This week’s Economist urges the countries in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to turn down the U.S. request to waive restrictions against nuclear trade with India. India refuses to sign the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which is officially the main international bulwark against the spread of nuclear weapons. Relaxing the restrictions against nuclear trade with non-signatories—the very rules around which the NSG was created—makes a mockery of the international anti-proliferation regime. Or so says The Economist (see article).
Really? The biggest threats to the international anti-proliferation regime have actually come from NPT signatories—Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and Libya—in collaboration with another non-signatory, Pakistan. Whether Pakistan’s collaboration with these rogue states was officially sanctioned or not is still to be determined. Regardless, if the U.S. were pushing for trade with Pakistan instead of India, then Pakistan’s refusal to sign the NPT would be a relevant argument against such a deal. But the deal is with India, and there is obviously a world of difference between India and the other countries just mentioned.
Nobody, least of all Canada, is happy about how India got its bomb. But nobody can say India has facilitated the nuclear activities of countries like Iran or North Korea. They, not India, are the problem. Recognizing India as a de facto nuclear weapons state only formalizes a situation that will continue, recognition or no recognition, whether we like it or not. Having India a member of the weapons club strengthens diplomatic opposition to Iran and other miscreants. Refusing to recognize her as such keeps her out in the cold, and does nothing to address the Irans of the world.
Canada has made its point, for more than three decades. It is time to move on. Anti-proliferation efforts can be stepped up, beginning with strengthening IAEA safeguards. The world appears poised on the brink of a renaissance in civilian nuclear power. The light water power reactor (LWR) will play a major role in this. Iran’s claim of legitimacy in its nuclear program is based on the peaceful status most of the international nuclear community has bestowed on the LWR. To close this loophole and prevent future Irans, the IAEA should monitor nuclear facilities with cameras, in real time, to detect diversions of spent fuel.