequences of U.S.-India nuclear cooperation (PDF); Henry Sokolski testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations committee on the threats to the non-proliferation regime presented by the agreement and analyzes its strategic impact for the French Institute of International and Strategic Relations in Paris.

William Potter writes in Nonproliferation Review and Lawrence Scheinman tells cfr.org's Bernard Gwertzman in an interview that the deal would undermine half a century of U.S. support for nonproliferation. Daryl Kimball writes in Arms Control Today that the benefits of the deal are illusory, saying it could cause "severe damage" to the nonproliferation regime, while Robert Einhorn accuses the United States of nuclear hypocrisy in the National Interest.

On the other side, Ashley Tellis defends the India deal in congressional testimony, saying it is in the U.S. interest to assist India in becoming a strong, independent, democratic nation. He asserts the nuclear deal will subject India to the same restrictions as NPT nations and will not damage nonproliferation efforts around the world, as India is a democracy and not a proliferation risk.

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