On the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal

The nuclear deal between the US and India has generated a lot of controversy, to say the least. From Michael A. Levi and Charles D. Ferguson’s recent policy piece from the Council on Foreign Relations:

The bargain among Congress, the administration, and India should be simple. Congress should accept the basic framework negotiated between the United States and India—including the Indian commitment to its moratorium on nuclear tests and to stronger controls on sensitive exports; the American acceptance that India will not formally cap its nuclear arsenal as part of the deal; the American desire, though not insistence, that future Indian nuclear reactors be placed under inspections; and the Indian desire that future nuclear cooperation be free from potentially onerous annual congressional review—and express that acceptance quickly and formally through “Sense of Congress” resolutions.

Ivan Oelrich from the Federation of American Scientists disagrees:

The report is seductively misleading because many of the recommendations make good sense given the presumptions and context of the report. But the presumptions and context are wrong. So first, we need to step back and examine the context. The authors state early on that “…the Bush administration has stirred deep passions and put Congress in the seemingly impossible bind of choosing between approving the deal and damaging nuclear nonproliferation, or rejecting the deal and thereby setting back an important strategic relationship.” [p. 3] This is true, but the problem is with the deal, not the implementation.

At several points the authors refer to the “strategic” relationship the deal fosters with India. But we must also think strategically about where nuclear policy is headed in the United States, or even foreign relations in general.