The House will vote tomorrow on a bill that will exempt India from certain requirements of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (H.R.5682). This comes on the heels of The Washington Post’s Monday report of satellite photos revealing the construction of a plutonium production reactor that will allow Pakistan to produce 50 nuclear bombs a year—the same number that India could produce with the passage of this legislation.
In order to prevent the escalation of an arms race between India and Pakistan, Congress must append the United States and India Nuclear Cooperation Promotion Act to make nuclear cooperation contingent on a promise from India to stop manufacturing materials for nuclear weapons. The Bush administration originally included this assurance in negotiations, but caved to demands from India to drop the condition. Congress must insist on adding this amendment to the legislation.
The Bush administration deserves credit for strengthening bilateral cooperation with India on issues ranging from energy to development. Yet its handling of nuclear cooperation with India jeopardizes vital U.S. national security interests.
Last year the White House agreed to help India further develop its civilian nuclear technology, despite the country’s refusal to sign the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Under current U.S. law, a country must inter alia be an NPT signatory in order for the United States to engage in civilian nuclear cooperation with it.
Now, Congress is considering further nuclear cooperation with India without assurance that the aid will not be used to create weapons and fuel an arms race with Pakistan. As the House considers America’s nuclear cooperation with India tomorrow, we urge them to add an amendment to the United States and India Nuclear Cooperation Promotion Act that will allow for aid only as long as India abstains from manufacturing the materials for nuclear weapons.
For more information on the Center's stance on India’s nuclear development, see: