Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Steinberg Discusses U.S.-India Nuclear Deal

Yesterday at Brookings Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg discussed the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal and the future of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), saying:
"Both the United States and India have the responsibility to help to craft a strengthened NPT regime to foster safe, affordable nuclear power to help the globe's energy and environment needs, while assuring against the spread of nuclear weapons."
No, it's nothing earth shattering and in fact is pretty standard language, but it's the first major comments on the Deal from the new administration. As senators both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton voted for the deal last September with little comment, but since then little progress has been made. Both Russia and France--taking advantage of last year's waiver for India by the Nuclear Suppliers' Group--already have designated sites in India where they will build nuclear power plants. No U.S. companies currently have been assigned sites for a plant. I don't expect any action on that front until after the Indian elections, since any interaction with the U.S. government makes political headlines in India, but we should note that France and Russia are getting a head start.
Steinberg's comment itself is of course right on point. It will be interesting to see if the Administration starts dropping more comments to try to smooth the way for progress in the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.

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