Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Bush's Commendable Agreement with India
In an editorial yesterday the New York Times criticized President Bush’s recent agreement to supply India with nuclear technology in return for opening most Indian reactors to international inspection. Much as I hate to defend the President’s foreign policy, the Times editorial is wrong and Bush showed political courage in signing this agreement. True, the administration’s anti-proliferation policy is a joke. They scold other countries for seeking to develop nuclear capabilities while simultaneously seeking to upgrade and maintain American nuclear capability. This not only violates the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it renders efforts to encourage regional powers like Iran and North Korea to forgo nuclear capability hypocritical and futile. However, Bush’s agreement with India is commendable on two counts: it acknowledges reality and it is in the American national interest. First, in opening India’s reactors to some inspection, he recognizes that Indian nuclear power is a fact and ushers them, at least partly, into the legitimate nuclear club. Also, unlike their neighbor Pakistan, the Indians have been a responsible nuclear power and deserve to be treated as such. By offering American technology, it offers an incentive to continue this responsible behavior. Second, judging from Prime Minister Singh’s excitement, this is an important step for the Indians. Anything the U.S. can do to improve its sometimes uneasy relations with Asia’s largest democracy and a vital emerging market is a good thing. Of course, the U.S. needs to develop a new, coherent policy on anti-proliferation. Until that comes, however, this is a sensible bilateral agreement.