The United States and India have signed a pact on civil nuclear cooperation during President George W. Bush's early March visit to India. While hailing the US-Indian relations entered a historic 'new stage', an expert from Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) held the pact actually signaled a great challenge to the international nuclear non-proliferation system.
Fan Jishe, associate research fellow from American Studies in CASS analyzes that the pact means the US has abandoned its condition of accepting IAEA's full supervision in nuclear cooperation with non-nuclear countries.
In the pact, the US agrees to transfer its civil nuclear technology and uranium fuel to India while India agrees to separate its civil and military nuclear infrastructure and only put the civil nuclear facility which was estimated only one third of its infrastructure under the international inspection.
Fan Jishe says in his article published on People's Daily that the US has to revise several existing non-proliferation laws to make the pact valid. As a vanguard in this field, to revise these laws means the US has changed its basic stance on the nuclear non-proliferation issue. After the 9.11 incident, the US has always called on other countries to consolidate export control to contain spread of nuclear, but now it wants to relax such a control, which obviously goes against its own words.
The article says that the rule of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has to be changed, too. The 44 member group, formed due to India's proliferation during Nixon's period, aims to strengthen the non-proliferation system and the export control of sensitive nuclear material and equipment. The US has to mobilize other member countries to revise the Nuclear Transfer Standards. Once the standards are changed, can other countries follow suit?
The article points out that such a pact will shake the confidence of various countries on Non-proliferation Treaty, the only existing treaty to prevent nuclear weapons from spreading. India has not signed it. Thus, the pact will give India all the rights to develop civil nuclear energy, but will not require India give up the obligation of developing nuclear weapons or accept the international inspection. This makes it hard to convince other countries that the US still abides by the NPT.
Overall, the signing of the pact has totally changed the US stance on non-proliferation issue. That is to admit the nuclear proliferation is inevitable and can be divided into 'good or bad'. And 'good' proliferation can be accepted while the 'bad' must be banned. And anti-proliferation can be second to the geo-political factors.
The article also listed the US actions of gradually going away from the non-proliferation system and ignoring the international laws.
Seven years ago, the US refused to pass the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty; five years ago, it pushed forward the development of anti-ballistic missile system; four years ago, it abandoned the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; three years ago, it played down the International Atomic Energy Agency's supervision role and launched the Iraq War; one year ago, it refused to make any promise to reduce and finally destroy nuclear weapons. Today, while the danger that nuclear proliferation and terrorism will combine becomes bigger and bigger, it is thought-provoking that the international non-proliferation system is in such an awkward situation.
(People's Daily Online March 17, 2006)