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Council on Foreign Relations Press
Council Special Report No. 16
The recent nuclear deal concluded between the Bush administration and the government of India has highlighted tensions between two widely held American foreign policy objectives: strengthening bilateral relationships with major powers and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.
The agreement, which proposes to change decades-old policy, has stirred considerable controversy, particularly in Congress, which must amend long-standing law if the deal is to go through. In hearings during the past two months, members of Congress from both parties have expressed a desire to find a strategy that contributes to an improved relationship with India without sacrificing American nonproliferation interests.
In this Council Special Report, Council Fellows Michael A. Levi and Charles D. Ferguson propose such a strategy. Rather than focusing on only one dimension of the challenge, they explain the implications of the nuclear deal for both U.S. policy toward India and U.S. nonproliferation policy. This leads them to propose a focused set of nonproliferation bottom lines that Congress should enforce through its legislation, while also prompting them to counsel against more extreme nuclear-related measures that would certainly scuttle the U.S.-India accord and set back prospects of improvement in an increasingly important bilateral relationship. They also argue that Congress should hold hearings to promote a broad reassessment of American nonproliferation strategy. The result is a thoughtful product that merits careful consideration by members of Congress, the administration, and other interested parties in both the United States and India.
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Michael A. Levi is a fellow for science and technology at the Council on Foreign Relations. Before joining the Council, Dr. Levi was a nonresident science fellow and a science and technology fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution. He is coauthor of The Future of Arms Control (Brookings, 2005), which proposed new principles for controlling dangerous technologies in a world fraught by terrorism, and of Untapped Potential: U.S. Science and Technology Cooperation with the Islamic World (Brookings, 2005), which explored new opportunities for engaging Muslim publics. Dr. Levi holds a PhD from the University of London (King’s College), where he was affiliated with the department of war studies and was the SSHRC William E. Taylor Fellow, and an MA in Physics from Princeton University.
Charles D. Ferguson is a fellow for science and technology at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also an adjunct assistant professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and an adjunct lecturer at the Johns Hopkins University . Before coming to the Council, Dr. Ferguson was scientist-in-residence at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies of the Monterey Institute of International Studies. At the Center, he codirected a project that systematically assessed how to prevent and respond to nuclear and radiological terrorism. This project’s major findings were published in The Four Faces of Nuclear Terrorism (Routledge, 2005). He is also the lead author of the award-winning report Commercial Radioactive Sources: Surveying the Security Risks, which examined the threat of radiological dispersal devices, such as “dirty bombs.” Dr. Ferguson has also worked on nuclear safety issues in the Nonproliferation Bureau at the U.S. Department of State. After graduating with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy, he served as a nuclear engineering officer on a ballistic-missile submarine. He holds a PhD in physics from Boston University.