Nuclear Power Brokering: Yes For India, No For Russia

10/09/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The United States has been busy negotiating nuclear power options with other countries, and today the Washington Post reports on two developing situations. First, Mira Kamdar reports that the US and India have been merrily hammering out a deal to allow India to start using nuclear power -- and opines against it.

It's probably fine because India's not a nation that would have any motivation to abuse nuclear engineering to gain a military advantage over any kind of regional rival, as far as I can remember. Let's see... recent news... yeah, looks like we should just keep nuclear out of the hands of countries in the news lately, like Iraq, Iran, whatever country bin Laden is president of (though I forget the name, which is super embarrassing because I know we're at war with them), Georgia and Russia.

Oh wait, here's a weird passage in Kamdar's op-ed:

The historic deal will allow U.S. nuclear companies to again do business in India, something that has been barred since 1974, when New Delhi tested its first atomic bomb. (India tested nuclear bombs again in 1998, spurring Pakistan to follow suit with its own tests days later.) The pact will also lift restrictions on other countries' sales of nuclear technology and fuel to India, while asking virtually nothing from India in return. All of that will undermine the very international system that India so ardently seeks to join.

The deal risks triggering a new arms race in Asia: If it passes, a miffed and unstable Pakistan will seek nuclear parity with India, and China will fume at a transparent U.S. ploy to balance Beijing's rise by building up India as a counterweight next door. The pact will gut global efforts to contain the spread of nuclear materials and encourage other countries to flout the NPT that India is now being rewarded for failing to sign. The U.S.-India deal will divert billions of dollars away from India's real development needs in sustainable agriculture, education, health care, housing, sanitation and roads. It will also distract India from developing clean energy sources, such as wind and solar power, and from reducing emissions from its many coal plants. Instead, the pact will focus the nation's efforts on an energy source that will, under the rosiest of projections, contribute a mere 8 percent of India's total energy needs -- and won't even do that until 2030.

Whatever that means!

Meanwhile, the Post's Michael Abramowitz reports that the U.S. is set to withdraw from nuclear negotiations with Russia soon -- maybe today.

The civil nuclear agreement was signed in Moscow four months ago, after two years of negotiations. Among other things, the deal would facilitate joint ventures between the Russian and U.S. nuclear industries, and would clear the way for Russia to import thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel, a business potentially worth billions of dollars.

But the accord must be approved by Congress, a step widely seen as impossible after the Georgia-Russia war, according to administration officials and experts on Russia. Withdrawing the agreement from Congress avoids a rejection of the pact, allowing the White House to save the deal for the next administration, should relations with Russia improve, some experts said.

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