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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Krepon: U.S.-India Nuclear Agreement Weakens Nonproliferation Efforts

Council on Foreign Relations

Interviewee: Michael Krepon, Co-founder, The Henry L. Stimson Center
Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor, CFR.org

September 17, 2008

Michael Krepon, a well-known expert on South Asia and nuclear nonproliferation, says that the U.S.-India nuclear agreement which President Bush has sent to Congress for approval is likely to weaken efforts at strengthening nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. He says that Congress, which originally in the Hyde Act, had demanded tough steps to ensure India did not resume nuclear testing, will likely approve the agreement on the grounds it will improve relations with India and increase American jobs. Krepon says he doubts that American industry will gain much from the accord.

The U.S.-Indian civilian nuclear agreement—which will allow the United States to provide nuclear equipment and expertise for the Indians' civilian nuclear industry but had been barred previously because India had not signed the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty—is now before the Congress, and the Democratic leaders in both houses seem willing and eager to take it up. You have been on the record for some time as being opposed to this agreement. Can you summarize what your main reasons against it are?

India needs to be brought into the global nonproliferation system even if it can't join the nonproliferation treaty. The question has always been how to get India in without undermining the rest of the system. It also chokes the playing field in the direction of a resumption of Indian nuclear tests.

India is operating under a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear tests; why would this agreement push it toward more nuclear tests?

India's leaders have not gone beyond a voluntary statement saying they have no plans to test, for very good reasons, at least in their view. India has tested an advanced nuclear design only once, and it's likely to need to test it again.

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