Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

US-India Nuclear Deal: Nuclear Diplomacy Between the US and China

Posted by K.E. White on August 23, 2007

Summary: Carl Robichaud details the looming conflict between America and China when the US-India nuclear deal comes up at the Nuclear Suppliers Group. China’s apparent approval of the deal rests on a key condition: that NSG regulations regarding undeclared nuclear states (India, Israel and Pakistan) be standardized. Naturally America would prefer an India exception—as to open the flood gates to other, less desired nuclear cooperation between nation-states.

From the World Politics Review

A deal that brings India into the nuclear fold — giving India access to technology and fuel in return for enhanced oversight of its activities — is not a bad idea per se. But the current deal is a loser because it carves out an exception rather than undergirding these changes in rules and standards of general applicability. Perhaps under a different American leader the pact might be perceived more positively, but in the context of the Bush administration’s six-year subversion of the rules-based international order, allies and adversaries alike see it as nothing more than another example of American “exemptionalism.”

The alternative, which China has proposed, is revising the NSG to include a set of criteria that any undeclared nuclear states (read: Israel and Pakistan) could aspire to meet. China’s motives may be transparent — if Washington wants to open the floodgates, Beijing insists on the chance to do the same — but the underlying principles are sound: a “criteria based” approach, applied stringently, would enhance the legitimacy of the NSG regime and would provide incentives for bringing the Pakistani program out of the shadows.

Any attempt to pressure the NSG to create an “India loophole” is likely to backfire. Michael Krepon of the Stimson Center has observed that “One key assumption behind the deal is especially important — that the relaxation of nuclear export controls can be confined to India alone. If this assumption is wrong, downside proliferation risks will be open-ended.” Bending the rules to benefit an ally would undermine the universality of nonproliferation principles at a time when America needs them most. Without adherence to a rules-based system, there is little hope of assembling the sort of broad-based coalition necessary to impede Iran’s march toward nuclearization or to roll back North Korea’s program.

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