What is Bush up to re/India, Iran & nukes?

2006-12-26

Richard Moore

Original source URL:

        It was "outrageous that the president has repeatedly stated
        the greatest threat to U.S. national security is a nuclear
        Iran, yet explicitly rejects Congress' declaration that it
        shall be the official policy of the United States that India
        will not use its nuclear technology to help develop Iran's
        nuclear weapons arsenal," Harkin said in a press release.


http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/122106B.shtml

http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=politicsNews&storyID=2006-12-21T115200Z_01_N20406847_RTRUKOC_0_US-NUCLEAR-INDIA-USA.xml&WTmodLoc=Home-C5-politicsNews-2

Bush India statement raises Congress concerns
Thu Dec 21, 2006 6:52 AM ET

By Carol Giacomo, Diplomatic Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A statement by President George W. Bush issued in 
connection with the just-signed U.S.-India civil nuclear cooperation law has 
raised concerns that Bush may try to circumvent some of Congress' intentions, 
lawmakers and analysts say.

The statement, clarifying Bush's views on law and policy, was issued after he 
signed new legislation on Monday permitting U.S. sales of nuclear fuel and 
reactors to India for the first time in 30 years.

In the statement, Bush said his signature "does not constitute my adoption of 
the statements of policy (in the law) as U.S. foreign policy." Also in 
responding to reports mandated by Congress, he would consider how releasing data
requested by lawmakers might "impair foreign relations."

In one of its most controversial directives, Congress stipulated in the law that
presidents should report annually on India's cooperation in restraining Iran's 
nuclear program, which Bush has condemned as a major international threat.

"With his recent signing statement, once again the president has shown he views 
Congress as a nuisance rather than an equal branch of government under the 
Constitution," said Sen. Thomas Harkin of Iowa, a Democrat whose party will 
control a majority of the new Congress to be sworn in next month.

It was "outrageous that the president has repeatedly stated the greatest threat 
to U.S. national security is a nuclear Iran, yet explicitly rejects Congress' 
declaration that it shall be the official policy of the United States that India
will not use its nuclear technology to help develop Iran's nuclear weapons 
arsenal," Harkin said in a press release.

'THUMBING HIS NOSE'

In the statement, Bush also said he considered as only "advisory" a 
congressional directive prohibiting nuclear transfers to India that conflict 
with guidelines of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, which the United 
States helped establish years ago to restrain nuclear trade.

Democratic Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts said this shows Bush is 
"reserving the right to ignore the Nuclear Suppliers Group."

The president is "turning decades of U.S. international policy on its head -- 
and thumbing his nose at Congress at the same time," added Markey, co-chair of 
the House of Representatives task force on non-proliferation.

Before U.S. nuclear exports to India can begin, several other approvals are 
needed, including an NSG decision to change its rules prohibiting trade with 
India and passage of a second U.S. law.

Some non-proliferation experts worry that if the United States is unable to win 
NSG approval -- which must be by unanimous consent -- Bush will let the trade 
with India go forward.

The White House and State Department rejected such interpretations of Bush's 
statement.

Asked if Bush might ignore the NSG, a State Department official told Reuters: 
"No, quite the opposite."

He said that while NSG guidelines are "political commitments," Secretary of 
State Condoleezza Rice "has been very clear that we're not going to do the 
(nuclear) deal without consensus in the NSG."

Meanwhile, a White House official said the statement's treatment of the NSG "is 
not regarding any particular intended course of foreign policy or with any 
particular practical effect in terms of intended treatment of material (nuclear)
transfer."

Rather, the statement is intended to deal with the "domestic issue of government
power rather than an issue of international nuclear policy," he said.

Justice Department lawyers were concerned the way the law is written meant that 
a change in NSG rules would force a change in U.S. law, a U.S. official said.


© Reuters 2006. All rights reserved.
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