‘India-US nuke deal should’ve been criteria-based’

June 14th, 2008 - 3:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 14 (IANS) The India-US civilian nuclear deal should have been criteria-based instead of being country-specific and a pact on these lines should now be offered to Pakistan, a leading American strategic expert says. In testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee, Stephen Cohen, a leading South Asia expert, said the US should offer Pakistan a nuclear deal to make Islamabad accept the obligations that come with being a nuclear weapons state.

Criteria-based deals “could have been offered to states like Pakistan and Israel, countries that have not signed the non-proliferation treaty but have nuclear weapons”, Cohen said Friday.

Soon after the US declared its intention in July 2005 to offer a nuclear deal to India, Pakistan urged Washington not to make it India-specific to permit other countries to also benefit from this arrangement.

The Bush administration, however, made it clear it was making only a one-time exception for India and had no intention of offering a similar deal to Pakistan.

Cohen told the Senate panel that the US could offer a deal to Pakistan patterned on the European Union’s offer to Turkey that requires Ankara to meet certain criteria for joining the EU.

“In the case of Pakistan you can establish criteria, such as a safe and secure nuclear programme, commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and arms control,” he said. “These are same as the NPT obligations.”

If Pakistan accepts these obligations, “it would be certainly eligible” for a nuclear deal with the US.

Cohen noted that China was already helping Pakistan with its nuclear programme but this did not “quite legitimise” it.

As part of the legitimisation process, Pakistan would have to accept the obligations of the NPT signatories and will have to share all of its knowledge about past proliferation activities, Cohen added.

Lisa Curtis, another South Asia expert at Washington’s Heritage Foundation, recalled that when the US cut off assistance to Pakistan in the early 1990s, there was debate within Islamabad’s security establishment on protecting its interests without Washington’s backing.

“Subsequently Pakistan began engaging in risky activities such as proliferating nuclear technology and know-how to North Korea in exchange for missiles it deemed necessary to meet the threat from India,” she said, urging Washington to stay engaged with Islamabad.

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