Wed Mar 29, 10:49 AM ET
Former US president Jimmy Carter criticized Washington’s civilian nuclear deal with India, saying it was “just one more step in opening a Pandora’s box of nuclear proliferation”.
“Knowing for more than three decades of Indian leaders’ nuclear ambitions, I and all other presidents included them in a consistent policy: no sales of civilian nuclear technology or uncontrolled fuel to any country that refused to sign the NPT,” Carter said in an opinion piece in The Washington Post.
India has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and developed nuclear weapons on its own.
US President George W. Bush clinched the landmark nuclear deal with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during a visit to New Delhi on March 2 and is pushing Congress to amend the US Atomic Energy Act, which currently prohibits nuclear sales to non NPT signatories, to make the agreement effective.
It would give energy-starved India access to long-denied civilian nuclear technology in return for placing a majority of its civilian nuclear reactors under international inspection.
Carter, a Democrat, slammed the Bush administration for abandoning many of the nuclear arms control agreements negotiated since the administration of Dwight Eisenhower.
“This change in policies has sent uncertain signals to other countries, including North Korea and Iran, and may encourage technologically capable nations to choose the nuclear option,” he said.
Carter said although US companies reportedly might win two contracts arising from Indian plans to import eight nuclear reactors by 2012, “this is a minuscule benefit compared with the potential costs.
“India may be a special case, but reasonable restraints are necessary,” he said.
The Bush administration had often cited what it called India’s unblemished nuclear non-proliferation record to go ahead with deal.
Carter said as the five original nuclear powers had all stopped producing fissile material for weapons, “India should make the same pledge to cap its stockpile of nuclear bomb ingredients.
“Instead, the proposal for India would allow enough fissile material for as many as 50 weapons a year, far exceeding what is believed to be its current capacity,” he said.
So far, Carter said, India had only rudimentary technology for uranium enrichment or plutonium reprocessing, and he urged Congress to “preclude the sale of such technology to India.”
India should also join other nuclear powers in signing the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, he said.
Source: AFP via Yahoo! News