'India has behaved better than some countries that have signed the NPT '
, as one of the Senate's most vocal voices against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, your support for the India-US nuclear accord came as a surprise. Could you spell out the reasons for your support?
Let me make it clear. What I said at the press conference, what I have said every time, what I said to the prime minister, to everybody else, that I support the basic direction of the agreement, but the t's have to be crossed, the i's have to be dotted, the agreement has to be put in full language and in that regard Secretary Burns (Under Secretary Nicholas R Burns, who is supervising the progress of the agreement for the Bush administration) is coming here to discuss the separation of civilian and military (nuclear) facilities.
That is important. I want to see that and see that is clearly done. I want the final structure and language of the agreement to make certain that we are strengthening the non proliferation agreement. Let me give you an example. Non proliferation is not just passing fissile material or technology to another country, it is also building additional nuclear weapons, it is not growing your nuclear arsenal. So it is important for India to make very clear where we are headed in the long run here.
Does that mean that you can't have an agreement? No. But I think it is important to have a framework where we understand where we are going.
In principle, this agreement is good because it takes a State that has a nuclear programme, that is outside of the IAEA (the International Atomic Energy Agency) and brings a majority of it (nuclear programme) inside the IAEA. On the face of it, that is a positive step.
Secondly, by doing so, it encourages, I think, other countries to recognize that there is a respect for the IAEA process.
India has, in fact, behaved better than some countries that have signed the NPT (Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty). It seems to me that it would be irrational for us not to recognize that kind of good behaviour and to turn our backs on bad behaviour by people who signed the NPT. That just doesn't make sense in my book.
I think there is a way to make this (the nuclear agreement) positive with respect to the non proliferation effort I care about but positive also for the India-America relationship.
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