he U.S. has officially welcomed India into the nuclear club, said India’s Assam Tribune in an editorial. Last week, the U.S. Senate ratified the landmark U.S.-India nuclear agreement, which allows India to receive nuclear fuel and supplies from the U.S. and other countries. The deal gives India “the unique distinction of being the only country allowed to do nuclear trade without having to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.” Since India long ago tested nuclear weapons, we couldn’t sign those treaties. Yet our developing economy urgently needs nuclear power plants to meet rapidly rising energy consumption. This deal “places India on the path taken by all developed countries ages ago, thus brightening her chances of ushering in real and fast-paced development.”
More important for the U.S., the deal binds India closely to the West, said Britain’s The Times. Since the Cold War ended, and with it “India’s treaty links with the Soviet Union,” India’s foreign relations have been in flux. The U.S. sees India as a useful “democratic counterbalance to China.” By offering cooperation on nuclear power, the U.S. was able to forge “a new partnership and alignment in Asia.”
But at what cost? asked Simon Tisdall in Britain’s The Guardian. Until now, any country that refused to adhere to the Test Ban Treaty and the Non-Proliferation Treaty had to pay the consequences by forgoing American aid to its nuclear energy program. India is still flouting both treaties, yet the U.S. decided to let it off the hook. That action undermines global security. Pakistan is already arguing that it, too, deserves unfettered access to nuclear supplies. And to make matters worse, Iran can argue “that the West is applying a double standard” by embracing nuclear India while isolating nuclear Iran. America has long allowed Israel to be an exception to the rules. Now India is another exception. “The question now is, how much longer can the rules hold?”
There are no rules, said the Hong Kong South China Morning Post. Or rather, they are what the U.S. says they are. The U.S. “has taken upon itself the power to decide which countries can go nuclear and which are rogue states for trying to do so.” International law, in the form of treaties honored and observed by all, is out the window. Unless the world can “reverse the trend” and come up with a new nonproliferation regime, “we risk sliding further down a dangerous slope, making it easier for rogue states and terrorist groups to acquire weapons of mass destruction.”
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