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Rediff.com  » News » 'By helping India's economy to grow, we would help our own'

'By helping India's economy to grow, we would help our own'

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Last updated on: April 06, 2006 18:43 IST

Opening remarks made by United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice before the House International Relations Committee on April 5:

Mr Chairman, Mr Lantos, other members of the Committee, thank you very much for allowing me this opportunity to discuss the US-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative. We believe that it deserves your support. We do understand that it is a path-breaking and complex agreement and so we also understand that it deserves your full consideration and we want to be partners as you consider it as well as should you support it.

India's society is open and free, transparent and stable. Its multiethnic and multi-religious democracy is characterized by individual freedom and the rule of law. We share common values. India will soon be the world's most populous nation and American exports to India have doubled in only the past four years. And of course, India is a rising global power that can be a pillar of stability in a rapidly changing Asia. India is, in short, a natural partner for the United States.

For too long during the past half century, India and the United States were estranged by conflicting domestic and foreign policies. Moreover, our nonproliferation policies were a part of that tangle. I think it is fair to say that our nonproliferation policies toward India have not fully achieved the purpose for which they were designed; they had no effect on India's development of nuclear weapons, nor did they prevent India and Pakistan from testing nuclear weapons in 1998. They have contributed little to the lessening of regional tensions which brought India and Pakistan repeatedly to the brink of war and all of this resulted in a more isolated India, isolated especially from the standards and practices of the nuclear nonproliferation establishment that has been maturing in the decades since the Nonproliferation Treaty.

Now consider the future that we could have instead. This initiative will advance international security and enhance energy security and further environmental protection and increase business opportunities for both our countries. All of these benefits must be viewed in the still larger, greater context of how this initiative elevates the US-India relationship to a new strategic level.

The United States and India are laying the foundation for cooperation on major issues in the region and beyond, building on and building up a broad relationship between our peoples and governments. That broad relationship is across multiple fronts -- economic, agricultural, cultural -- and we will not, however, be able to fully realize the vision of this broad relationship unless we deal with the problem before us, the impediments associated with civil nuclear cooperation, resolving them once and for all.

The initiative also will enhance energy security. India is a nation of over a billion people with an economy growing at approximately 8 percent each year. It has a massive and rapidly growing appetite for energy. It is now the sixth largest consumer of energy in the world. Diversifying India's energy sector will help it meet its ever-increasing energy needs and also ease its reliance on hydrocarbons and the unstable sources of oil and gas, including places like Iran. This would be good for the United States and for India.

The initiative would also benefit the environment. Nuclear energy is clean energy. Providing India with an environmentally friendly energy source like nuclear energy is clearly an important goal. India's carbon emissions increased 61 percent between 1990 and 2001, surpassed only by China. The initiative will also create opportunities for American jobs. Nuclear cooperation will provide a new market for American nuclear firms as well as assist India's economic development. The initiative could add as many as three to 5,000 new direct jobs and about 10 to 15,000 indirect jobs as we engage in nuclear commerce with India. By helping India's economy to grow, we would help our own.

Finally, this initiative will strengthen the international nonproliferation regime -- nuclear nonproliferation regime. We face a basic choice: Either continue to isolate India or engage it on these issues. The initiative is a strong gain for nonproliferation. The custodian of the nonproliferation regime, Dr Mohamed ElBaradei, is a strong supporter of this agreement, as are Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Jacque Chirac both of whom have made public statements. The Russian government is also supportive.

Now I want just to note that there have been some important criticisms of this agreement and I'd like to take those on head-on and give you our view of those criticisms. First, India would never accept a unilateral freeze or cap on its nuclear arsenal, though some have suggested that we should have negotiated that. The plans and policies of India take into account regional realities and no one can credibly assert that India would accept what would amount to an arms control agreement unilaterally that did not include other key countries, mainly China and Pakistan.

Second, the initiative with India does not seek to renegotiate or amend the NPT. India is not and is not going to become a member of the NPT as a nuclear weapons state. We are simply seeking to address an untenable situation. India has never been a party to the NPT and this agreement does not bring India in -- but this agreement does bring India into the nonproliferation framework and thereby strengthen the broad nonproliferation regime.

Third, civil nuclear cooperation with India will not lead to an arms race in South Asia. Nothing we or any other potential international suppliers would provide to India under this initiative would enhance its military capacity or add to its military stockpiles. Moreover, the nuclear balance in this region is a function of political and military matters. We are far more likely to be able to influence those, the regional dynamics of this important region from a position of strong relations with India and, indeed, strong relations with Pakistan.

Fourth, this initiative does not complicate our policies towards countries like North Korea or Iran. It is simply not credible to compare India to North Korea or to Iran. While Iran and North Korea are violating their IAEA obligations, India would be making new ones by bringing the IAEA into the Indian program and seeking peaceful international cooperation. Iran and North Korea are closed, non-democratic societies; India is a transparent and open democracy. In fact, India is increasingly doing its part to support the international community's efforts to curb the dangerous nuclear ambitions of the Iranian regime.

The US-India civil nuclear cooperation initiative is a strategic achievement. It's good for America. It is good for India and it is good for the international community. President Bush and I look to Congress as full partners in this initiative. Your support is crucial for this legislation and we ask that you lend it. Together we can seize this tremendous opportunity to solidify a key partnership that will advance American interests and the ideals of peace, prosperity and liberty that two great democracies could pursue together.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
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