IN OTHER WORDS: Dubious deal

When the US concluded a nuclear deal with India last month, among the results were protests in both countries. The deal allows India to buy nuclear fuel and advanced reactor technology without having to limit its own production of nuclear weapons or foreswear the testing of new weapons. Indian objections to the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement have largely been highly political and hyperbolic. But there should be louder complaints here in the US. Whatever its strategic, economic, and environmental benefits, the deal creates a glaring exception to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which India has never signed. Essentially, the Bush administration is saying that since India, the world’s largest democracy, is becoming a crucial American ally, and since it has not peddled its nuclear weapons abroad, it may purchase nuclear fuel and technology that no other country outside the nuclear treaty is allowed to receive.

If President Bush grasped the value of international treaties and obligations, he would have used the nuclear negotiations with

India to establish less permissive criteria. These criteria could include strict nuclear export controls, an absence of dealings with terrorists, and transparency in a country’s nuclear programme. That would be a nuclear deal for the whole world.