Bush Stabs Our Allies In The Back….Again

Though the photo-ops and headlines seem nice, this India nukes deal should scare the hell out of you :

Reversing decades of U.S. policy, President Bush ushered India into the world’s exclusive nuclear club Thursday with a landmark agreement to share nuclear reactors, fuel and expertise with this energy-starved nation in return for its acceptance of international safeguards.

Eight months in the making, the accord would end India’s long isolation as a nuclear maverick that defied world appeals and developed nuclear weapons. India agreed to separate its tightly entwined nuclear industry — declaring 14 reactors as commercial facilities and eight as military — and to open the civilian side to international inspections for the first time.

Don’t get me wrong, forming an alliance with India and getting a handle on their nuclear program is a very good thing, but the President’s end-run around the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is dangerous and short-sighted. As Fred Kaplan explained in Slate :

First, the United States has no authority to grant such an exemption on its own. The NPT is a treaty signed by 187 nations; it is enforced by the International Atomic Energy Agency; and it is, in effect, administered by the five nations that the treaty recognizes as nuclear powers (the United States, Russia, China, Britain, and France). This point is not a legal nicety. If the United States can cut a separate deal with India, what is to prevent China or Russia from doing the same with Pakistan or Iran? If India demands special treatment on the grounds that it’s a stable democracy, what is to keep Japan, Brazil, or Germany from picking up on the precedent?

Second, the India deal would violate not just international agreements but also several U.S. laws regulating the export of nuclear materials.

In other words, an American president who sought to make this deal would, or should, detect a myriad of political actors that might protest or block it—mainly the U.N. Security Council, the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, and the U.S. Congress. Not just as a legal principle but also as a practical consideration, these actors must be notified, cajoled, mollified, or otherwise bargained with if the deal has a chance of coming to life.

The amazing thing is, President Bush just went ahead and made the pledge, without so much as the pretense of consultation—as if all these actors, with their prerogatives over treaties and laws (to say nothing of their concerns for very real dilemmas), didn’t exist.

Seeing as this is the same President that’s all but shredded the NPT with pursuit of “low-yield” nuclear weapons and has been openly hostile toward international organizations and agreements since day one (Kyoto, UN weapons inspectors, John Bolton, etc.), we shouldn’t be too surprised that the President would once again give the finger to allies like Russia and France. This deal still has to pass Congress, so if you’re as concerned about this as I am, now would be a good time to write a letter to the editor, call your representatives, and help spread the word that the President shouldn’t be making bilateral agreements at the expense of the international community.