Congress Fuels South Asian Nuclear Arms Race

As Congress is marching in lock step to approve the administration’s sweetheart deal that would allow India to rapidly ramp up its nuclear bomb production to about 50 new weapons each year, news comes that Pakistan is racing to match the Indian capability.

The Washington Post reports on new satellite photos that reveal construction of a plutonium production reactor that should enable Pakistan to punch out — surprise — 50 bombs a year.

It is not too late for Congress to stop this developing nuclear arms race in South Asia. All they have to do is approve an amendment that conditions the U.S.-India deal on an Indian agreement not to make any more material for weapons. This was part of the deal originally sought by Bush administration officials, but they caved in to India demands and dropped the idea.

Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) says, “The Bush Administration conceded on almost every major point in negotiating this agreement with India. Even worse, the Administration essentially ignored the concerns of its own nonproliferation experts, and kept Congress in the dark until after the agreement was concluded.”

He and other legislators are trying to get amendments to the deal that would enable the U.S. to expand cooperation with India without allowing India to go on a nuclear weapons binge. One amendment would require India to halt production of fissile material, the main component needed to make nuclear weapons, in exchange for greater nuclear cooperation with the United States. A second important amendment would prevent India from transferring nuclear enrichment technology to other countries.

The Arms Control Association has more.

Joseph Cirincione