Well, the Nuclear Suppliers Group has given India a cleanish waiver. It’s a good day for France and Russia — well, AREVA and Atomstroyexport. (I have my doubts about the future of Westinghouse in the Indian market, but oh well.) ACA has good coverage on the debacle.
Austrian officials are trying to slap some lipstick on this pig, pointing to a statement by Indian External Affairs Minister that reaffirmed India’s commitment to its “voluntary, unilateral” moratorium on nuclear testing, a commitment which is mentioned in the exemption. Here is that statement:
We remain committed to a voluntary, unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing. We do not subscribe to any arms race, including a nuclear arms race. We have always tempered the exercise of our strategic autonomy with a sense of global responsibility. We affirm our policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons.
We are committed to work with others towards the conclusion of a multilateral Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty in the Conference on Disarmament that is universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable.
It’s not much beyond the standard boilerplate, though I have to admit I wish President Bush would make a similar statement about US nuclear posture.
I worry this sets up a potential trainwreck:
- Indian officials believe they have what they seek: the legal commitments at the core of a strategy that will mitigate the consequences of a resumption of testing. (The fuel reserve, access to the international marketplace, etc.)
- NSG members, on the other hand, believe they have a political commitment, however weak, from India to refrain from testing and options to isolate India again in the event that it violates the pledge.
One of the two parties is wrong. I am not eager to find out which.
Another important story will be China’s role — although China didn’t appear in the news stories as prominently as Austria, Ireland and New Zealand, Beijing apparently played an active role in attempting to block the waiver behind the scenes. This will be a great case study for a dissertation on the new Chinese diplomacy.
Overcoming Chinese opposition apparently took a direct intervention from Bush to Chinese President Hu Jintao. I wonder what we had to trade for China’s cooperation?