Criticising the House of Representatives for approving President George W Bush's "ill-conceived" nuclear agreement with India, the influential New York Times has called upon the Senate to postpone action on the deal until the next Congress is convened early next year.
Even as the Senate is expected to vote and approve the bill likely on Wednesday, the Times, which has been a consistent critic of the deal, said in an editorial on Tuesday that the agreement with India "could make it even harder to rein in Iran's (and others') nuclear ambitions".
The liberal leaning paper claimed that, eager for a foreign-policy success, the Bush administration did not "even try to get India to limit its weapons programme in return. They got no promise from India to stop producing bombing-making material, no promise not to expand its arsenal and no promise not to resume nuclear testing."
The paper also blamed the House Foreign Affairs Committee for not holding public hearings and sending the deal straight to the floor without even a committee vote. It noted that the committee's chairman, Howard Berman, expressed "concerns about ambiguities in the agreement" and still voted for it.
The editorial granted that Bush has correctly chosen to build a new relationship with India, a rising power that has sent many thousands of talented people to live and work in the US. But it said, he "erred in making the nuclear deal the centrepiece of that relationship. And he erred in assuming that he could selectively break the nuclear rules for India and still argue that other countries had to do a lot more to rein in Iran."
The deal approved by the House fails to meet legal requirements set previously by Congress, claimed the Times. "For example, it is not accompanied by a commitment by countries engaged in nuclear trade to ban transfers to India of enrichment and reprocessing equipment that is essential to weapons production," it said.