McCain backs India-US nuclear deal to fight proliferation

May 28th, 2008 - 12:01 pm ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 28 (IANS) Republican presidential candidate John McCain says he supports the India-US civil nuclear deal to strengthen ties with the world’s largest democracy and involve India in the fight against nuclear proliferation. He would also actively engage both India and Pakistan to improve the security of their nuclear stockpiles and weapons materials, said McCain, 71, who would be the oldest first term US president If elected in the November presidential poll.

“We need to enlist all willing partners in the global battle against nuclear proliferation,” he said Tuesday in a major foreign policy speech outlining his vision on nuclear security at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado.

“I support the US-India Civil Nuclear Accord as a means of strengthening our relationship with the world’s largest democracy, and further involving India in the fight against proliferation,” McCain said.

“We should engage actively with both India and Pakistan to improve the security of nuclear stockpiles and weapons materials, and construct a secure global nuclear order that eliminates the likelihood of proliferation and the possibility of nuclear conflict,” he added.

The Republican candidate said he was convinced that civilian nuclear energy can be a critical part of the fight against global warming as nuclear power provides a way for the US and other responsible nations to achieve energy independence and reduce dependence on foreign oil and gas.

“But in order to take advantage of civilian nuclear energy, we must do a better job of ensuring it remains civilian,” he said, suggesting some nations use the pretence of civilian nuclear programmes as cover for nuclear weapons programmes.

“We need to build an international consensus that exposes this deception, and holds nations accountable for it,” McCain said. “We cannot continue allowing nations to enrich and reprocess uranium, ostensibly for civilian purposes, and stand by impotently as they develop weapons programmes.”

To prevent countries from using civilian nuclear programmes as a cover for the development of nuclear weapons, the presidential hopeful said he would limit the further spread of enrichment and reprocessing.

He favoured international guarantees of nuclear fuel supply to countries that renounce enrichment and reprocessing and also expressed support for establishing international nuclear enrichment centres and an international repository for spent nuclear fuel.

But in other remarks suggesting an edging away from President George W. Bush, the Arizona senator said he would pursue nuclear arms reduction talks with Russia and China as part of a foreign policy vision that brings back “broad-minded internationalism and determined diplomacy”.

“It is a vision not of the United States acting alone, but building and participating in a community of nations all drawn together in this vital common purpose. It is a vision of a responsible America, dedicated to an enduring peace based on freedom,” McCain said.

But even as his remarks were seen as an attempt to distance himself from Bush who has often been accused of going to war against Iraq without broad international support and participation, McCain expressed support for the president’s current Iraq strategy and criticised those seeking withdrawal of US troops.

Facing down a handful of anti-Iraq war protesters who interrupted his speech several times with chants of “End this war” and “What about Iraq?” he said: “By the way, I will never surrender in Iraq. Our American troops will come home with victory and honour.”

Going beyond the Bush administration’s non-proliferation objectives, McCain proposed more nuclear arms reductions saying he would consider Russia’s proposal to expand an intermediate range nuclear weapons treaty.

He also expressed a willingness to talk to China about arms reductions, and backed an overseas nuclear waste repository to avoid building a controversial storage facility in Nevada.

“These are all different from the Bush administration,” said McCain foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann. Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama has been trying to paint McCain as a candidate who would in effect give Bush a third term by continuing his unpopular policies.

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