RECESS SUBJECT TO THE CALL OF THE CHAIR -- (Senate - November 16, 2006)
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Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I will be very brief.
The Senator stated it well. And I don't like to argue with my friend from California; I seldom ever win, and I am very uncomfortable because I consider her one of my best friends in this body. So it is an uncomfortable position to be in.
I want to make three points. The first is that right now, if India were to engage in transferring any lethal weaponry to Iran, it would be in violation of our law. It would damage the relationship and fundamentally alter our relationship. It is existing U.S. law.
No country can transfer lethal weaponry to Iran and maintain our support. That is No. 1.
The second point I would like to make is with the underlying concern--I know it is much broader than this--of my friend from California. I think if I read her correctly--and I may not be--somehow this agreement is going to yield the prospect that India will be in a better position to transfer some kind of technology in this military-to-military relationship to Iran that will help Iran get the nuclear capability.
The truth is, as the chairman has pointed out, they have entered into an agreement with us not to do that. But, secondly, they have voted in the IAEA with the Board of Governors to sanction Iran, to take issue with Iran, to report it to the U.N., and they voted with us in the U.N. So they are openly taking on Iran in terms of the thing of greatest concern to us all.
I know my friend spoke eloquently about the support of terrorism by Iran. The implication is that any military-to-military assistance goes directly to helping the capability of the Iranians to help support Hezbollah and other organizations that are terrorist organizations around the world.
I will make the following observation: She also stated accurately that Indian entities have been sanctioned for transferring materials to Iran. I must point out, so has Germany, so has the Spanish, so have European allies of ours.
They also had entities sanctioned. It is not unique to India that an organization would, in fact, provide assistance to Iran in a way that would generate United States sanctions. Spain is the most recent offender.
I conclude by saying this is the hardest piece to swallow--not what the Senator said, but what I am about to say is the hardest piece to swallow. Palmerston had the famous expression that countries don't have permanent friends, they have permanent interests.
Look where India resides and look where Iran resides. One of the countries they are most concerned about is Pakistan. Now, it is not reasonable to assume that India and Iran would not want to have a military relationship where they shared information and/or concerns relative to Pakistan. So for them to forswear any kind of relationship at all with India that has a military or quasi-military relationship is to essentially suggest to them that they should not deal with a common enemy.
Look what we are doing. We are dealing with a country that we sanctioned before, that we have clearly decided is not a democratic country, that clearly has probably the largest percentage of jihadists residing in it, with, arguably, the least significant effort to deal with these jihadists--the country of Pakistan. What are we doing? Because we have permanent interests, and our interests are that we have support in the war against jihadists and al-Qaida and terrorist organizations, we are cooperating with a country we otherwise probably would not cooperate with.
How would we feel if a European country or any other country around the world said--or India said--we will not trade with you, the United States of America, as long as you continue to have a military-to-military relationship with Pakistan, a country that is, in fact, exporting--or if they are not exporting, at least cooperating with or turning a blind eye to the terrorist organizations that reside within their country? We would say, Wait a minute. You want to trade with us, trade with us. You want to tell us whether out of our self-interest we can cooperate with Pakistan--which is not what you call a model democracy--then we would say no.
The only generic point I want to make, I know of no evidence--it may exist, but I am unaware of it--where India is materially cooperating with Iran in order for Iran to be able to better supply, support, and/or encourage terrorism. I know of no such interest and no such circumstance. Maybe my friend may know what I do not. She may have gotten a recent briefing with the Intelligence Committee where somebody said that, but I am unaware of any such cooperation that has the net effect of promoting terror.
What I do know is we have built into the law now the ability to sanction India if, in fact, India does supply lethal weapons or was in any way cooperating with promoting Iran's nuclear program. Beyond that, it would break the spirit of the entire agreement we have with India. If it came to light that somehow there was evidence that India was in any way cooperating with Iran's nuclear program, this deal is done. This is over. It is finished. It is gone.
At the root of this overall agreement, which my colleague, understandably, does not like, the underlying issue here is this agreement between India and the United States. The underlying premise is based upon a notion of a maturing relationship based on trust that they will not only not violate the letter but will not violate the spirit of this agreement.
Let me conclude by saying what the spirit of the agreement is. The spirit of the agreement is we are not going to do anything, United States of America, that we would not otherwise be able to do; we will not do anything with what you provide for us that will increase our capacity, our ability, our desire, or our intent to deal with our nuclear program.
They have said straightforwardly at the same time, We are keeping our nuclear program. We ain't giving it up.
It is a little bit like us saying now--and this will be my last statement--you know, Pakistan violated the law, Pakistan violated our law. It went out and it broke the deal and it did what India did. On top of that, Pakistan was the largest proliferator in the history of the world of nuclear capability through A.Q. Khan. And guess what. We are going to bite our nose off to spite our face. Now that we need Pakistan in dealing with this war on terror, we are going to sanction Pakistan, we are not going to cooperate with Pakistan, we are going to do nothing with Pakistan even though we acknowledge that might give greater sustenance to al-Qaida, bin Laden, the Taliban, et cetera.
Countries make hard choices. They are not neat and clean. I suggest if we are going to impose upon India a requirement to cease and desist with any military-to-military relationships notwithstanding they have common enemies and common concerns with Iran, as bad as Iran is, notwithstanding the fact that there is no evidence that they are promoting and/or giving the ability to support terrorism's greater thrust, notwithstanding the fact they have agreed to do everything they can to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, if we are going to sanction them this way, I ask the rhetorical question: Why wouldn't the rest of the world sanction us for our relationship with Pakistan. And why are we cooperating with Pakistan? If anybody in the deal is not the ideal partner right now, it is Pakistan.
But what do we do? To steal a phrase from a former President that I often hear, comments we hear on CNN all the time, his comment always is ``you got to accept life in the world as you find it.'' I am paraphrasing a former President. I think it is close to a quote. We have to accept the world as we find it, make the best out of it, and promote our interest to the greatest extent. Sometimes it means we make less than perfect deals.
Had Chairman Lugar been President Lugar, had Senator Boxer been Senator Boxer, had I been their Secretary of State, I believe I could have gotten a better deal than we got. But the fact is, we are where we are, as the old trade expression goes, and I believe the downside of rejecting this treaty is so much further down than any downside that flows from supporting this changed law allowing this to go forward. In that sense, it is not a close call.
I suggest to my friend, I think everything she says has merit in the abstract. But we are living in the world we live in now based on the parameters we are looking at. I think this amendment, which would kill the agreement, is not worth the candle because it would do that--not because it doesn't have underlying merit.
I yield the floor.
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AMENDMENT NO. 5183
Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, I would like to briefly recap what my amendment does and why I believe it is important for the Senate to adopt it.
The amendment is very simple. It will require the President to make determinations that nothing in the nuclear cooperation agreement he negotiates with India will contribute to India's nuclear weapons program. Both the United States and India have stated that expanding India's nuclear arsenal is not an objective of this agreement, and my amendment simply makes those claims binding.
The United States is prohibited under our current obligations in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to directly or indirectly assist the nuclear weapons programs of other states. My amendment simply makes clear that the United States is actually abiding by its international commitments. It does not require the President to guarantee what India will do; he simply must certify that he is satisfied the agreement will not contribute to India's nuclear weapons program.
I urge my colleagues to support the amendment.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware.
Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, let me, in brief response, say I understand the intent of the amendment. But the amendment uses the words, for example, ``India cannot use United States-origin equipment ..... ,'' ``India cannot replicate and subsequently use. .....'' No one can certify they cannot. It is possible they could. The question is whether we are insisting that they not use it. We are insisting they are not using it, and we have built into this agreement a requirement on the part of the administration to look at whether they are, in fact, doing it.
So the question is not whether they can or cannot. Anything can happen. A President cannot certify it is not possible. That is what ``cannot'' says. But he can certify to the best of his knowledge it is not occurring. That is what we require. ``Cannot'' makes this a deal-breaker. No President could certify it. ``Cannot'' translates into ``it is not possible to replicate, it is not possible to ..... ,'' and no one can certify to that.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.