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Thursday, July 27, 2006

"If You Want to Be Treated Like India, Be Like India"

Gary Ackerman, US Congressman from the state of New York and long time supporter of India in Washington, made a floor speech in US Congress on July 26, 2006, on the eve of passage of Indo-US nuclear deal.

"Critics have expressed concerns regarding the bill's impact on our non-proliferation policy and clearly, Iran, Pakistan and North Korea are all looking for clues about what this deal means for them and their nuclear programmes. What do you tell Pakistan and Iran and North Korea? Well, you tell them this: If you want to be treated like India, be like India. Be a responsible international actor with regard to weapons of mass destruction technologies. Don't sell your nuclear technologies to the highest bidder. Don't provide it to terrorists. Be a democracy -- a real democracy like India and work with us on important foreign policy objectives and not against us.


I think the choice is clear: if you want the IAEA to inspect India's civilian nuclear facilities, then you're for this bill; if you want India to be obligated to adhere to the Missile Technology Control Regime for the first time, then you're for the bill; if you want them to comply for the first time with the Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines, then you're for the bill; if you want to send a clear message to nuclear rogue states about how to behave, then you're for the bill; and if you want a broad, deep and enduring strategic relationship with India, then you are for the bill!"

Need I say more?

And here is what Tom Lantos, Congressman from California and Ranking member (committee leader of Democrats in Republican ruled US Congress) of the powerful House International Relations Committee, offered to non-proliferation concerns in US Congress:

"And Mr Chairman, our bill addresses those concerns thoroughly. It requires the President to make several determinations to Congress. Among these, the President must determine:

· that India has concluded a credible plan to separate civilian and military nuclear facilities;

· that India has concluded a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency that will apply safeguards in perpetuity to India's civil nuclear facilities, materials and programs;

· that India is harmonizing its export control laws and regulations to match those of the so-called Nuclear Suppliers Group; and

· that India is actively supporting US efforts to conclude a fissile material cutoff treaty."

Those conditions sound pretty benign to me. Separation of civil and defense reactors is plus for India; agreement with IAEA on civil reactors should not be an issue; India already has export controls; and lastly actively supporting US efforts on FMCT is not same as US tying up India and Pak in some smaller version of FMCT.

Lots of people say lots things during the hearings and elsewhere; but they don't become law. I am still convinced this nuclear deal is in India's interest.