US asks India to strengthen global non-proliferation system

March 24th, 2009 - 10:13 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 24 (IANS) India and the US should build on the goodwill created by their landmark civil nuclear deal to strengthen bilateral ties as also the global non-proliferation system, a senior US diplomat has suggested.

“Both the United States and India have the responsibility to help to craft a strengthened NPT (non-proliferation treaty) regime to foster safe, affordable nuclear power to help the globe’s energy and environment needs, while assuring against the spread of nuclear weapons,” US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said Monday.

India, which is not a signatory to the NPT, is nonetheless “in the position to look at the kinds of commitments it can make to be part of an international approach,” Steinberg said at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank in what was described as the first US policy speech focusing on India.

“How we deal with bringing India and Pakistan into the NPT world is a critical question,” Steinberg said. India, Pakistan and Israel are the only countries never to have signed the NPT.

The 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) agreed in September to lift a ban on nuclear trade with India, imposed after its first nuclear test in 1974 and for its refusal to join the NPT.

Later addressing the same forum, India’s special envoy for nuclear issues and climate change Shyam Saran said the landmark India-US civil nuclear deal and NSG waiver meant his country was “now accepted as a partner in the global nuclear domain.”

“Thanks to the civil nuclear agreement, we are now, potentially at a different level of engagement on these hitherto sensitive and even contentious issues,” he said.

How Washington and New Delhi would cooperate on non-proliferation issues would be worked out in talks once the Obama administration settles down and following India’s general elections in April and May, he added.

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