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Archive for the ‘US’ Category

Bill Clinton: US India Nuclear Deal “Should be Supported,” But Keeps Door Open to Revisions

Posted by K.E. White on March 13, 2008

In an apparent sign of things maybe–maybe not–to come, Bill Clinton indicated his support for the US-India nuclear deal. This is not shocking, given Hillary’s vigorous support for the US India nuclear deal. But former President Clinton did leave the door open to revisions–suggesting another grueling round of negotiations should his wife, Hillary Clinton, be elected President this November.

From Sify News:

Underlining strong bipartisan consensus for the deal in his country, he said the US has a made “a decision across parties to build strategic partnership with India in the 21st century”.

“The deal could have been stronger on the “non-proliferation side”, Clinton replied when asked what portions of the deal he would have liked to change if he were the President.

“We did not want to give the Chinese an excuse to develop nuclear weapons,” Clinton replied when asked why such a deal could not be reached during his tenure as the president between 1992 to 2000.

“The agreement should be supported. There’s a strong level of trust between India and the US. The US would be willing should Indians wish to revisit some provisions of the deal,” Clinton said when asked whether a Democratic Party administration would like to renegotiate the deal if they come to power next year.

Is Bill speaking for himself, or rather the policy of a Hillary Clinton administration? Only time will tell.

For more on Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy, read her recent policy brief in Foreign Affairs.

The Decemeber 2007 brief does touch on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT):

But we lost that opportunity by refusing to let the UN inspectors finish their work in Iraq and rushing to war instead. Moreover, we diverted vital military and financial resources from the struggle against al Qaeda and the daunting task of building a Muslim democracy in Afghanistan. At the same time, we embarked on an unprecedented course of unilateralism: refusing to pursue ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, abandoning our commitment to nuclear nonproliferation, and turning our backs on the search for peace in the Middle East. Our withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol and refusal to participate in any international effort to deal with the tremendous challenges of climate change further damaged our international standing.

Posted in America, Clinton, India, Nuclear Deal, US | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Australia’s Nuclear Evolution: CNS Investigates the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone and Australia’s Current Stance Towards Uranium Sales to India

Posted by K.E. White on August 30, 2007

Summary: Sizes up a short report by the Center for Nonproliferation Studies. Is Australia violating a treaty—the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone—if it goes ahead with plans to sell India uranium? CNS probes this question, suggesting there is reason to think so. Proliferation Press looks into the question, and finds that it seems Australia is 1) not violating the treaty and 2) would actually go against the spirit of the treaty by refusing to approve the US-India nuclear deal at the upcoming meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. But all this analysis merely displays how much the treaty regime depends on the policies of the announced nuclear powers.

The Center of Nonproliferation Studies is running this interesting report studying whether or not Australia would violate international law if it goes through with plans to sell uranium to India.

The South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone (SPNFZ) reads, in part:

Each Party undertakes:

(a) not to provide source or special fissionable material, or equipment or material especially designed or prepared for the processing, use or production of special fissionable material for peaceful purposes to:

(i) any non-nuclear-weapon State unless subject to the safeguards required by Article III.1 of the NPT [Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty], or

(ii) any nuclear-weapon State unless subject to applicable safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Any such provisions shall be in accordance with strict non-proliferation measures to provide assurance of exclusively peaceful non-explosive use;

(b) to support the continued effectiveness of the international non-proliferation system based on the NPT and the IAEA safeguards system.

Now while the CNS report shows well that Australian officials saw, in the past, the SPNFZ as barring uranium sales to India, the report does not take a definitive stance:

If Australia is legally barred from nuclear trade with India in light of the statements of the Foreign Affairs Department, for Australia to vote in favor of ending the Nuclear Suppliers Group embargo would be to authorize others to do what it cannot under the South Pacific treaty. This might be seen as violating the spirit, if not the letter, of the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone pact.

Yes, if Australia is “legally barred” from a certain act and then does it—it broke the treaty.

But is Australia breaking the treaty? Australia is obliged “not to provide source of special fissionable material” unless one of two conditions are met. The first condition requires NPT safeguards to be met. This would seem impossible since India is not even a member of the NPT.

But the second condition states:

“any nuclear-weapon State unless subject to applicable safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).”

The IAEA endorsed the US-India nuclear deal, or at least their head ELBaradei:

“This agreement is an important step towards satisfying India´s growing need for energy, including nuclear technology and fuel, as an engine for development. It would also bring India closer as an important partner in the non-proliferation regime,” he said. “It would be a milestone, timely for ongoing efforts to consolidate the non-proliferation regime, combat nuclear terrorism and strengthen nuclear safety.”

“The agreement would assure India of reliable access to nuclear technology and nuclear fuel. It would also be a step forward towards universalisation of the international safeguards regime,” Dr. ElBaradei said. “This agreement would serve the interests of both India and the international community.”

As such the IAEA governing board will have to improve inspections of India’s nuclear sites. Now while this might not be finalized when Australia votes on the US-India nuclear deal at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), any ‘yes’ vote at the NSG will be premised on successfully completed IAEA negotiations.

Rediff looks into this “long and hazardous” process of gaining dual approval from the NSG and IAEA:

The negotiations on an India-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA Governing Board and talks with members of the NSG to seek an exception for India are likely to be long and hazardous. The United States has considerable influence in the IAEA Board and, as the founder of the NSG it has the necessary clout to determine the outcome of the informal group. But, over the years, positions of individual countries have crystallized in these bodies and they are likely to give us a hard time despite the US being our ‘sherpa’ on the climb.

It would seem India 1) getting the blessing of the IAEA chief and 2) undergoing IAEA approval could be read as being “subject to applicable safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

And what is the intent of these two SPNFZ exceptions? “[T]o support the continued effectiveness of the international non-proliferation system based on the NPT and the IAEA safeguards system.”

It would seem approving a deal that America (a leading, recognized nuclear power under the NPT) is vying for meets that intent.

Now could a new American president change this calculus? Yes. The point here, though, is that it seems any hard prohibition against Australia selling uranium to India appears to stand on weak foundations.

The CNS report, while not taking a firm stand but simply highlighting past views of Australian officials, suggests Australia has reason to vote against the US-India nuclear during the NSG meeting. But it seems there is more reason—given current IAEA approval, apparent backing from Russia and China, and ongoing IAEA deliberations—that Australia voting against the US-India nuclear deal might do more harm to nonproliferation aims.

Posted in America, Australia, Center for Nonproliferation Studies, China, ElBaradei, IAEA, Leah Kuchinsky, Leonard S. Spector, South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone, U.S. India Nuclear Deal, US | Leave a Comment »

Milking Proliferation Diplomacy: China’s Coming, But ‘Definately’ Unhappy, Consent

Posted by K.E. White on August 14, 2007

China may move to endorse the U.S. India Nuclear Deal, but this People’s Daily Editorial shows the tight spot US nonproliferation diplomacy is headed for:

Consequently, Washington, in exercising double standards on the nuclear issue of India, have sent a signal of danger to the world, by spoiling its authority on the international arena, damaging the existing non-proliferation system and beating global efforts towards non-proliferation.
It is quite obvious that the US generosity in helping India develop nuclear energy is partly due to its hegemony idea, which made it regardless of others’ opinions, and partly due to the intention of drawing India in as a tool for its global strategic pattern.
But the result might turn out not so satisfactory since India, out of practical political considerations, only wants to size the opportunity and rise as a big power. An Indian scholar put it frankly: India’s DNA doesn’t allow itself to become an ally subordinate to the US, just like Japan or Britain.

Pro-deal Heritage wonks should read that last paragraph a few times before touting the deal’s capacity to bring America into the NPT or pro-US fold.

Posted in Baker Spring, China, Heritage Foundation, India, Lisa Curtis, Nuclear Deal, People's Daily, U.S. India Nuclear Deal, US | 1 Comment »

Is America Losing Pakistan to China?

Posted by K.E. White on March 27, 2007

Syed Mohammad Ali’s take on India and Pakistan’s place on the geo-strategic chess board:

Pakistan is thus keen on developing even closer ties with China. Ignored by the US, Pakistan is now undertaking nuclear energy cooperation with China. There are plans to build six more nuclear reactors, besides the one already built with Chinese help in Chasma. China has helped Pakistan build the Gawadar deep-sea port as well. For Pakistan, Gwadar’s distance from India is of strategic importance. Gwadar also provides China a foothold in the Arabian Sea, which heightens India’s feeling of encirclement by China. But China is currently more interested in getting a strategic foothold near the Persian Gulf region, vis-à-vis the US. China is in fact on a path of rapprochement with India, but unlike the US it remains more cautious about not sidelining Pakistan in this process.

There are internal compulsions requiring greater cooperation despite the lingering tensions between previously hostile neighbours. Cooperation in the energy sector to fuel economic growth is one such example, although this example is not free of contentions either. One of the proposed projects is a gas pipeline between Pakistan, Iran and India, and Turkmenistan, India and Afghanistan, respectively. Many experts have opined that there is no evidence of huge quantities of gas in Turkmenistan to justify the laying of a pipeline. Besides, the government in Kabul is in no position to guarantee the security of such a pipeline. Moreover, it would be difficult to raise finances for such a risky project in Western financial markets, even though the US is more in favour of this pipeline than one going through Iran.


Besides an escalation of violence in Afghanistan and creating more turmoil in Pakistan, another immediate consequence of a strike on Iran as part of a broadening of the US ‘war against terror’ would be a humanitarian crisis in terms of the movement of refugees into the Herat, Farah and Nimruz provinces of Afghanistan, and towards Balochistan in Pakistan. An influx of Irani refugees into Afghanistan would no doubt destablise an already fragile Afghan government. Already, Pakistan has announced that all 2.4 million Afghan refugees must return home by 2009, despite the Afghan government’s inability to ensure their adequate resettlement.

Posted in China, India, Pakistan, Syed Mohammad Ali, US | Leave a Comment »