Nonproliferation Experts Denounce Administration’s Attempt To Circumvent Congressional Restrictions on U.S.-India Nuclear Deal

Washington, D.C. – Council for a Livable World today criticized the Bush administration for its misleading and deceptive comments about what conditions would apply to the U.S.-India nuclear deal.

Speaking at the U.S. Consulate General office in India yesterday, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Evan Feigenbaum said "India is not bound by the Hyde Act. It will be bound by the civil [123] nuclear agreement and its safeguards with the International Atomic Energy Agency." Feigenbaum's statement contradicts earlier reassurances by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"There is a seven year history of the Bush administration treating Congressionally-passed laws and the Constitution as mere speed bumps beneath its hard-charging policy desires," said John Isaacs, Executive Director of Council for a Livable World.

At a February 2008 hearing before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rice said that "We will support nothing with India in the NSG [Nuclear Suppliers Group] that is in contradiction to the Hyde Act. It will have to be completely consistent with the obligations of the Hyde Act."

"If the administration insists on ignoring Congress, Congress should insist on ignoring the so-called 123 phase of the agreement when and if the President submits it to Congress later this year," Isaacs continued.

Signed into law by the President on December 18, 2006, the Hyde Act allows for civilian nuclear trade with India but subjects it to some important conditions. The United States made additional concessions to India during the negotiation and finalization of the 123 agreement, several of which do not conform to the clear conditions of the Hyde Act.

Leonor Tomero, Director of Nuclear Non-Proliferation, noted "Not only did the administration cave to India's demands by not including these key conditions in the U.S.-India agreement for cooperation, it is now reinforcing the perception that these Congressionally-mandated conditions are irrelevant. The administration is playing fast and loose with this agreement, ignoring the will of Congress and dangerously weakening U.S. security."

Tomero added "If enacted in its current form, the 123 agreement would greatly compromise efforts to help prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons-usable materials."