US expert favours nuclear cooperation with India

May 2nd, 2008 - 9:37 pm ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 2 (IANS) A leading nuclear expert has told lawmakers that its is in America’s interest to have nuclear cooperation with India as US sanctions after the 1998 nuclear tests did not deter it from continuing its weapons programme. “India does not view itself as a proliferator but as a legitimate nuclear weapons state,” Siegfried Hecker, the co director for the Centre for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University told a Senate panel.

“I don’t think our sanctions have particularly stopped its (India) nuclear weapons programme. What our sanctions have done is slow down their nuclear energy programmes,” he told the subcommittee on energy.

“In turn, they have made the Indians actually significantly more capable in nuclear energy technology to where today it may actually - and I believe be much in our benefit to have nuclear cooperation for nuclear energy with India,” Hecker told the Senate.

“One has to do this trade off in India and make the decision as to whether the risks are worth the benefits,” he said.

“Their reward for refraining from nuclear testing is that they were now caught outside of the nuclear proliferation regime. They view that as having been discriminatory from the word go. They will never then abide to it. They will never get rid of the nuclear weapons they have now until there is global disarmament,” the Stanford expert said.

The expert made his comments in response to panel chairman Byron Dorgan’s observation “… Why would India and other countries not take as a lesson from this that …if we just wait long enough, you’ll come to us, there’ll not only be no penalty for it, you’ll be rewarded for it.”

A top Democratic lawmaker expressing concern over security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons said serious questions about Islamabad being in possession of such warheads, especially in the context of a “dramatic” rise of Islamic fundamentalism there.

“Pakistan possesses nuclear weapons. It has an unstable government and a dramatic rise of Islamic fundamentalism. Many people have called it ground zero as far as terror is concerned,” Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein said.

“If you ask some of us what is the most threatening nuclear situation, we’d have to say it’s Pakistan in terms of those nuclear facilities,” he said.

“The question I have is what steps can we take to confront this challenge to see that the weapons remain secure and to actually improve the situation in terms of stability of government and therefore, stability of the nuclear weapons programme?” Feinstein asked a senior administration official.

William Tobey, deputy administrator in the Office of Defence Nuclear Non Proliferation of the National Nuclear Security Administration, replied: “We’ve extended an invitation to Pakistan to join the global initiative to combat nuclear terrorism, which they have done.

“They have participated in an exercise in China. That initiative is aimed at drawing together nations to share best practices, essentially throughout the possible prevention and response cycle.”

Tobey added: “We are hopeful that Pakistan will avail itself of this opportunity to ensure that they have the best practices possible. I regard their military as most professional and committed to nuclear security.”

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