With 26 more votes than necessary for passage – 86 yeas to 13 nays – the Senate passed the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal yesterday, overcoming the deal’s only legislative obstacle left after the House passed the deal on September 27.
Now, after a more than thirty year ban on nuclear trade imposed on India for conducting illicit nuclear tests, the deal heads to the President’s desk for signature, an event that seemed highly unlikely just months ago.
As a result of the deal, civilian nuclear trade between India and the United States will open. India will receive U.S. technology and nuclear energy, and will allow U.N. inspectors to inspect those civilian nuclear facilities. Nuclear weapons facilities will not be opened for inspection, one of the many remaining serious concerns.
In order to pass the agreement before adjournment, Congress was pressured into foregoing the required 30-day review period. In a matter of days, the United States approved a deal that undercuts decades of work by the global non-proliferation efforts, and even by Congress itself.
The passage is being widely touted as a much-needed foreign policy victory for the Bush administration before it leaves office in January.
More after the jump, including the citations of Council experts in Congressional testimony.
OPPOSITION IN CONGRESS
Thirteen Senators voted against the deal, including Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), who highlighted the work of the Council’s Leonor Tomero and Lt. Gen. Robert Gard.
According to Harkin,
“Leading arms control experts have condemned this agreement. Leonor Tomero, director of nuclear nonproliferation at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation [sister organization of the Council], rendered this verdict:
‘The Bush administration ignored congressional conditions and gave away the store in its negotiations with India, with nothing to show for the deal now except having helped foreign companies, enabled the increase of nuclear weapons and nuclear-weapons materials in India, and seriously eroded a thirty-year norm of preventing nuclear proliferation.’
He also quoted Gard:
‘The greatest threat to the security of the United States is the proliferation of nuclear weapons. This deal [with India] significantly weakens U.S. and international security by granting an exception to the rules of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and American laws, thereby undermining the entire non-proliferation regime and inviting violations by other nations.'”
Several other Senators spoke out against the deal, and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND) introduced an amendment to explicitly place conditions – to scrap the deal if India detonates a weapon and impose several reporting requirements – on India. Sen. Rich Lugar (R-IN) and others rejected these qualifications, arguing that, “if India resumes testing, the 123 agreement is over,” and U.S. laws would already require termination of the agreement.
FOLLOWING THE LEADER?
Yesterday, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani told reporters, “You don’t have to be worried about [the deal]. Pakistan will now be justified to also make a demand for a similar deal as we don’t want discrimination.”
Now, about those opponents who argued that an exemption for India would undermine nuclear non-proliferation efforts and encourage an arms race in the region…