Thursday, March 09, 2006

After he lost Dubai-ports, now even Idians doubt he can pass nuclear deal!


Copyright 2006 HT Media Ltd.
All Rights Reserved
Indo-Asian News Service

March 3, 2006 Friday 10:51 AM EST

LENGTH: 793 words

HEADLINE: Is Bush overestimating influence with
Congress on n-deal?

BYLINE: Indo-Asian News Service

DATELINE: Washington

BODY:

Washington, March 3 -- President George W. Bush may be
overestimating his influence and political capital
with the US Congress in believing that he can easily
convince the legislature to ratify the civilian
nuclear cooperation deal with India.

While there is significant opposition from both
Democrats and Republicans to the nuclear deal, the
real source of worry could be something totally
unrelated. It could fall prey to deeper antagonisms
against the Bush administration over a wholly
unconnected issue.

Cutting across party lines the lawmakers have been
seriously exercised over the administration's decision
to hand over the management of several US ports to
Dubai Ports World, a company owned by the United Arab
Emirates (UAE). Bush's critics from both sides of the
political divide have been strident and unrelenting on
the issue saying it compromises national security
since it involves a country from where two of 9/11
hijackers came.

Apart from all the sanguine tributes to India by the
visiting president, there has been a particularly
strong statement on the nuclear deal from the
Department of Defense. "Where only a few years ago, no
one would have talked about the prospects for a major
US-India defence deal, today the prospects are
promising, whether in the realm of combat aircraft,
helicopters, maritime patrol aircraft or naval
vessels," the Defense Department statement was quoted
by The New York Times as saying.

It was a measure of the opposition that Bush would
face in Congress that Representative Edward J. Markey,
a liberal Democrat from Massachusetts who is co-chair
of the Bipartisan Task Force on Nonproliferation and
senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce
Committee, called the deal a "historic failure."

"This nuclear deal has been described as a historic
deal - but it is in fact a historic failure of this
president to tackle the real nuclear threats that we
face. With one simple move the president has blown a
hole in the nuclear rules that the entire world has
been playing by and broken his own word to assure that
we will not ship nuclear technology to India without
the proper safeguards," said Rep. Markey.

To buttress his argument, Markey particularly
underlined the immediate demand by Pakistan for a
similar deal. "The ink on this agreement has barely
dried and already Pakistan is asking for the very same
special treaty that Bush has carved out for India. The
United States has now pushed over a nuclear domino
that falls against 187 other nations - all signers of
the Nonproliferation Treaty - to review why they
should honour a document which the nuclear superpowers
no longer respect. It empowers the hawks in every
rogue nation to put their nuclear weapons plans on
steroids now that they can no longer be isolated as
non-signers of an agreement that has been shredded,"
he said in a statement on his official website.

"In a last minute rush to get a nuclear deal with
India at any cost, President Bush appears to have
caved to Indian demands and compromised US security by
blowing a hole in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

"While the full details are not yet available, it
appears that the Bush Administration is going to open
up nuclear trade with a country which has refused to
sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which
refuses to accept full scope international safeguards
over all its nuclear facilities, and which refuses to
halt production of fissile materials for nuclear
bombs," Markey said.

Then in an extraordinary claim he asserted Bush had
agreed to an arrangement "that gives India enough
nuclear material to make 1,000 nuclear weapons."

He also pointed out that there is bipartisan
opposition to the deal in Congress.

"When the full story is known it will be a bookend to
the Dubai port deal - another case of the Bush
administration announcing a commercial deal without
due regard for its impact on national security
interests," he said. His comment was a clear
indication that upset over the ports deal some
lawmakers could strike an intransigent posture against
the India-US nuclear deal.

Other influential lawmakers such as conservative
Republican Representative Henry J. Hyde of Illinois,
chairman of the House International Relations
Committee, and Senator Richard G. Lugar, the Indiana
Republican who leads the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, too have strongly opposed the deal.

Bush himself has conceded to the difficulties he is
facing with Congress to amend US laws to allow selling
civilian nuclear technology to India.

On balance the deal will be a powerful test case of
the president's personal political standing. As of now
the challenge seems enormously daunting.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from
Indo-Asian News Service.

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