Drastic changes may affect N-deal: Expert
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Drastic changes may affect N-deal: Expert

A Stanford academic has cautioned that pushing the Indo-US nuclear deal "too far" will damage what has been worked out.

india Updated: Jun 06, 2006 11:51 IST

The US Congress could bring in some "useful amendments" while approving the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, including an insistence on India working out safeguards with the International Atomic Energy Agency, a Stanford academic and nuclear proliferation expert has said.

Failure to get the legislation through the US Congress would not cripple India's civilian nuclear programme but will reduce it to a certain extent, said Scott Sagan, director of Stanford University's Centre for International Security and Cooperation.

He, however, cautioned those calling for amendments and conditions to the civilian nuclear agreement saying that pushing "too far" will damage what has been worked out.

Addressing a seminar on Monday, Sagan pointed out that there are both costs and benefits in the agreement.

The non-proliferation costs "are real but could be reduced if India lives up to its commitments" and the non-proliferation benefits are likewise "real and should be pursued", he said.

In the realm of proliferation costs, Sagan noted that the nuclear agreement was "precedent setting" and others such as China or Pakistan could insist on similar deals.

There are also a few constraints on the Indian arsenal's growth and the issue of "responsibility has been self- designed", he said.

Pointing out the deal's manifold benefits, Sagan said it would lead to intelligence sharing, improved nuclear safety and security, cooperation in Proliferation Security Initiative and India becoming an even more responsible nuclear power.

Listing some of the amendments that could be brought in by the US Congress, Sagan said the American President may have to certify to the Congress on an annual basis that India is on the path of eventual elimination of nuclear weapons and is in full compliance with IAEA safeguards and the UNSC resolution pertaining to export controls.

The United States may have to reaffirm and India affirm the negative security assurances of the non-proliferation treaty as it "pertains from the nuclear weapons states to the non-nuclear weapons states", he said.

Sagan pointed out that the US Congress could insist that peaceful nuclear cooperation will be suspended should India resort to conducting a nuclear test.

The exemption here would be that India can be expected to do so if its neighbours resort to such a test, he said.

The Stanford academic asked the US Congress to support the arms control negotiations between India and Pakistan as it was especially related to the reduction of nuclear risks.

Urging the Congress to keep long-term security interests in mind, Sagan said that the non-proliferation treaty was a "cornerstone" but all its four legs had "cracked" in the last decade.

These included the "I won't if you won't" principle, the so-called "good faith" elimination of nuclear weapons by states, challenges in the realm of peaceful nuclear technology as currently seen in the Iran standoff and negative security assurances from nuclear weapons states to others, he said.

First Published: Jun 06, 2006 08:42 IST