The House of Representatives approved President Bush’s ill-conceived nuclear agreement with India last week, shrugging off concerns that the deal could make it even harder to rein in Iran’s (and others’) nuclear ambitions. We hope the Senate shows better judgment. For 30 years, ever since India used its civilian nuclear programme to produce a bomb, the world has been barred from selling any nuclear technology to India. The deal would allow the US to break that ban and open the way for the rest of the world to sell reactors and fuel to India as well.

President Bush and his aides were so eager for a foreign-policy success that they didn’t even try to get India to limit its weapons programme. 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 deal approved by the House fails to meet legal requirements set by Congress. 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. Also, it does not include a credible plan by the Indians for separating their military and civilian nuclear programmes.

The Senate should postpone action until the next Congress can figure out how to limit the damage from this deal.