Bush unveils Indo-US nuclear, space plan
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Bush unveils Indo-US nuclear, space plan

Taking US-India ties to a new high, Bush said both nations will step-up cooperation in non-military nuclear activities and high-tech trade.

india Updated: Jan 13, 2004 14:25 IST
T V Parasuram (PTI)
T V Parasuram (PTI)

Taking US-India ties to a new high, US President George W Bush has announced that the two countries would step up cooperation in non-military nuclear activities, civilian space programmes and high-technology trade and expand dialogue on missile defence.

In a statement released on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas in Monterrey, Mexico, on Monday, Bush said, "Cooperation in these areas will deepen the ties of commerce and friendship between our two nations, and will increase stability in Asia and beyond."

Bush said the proposed cooperation would progress through a series of reciprocal steps, including expanded engagement on nuclear regulatory and safety issues and missile defence, ways to enhance cooperation in peaceful uses of space technology and steps to create the appropriate environment for successful high-technology commerce.

"The expanded cooperation launched today is an important milestone in transforming the relationship between the United States and India," he said.

"The vision of US-India strategic partnership that Prime Minister (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee and I share is now becoming a reality," Bush said.

He said the two sides would tighten restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

Bush termed the expanded cooperation as "an important milestone in transforming the relationship between the United States and India. That relationship is based increasingly on common values and common interests."

"We are working together to promote global peace and prosperity. We are partners in the war on terrorism and we are partners in controlling the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them," Bush said.

Elaborating on the statement, a State Department official said in Washington that the extent of the strategic cooperation between India and the US would depend on the strengthening of Indian export controls.

He also emphasised that Bush's announcement did not imply tacit approval of India's nuclear weapons or domestic missile programmes.

The official said Indian export controls needed to be strengthened because of alleged diversion of high-tech goods to Iraq because of which the US had to impose sanctions on some Indian companies in order to meet its obligations under domestic laws and commitments under international agreements.

Sufficient strengthening of export controls would eliminate the need to impose such sanctions, he said, adding, the President's statement began a process.

"We will offer India expanded cooperation as India takes concrete steps to address our concerns, especially in the export control area. We also emphasise that we are not asking here for any changes in US domestic law or our international obligations," he said.

"Similarly, this is not about diminishing in any way our concerns about India's nuclear weapons or domestic missile programmes. We have not said anything to support India's nuclear weapons or domestic missile programmes," he said.

The official said that there was a lot of work to be done on both sides to fill in the details of the proposed cooperation.

Since the agreement between Bush and Vajpayee in November 2001 to enhance the strategic partnership between India and the US, Washington had sought to build broader cooperation with New Delhi on a "full range" of issues, the official said.

"One of the most important of those issues is global nonproliferation. Over time, it has become clear that India and the US see this area of trying to find an end to global proliferation as a way to increase cooperation and also increase stability in their region and beyond," he said.

The official said there were areas of the US-India relationship in civilian nuclear activities, high technology and civilian space "where there are things that can be done and ought to be done and we would like to have these done. The second thing important is there are things India has to do here. These are being done."

"We are not going to be transferring technology or doing things we would like to do if we are concerned either about diversion inside India or onward proliferation."

The distinction between a civilian nuclear programme and a military one, a civilian space programme and a space launch vehicle programme was very clear to both countries, the official said.

Without the type of new regulations, laws and new export controls that Indians needed to frame, the US would not be able to support the needed cooperation, he added.

First Published: Jan 13, 2004 00:00 IST