Nuclear Weapons

Opposing the Indian Nuclear Deal, not India.

04.06.06 | 2 min read | Text by Ivan Oelrich

An earlier FAS blog entry analyzed, and criticized, proposed legislation that grants the Bush Administration pre-approval of the details of an eventual nuclear trade deal with India. FAS has also organized a petition campaign to encourage members of Congress to vote against the legislation. (And blog readers are encouraged to sign the petition.) The Times of India picked up on the petition. The Times piece was, in my view, pretty good and fair. They did not agree entirely with the FAS position but I think the article did a good job of representing the FAS position.

Nevertheless, with the Times article, many in India learned of FAS involvement in the issue, resulting in a lot of emails to FAS and almost all of the letters were negative, specifically saying that the FAS position is anti-Indian. I can imagine that if all anyone knew about FAS was its position on the Indian nuclear deal, it might somehow appear that we have some gripe against India. And for those people, I simply ask that they view all of the work of the Federation. We have worked hard against what we believe is an oversized U.S. arsenal. We worked against the RNEP, or nuclear bunker buster. We are working now against the U.S. Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, or GNEP, that will restart plutonium reprocessing in the United States after a three decade hiatus. We have publicized the inflation of the Chinese threat and the growing importance of tactical nuclear weapons in military planning. (Once we figure out what the Reliable Replacement Warhead Program actually is, we might work against that, too, but we don’t think anyone is absolutely certain what the program is yet.)

The point is that FAS works to reduce the number and salience of U.S. nuclear weapons. We want to reduce the world’s nuclear weapons and fully realize that most of those are in the United States and Russia. We also oppose the Indian deal but not because we are anti-Indian but because we are anti-proliferation.

One of the tragedies of the Cold War is that a confrontation between the United States and Russia sucked in other “balancing” powers like China, India, and Pakistan. Due to circumstances that had little to do with India and the United States directly, the world’s two largest democracies ended up, certainly not enemies, but suspicious of one another looking across that divide. FAS, and we suspect an overwhelming majority of Americans, strongly support closer ties with India. India has some of the best scientists in the world and there are a hundred different ways that the United States and India could work together. Even in the area of energy research, programs in clean coal, carbon dioxide sequestration, wind and solar power, improved efficiency in buildings, transportation, and electricity transmission, could benefit from close U.S.-Indian collaboration. But not nuclear power, not with an agreement that critically undermines the Non-Proliferation Treaty.