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United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. BIDEN. Madam President, today the Senate is engaged in a truly historic process. When we pass this bill--and I expect we will do that--America will take a giant step closer to approving a major shift in United States-India relations. If we are right, this shift will increase the prospects for stability and progress in South Asia and, I would argue, the world at large. The Committee on Foreign Relations has worked to move this project forward, while safeguarding the role of Congress and minimizing any harm to nuclear nonproliferation policies and institutions. There is no one who has been stronger in dealing with the issue of nonproliferation than my colleague, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. I have supported him in those efforts for years.

I urge my colleagues to take a real close look at the argument that is being made by some that this is going to promote the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The fact is, I believe it will not.

I am going to urge my colleagues at the appropriate time to support this bill. It has been a cliche to speak of the United States-India relationship as a bond between the world's two oldest democracies and the world's two largest democracies, but this cliche is also a fact. Shared political values are the foundation of our relationship and, I would argue, the raison d'etre for taking a chance for those who are doubtful on this treaty. Both the United States and India believe in the dignity of man and the consent of the governed. Both countries are multiethnic and multireligious. Both countries seek economic and social betterment for their people and believe that it is best achieved through peaceful change, both domestically and externally. If that were the whole story, however, it would not have taken us six decades to get to the moment we are now.

For much of the last 60 years, the political structures were trumped by geopolitical ones. Democracy in democratic India was often closer to the Soviet Union, while the United States often favored India's rival Pakistan, particularly during the most undemocratic phase of Pakistan's national history. That alignment was an anomaly of the cold war. Today the United States and Pakistan are important allies in the war on terror and, at the same time, today the national interests of the United States and India are in concert, perhaps more than any time in the past. India and the United States are both status quo powers, at least regarding territory. Neither of us has any claim on any neighboring piece of real estate. We face similar challenges from extremists and terrorists; in some cases, from the same terrorist groups and same individuals. We share a common desire for stability and the spread of liberal democracy throughout Asia and, indeed, throughout the world. And we share a concern about the world's need for energy, especially energy that does not increase the speed and risk of global warming.

The need for new energy supplies is an important underpinning of the issues before us today, legislation opening the way for civil nuclear cooperation between the United States and India. In time, I hope India's burgeoning energy needs will prove a spur to a wide variety of alternatives to fossil fuels, including solar, wind, and biofuel. On many of these, India has already begun to move, but at present, nuclear power is a vital part of India's energy equation. It is likely to grow in significance in the years to come. Experts note correctly that nuclear power will still provide only a small portion of India's energy consumption even when this passes. But at the margin, the contribution of nuclear power will be greater, and India's leaders across the political spectrum see nuclear power as an important and necessary contributor to their country's economic progress.

The Agreement on Nuclear Cooperation negotiated by President Bush and Prime Minister Singh in July of 2005 cannot be implemented unless Congress approves changes in U.S. law. So we in the Senate must now address both the opportunities and the nonproliferation issues raised by that agreement. The administration proposed that we treat the United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement as if it met all the requirements of section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act. In fact, it does not. There is no way, of course, that India, with a nuclear weapons program that is outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, could meet these requirements. I compliment my chairman for making it clear to the administration that was a nonstarter.

Were Congress to accept the administration's proposal, it would lose any real ability to influence a nuclear agreement with India. The agreement would be sent to Congress, but we would have to enact a motion to disapprove over a likely Presidential veto within 90 days in order to stop any agreement from entering into effect. That would be a gigantic usurpation of our responsibility. The Foreign Relations Committee, under the leadership of the chairman, rejected this approach, as did the House of Representatives.

The bill before us today would require, instead, an affirmative vote of Congress before a United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement can enter into effect. Section 3709 provides expedited procedures for the resolution to approve such a United States-India agreement. That resolution would not contain any conditions, and it could not be amended. But if Congress found the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement wanting in some respect, it could either reject the expedited resolution or approval or pass a different resolution that did contain conditions. That is what Congress did with the United States-China Nuclear Cooperation Agreement in 1985. So this bill protects congressional powers not for the sake of protecting congressional powers, as if we were interested in turf; it protects the balance of power, the separation of power, which is essential in the formulation of a policy, including foreign policy. At the same time, it offers procedures that will expedite approval of a good agreement.

Section 3907 also allows the President to waive section 128 of the Atomic Energy Act, which provides for annual submission of one export license to Congress. That provision has never been used and would be of little benefit to Congress, as a sale could be blocked only if a resolution of disapproval were enacted, again, over the likelihood of a Presidential veto.

The administration argued that section 128, while giving Congress little real power, would harm U.S. industry by creating an annual event that would frighten both the customer and the investor from proceeding. We agreed, and this bill includes a section 128 waiver provision that the administration requested. Chairman Lugar and I yield to nobody in our commitment to nonproliferation, and no one has a stronger record on this than Senator Lugar. We believe we have presented to this body a bill that allows civil nuclear cooperation with India to proceed and ends India's nuclear isolation, but it does so without seriously jeopardizing the hard-won nonproliferation gains of nearly the last four decades.

Specifically, our aims have been as follows:

To preserve the right of Congress to conduct a meaningful review of the peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement that India and the United States are negotiating; secondly, to ensure that such nuclear cooperation is used exclusively in India's civil nuclear program and that India continues to be a ``good citizen'' when it comes to nonproliferation, as it has been; to preserve the role and procedures of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and of the International Atomic Energy Agency; and to do all this without requiring any renegotiation of the United States-India treaty deal.

Look, every time we have a treaty presented to us in the Senate, there are those of us, including my friend from North Dakota who is on the Senate floor, who believe we can probably do it better. We believe we could have gotten a better deal. We believe we could have gotten a treaty that was even better than the one that exists. But the old expression is that we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

It wasn't really very easy to do what we set out to do, but I truly believe we have succeeded in the points I have just made. There is a reason this bill was reported out of committee with a 16-to-2 margin; we did really try to address the major nonproliferation concerns legitimately raised by colleagues in the committee.

The Foreign Relations Committee did not endorse, for example, the administration's request for broad waiver authority regarding section 129 of the Atomic Energy Act. That section terminates nuclear exports to a country under certain circumstances. The administration did not want that in place.

The committee agreed that the President needs the right to waive those portions of section 129 which would end exports because India has a nuclear weapons program or because it has tested nuclear devices in the past. But section 3709 doesn't grant a waiver authority regarding those portions of section 129 which would end nuclear exports if India were to, 1, test a nuclear device in the future; 2, terminate or materially violate the IAEA safeguard; 3, materially violate its agreement with the United States, or engage in nuclear proliferation.

Look, if India does any of those things, then the premise upon which we have dealt with a good friend and neighbor was falsely relied upon. I believe India understands the consequence of this bilateral relationship as profoundly as we do. If I am wrong about that and India were to do any or all of the four things I just named, it would clearly violate the spirit of this agreement, part of which, as all agreements ultimately are, is based on some sense of comity and trust.

This bill requires that India sign a safeguards agreement with the IAEA and negotiate an additional protocol as well. It requires the President to certify, moreover, that the safeguards agreement is ``in accordance with IAEA standards, principles, and practices.'' The President must certify to that effect.

We understand that India, having nuclear weapons, will not accept full-scope safeguards. But the language in this bill makes clear our expectation that the safeguards agreement India works out with the IAEA will guard effectively against diversion of foreign nuclear material and technology to India's military program.

Section 3709 also requires the President to certify that the Nuclear Suppliers Group has decided to permit civil nuclear commerce with India and that the NSG, Nuclear Suppliers Group, decision was made by consensus. We do not want to damage the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which has been a vital institution in our fight against nuclear proliferation. So this bill protects the Nuclear Suppliers Group's role in governing peaceful nuclear commerce.

The administration has said repeatedly that this is an India nuclear deal, not intended to permit nuclear commerce with Pakistan or Israel--the only other states that never signed the NPT. The committee's bill incorporates that distinction by requiring the President to certify that the NSG--Nuclear Suppliers Group--decision does not permit nuclear commerce with any other state that does not accept full-scope safeguards.

The NSG is not likely to single out India as an exception to its guidelines. Rather, it will create tests that a non-NPT state must meet before nuclear commerce with the country may take place. The committee believes that such a test should be substantial, so that the countries outside the NPT are not all given the same benefits as the nonnuclear weapon states inside the treaty. Thus, the bill before us today is designed to maintain important nonproliferation policies that have served our country well.

With regard to sections 106 and 107, two sections of this bill, they have been cited by some Indian officials as causing concern. I will address these sections, as I do not believe such concern is merited.

Section 106 in the agreement bars the executive branch from exporting to India ``any equipment, materials, or technology related to the enrichment of uranium, the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, or the production of heavy water.'' That is because these technologies are all used to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. In fact, the administration already has a worldwide policy of not exporting these technologies. Section 106 merely makes that a legal requirement in this case.

Because section 106 makes this a legal requirement, we also added two exemptions. One would be for a program such as the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, which is to develop a new generation of proliferation-resistant nuclear facilities. In other words, the second exemption would be for a facility in an IAEA-approved program to provide alternatives to national fuel cycle capability. For example, there might some day be a South Asian regional uranium enrichment facility under IAEA auspices.

Some Indian officials are reportedly upset because section 106 singles out India. But they have long known that it is U.S. policy not to sell them these technologies, so this is a matter more of pride than of substance, which I hope they deal with. I would not object to making section 106 apply worldwide, but we believed this was too large a step to take in this bill. I would think it should apply worldwide.

Section 107 requires a program to maintain accountability with respect to nuclear materials, equipment, and technology that we sell, lease, export, or reexport to India. This program would include end-use monitoring conditions, as appropriate. A similar program exists for U.S. nuclear exports to China. Such a monitoring program would enhance confidence in India's separation of its civilian and military nuclear programs. It would also further ensure U.S. compliance with article I of the nonproliferation treaty.

Indian officials are reportedly upset that American personnel might need to visit India's nuclear sites. It should come as no surprise, however, that we need to ensure that U.S. nuclear materials, equipment, and technology are not diverted to military uses.

The purpose of section 107 is not to impose new conditions upon India but, rather, to make sure the executive branch doesn't forget its obligation to guard against diversion. That obligation is already U.S. policy. It also flows from article I of the nonproliferation treaty, which requires nuclear weapon states not to assist nonnuclear weapon states ``in any way'' to manufacture nuclear weapons. And India remains a nonnuclear weapons state under both the NPT and U.S. law, despite the fact that now it does have nuclear weapons.

I hope that in conference we can adjust the wording of section 107 to correct any potential misunderstanding of its effect, which is not intended to be onerous. I also hope that Indian officials will understand the U.S. need to embark upon nuclear commerce with India in a manner that maintains our nonproliferation policies and fulfills our international obligation. I believe the bill reported out by the Foreign Relations Committee does that in a most reasonable manner and that it will provide a strong foundation for a new beginning in United States-Indian relations.

The United States-Indian agreement is much more than just a nuclear deal, though, Mr. President. I believe historians will see this as a historic step, part of the dramatic and positive departure in United States-Indian relationship that was begun by President Clinton.

President Bush is to be commended for continuing and accelerating the journey President Clinton started in our relations with India.

If I were asked to name the pillars for security in the 21st century, India and the United States would be two of them. India and the United States, working in cooperation toward the same goal, can provide the beginning of a strong foundation for a stable world. And for the United States, no relationship, in my view, is more important than the United States-India relationship maturing along the lines that have begun.

The ultimate success of this agreement will rest on India's willingness and ability to reduce tensions with its nuclear neighbors and achieve nuclear stability. We all hope to see the day when India and Pakistan voluntarily reduce or end their fissile material production, as the recognized NPT nuclear weapons states already have done.

I hope especially that India will not use its peaceful nuclear commerce to free up domestic uranium for increased production of nuclear weapons. The United States-India deal doesn't bar India from doing that. But such a nuclear buildup--unless carried out in response to a direct threat from its nuclear-armed neighbors--would be a gross abuse of the world's trust, in my view. It would sour relations between India and the United States, just at a time when both countries hope to build upon a new foundation that has been laid in the past decade and which I respectfully suggest is in the overwhelming self-interest of both countries.

India and the world will also benefit if India embraces these critical nonproliferation standards. These include the Proliferation Security Initiative; the guidelines and policies of the Australia Group, which, I add, controls exports that could help countries build chemical or biological weapons; and the guidelines and policies of the Wassenaar Arrangement, which combats the spread of advanced conventional weapons.

India is a major world power. India needs to--and will, I believe--step up to this awesome responsibility. As an important world power, it is important that support for the complete nonproliferation regime would make a gigantic difference in the world. Currently, however, India doesn't stop its companies from exporting dual-use chemicals and equipment to countries such as Iran because those exports are not banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Other leading countries have concluded that unrestrained exports of items that could be used to produce chemical or biological weapons and advanced conventional weapons are a real danger to world stability. It is my fervent hope and prayer that India reaches that conclusion as well. It is time for them to adopt, in my opinion, the same approach to the dangers posed by such proliferation.

India will not attain the respect and status it seeks and deserves in the world unless it takes a willing and active role in preventing proliferation of all kinds. The nuclear deal we are considering today is a sign, however, of the world's desire to bring India into the fold. I hope India will use this deal as a departure point from which it will branch out to embrace all international nonproliferation activities. It will surely be welcomed if it does.

In my view, the bill before us is a victory for United States-India relationships. It is a victory for the quest to move beyond fossil fuels. And it is a victory we have achieved while doing our best to maintain the global effort to end proliferation.

I believe, not guaranteed by this agreement, it will be also a point of departure for India to rethink its role in the world with regard to proliferation of all kinds. I sincerely hope it does.

I end where I began. I think United States-India relations is two of the pillars upon which we have a chance--we have a chance, a real chance--to build a 21st century that is much more stable than the 20th century and to avoid the carnage of the 20th century. It cannot be done without India's cooperation, and it can be done with India's leadership.

I thank my colleagues for listening. I understand my friend from North Dakota may have an amendment or may wish to seek the floor.

I yield the floor.


Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I rise to speak to the Dorgan amendment. I appreciate, respect, and share the sentiment and concern of the Senator from North Dakota who has been doggedly supportive of pushing nonproliferation and a nonproliferation regime. And if this were 1998 or 1999, I would support the Senator's amendment. But this is 2006, and a great deal has changed since India and Pakistan both exploded nuclear devices in 1998.

The Security Council resolution passed after those tests called for several things: one including for India and Pakistan to immediately stop their nuclear weapons programs and their ballistic missile programs. We wish they would have ceased their nuclear programs. They did not. We wish they had ceased their programs with regard to missiles. Well, they did not.

So the fact is, it is not realistic. We wish they would join the nuclear test ban treaty. But do we really think that is possible under this administration that is not supportive of a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty?

In this legislation, and in the United States-India nuclear agreement, we are making clear that continued cooperation under this nuclear agreement and nuclear exports to India will cease if India, one, tests a nuclear device, terminates or materially violates its IAEA safeguards, materially violates its agreement with the United States, or engages in nuclear proliferation.

Further, the bill requires that India sign a safeguards agreement with the IAEA and negotiate an additional protocol. It also requires the President to certify that the safeguards agreement is in accordance with the IAEA standards, principles, and practices.

In sum, that is U.S. policy toward India and its nuclear program, and I do not see the purpose of revisiting the old history of 1998. We need to look forward, and that is what we are doing in this legislation. We are using this legislation and the agreement to build a new relationship with India on this issue, and also using it as a means to strengthen the bilateral relationship across the board. And in doing so, we have enshrined important nonproliferation principles into this legislation because we cannot turn back the history of 1998.

So at the appropriate time--and I think we are working now on a consent agreement--I would urge the defeat of the Dorgan amendment.

I yield the floor.


Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I will be very brief.

As I said, I really admire, respect, and observe the passion of my friend from North Dakota on this issue. But I think the comparisons are not particularly apt. The wing strut the Senator has was able to be held in his hand because two countries--the United States and the Soviet Union--concluded that it was in their mutual interest to cease and desist and/or significantly reduce the threat each posed to the other. And they were the only threats that existed. The only threat to the United States from a nuclear capability of an ICBM or a Backfire bomber resided in the Soviet Union.

Now, we tried. I was the author of--and, as a matter of fact, there was a South Dakota Senator named Pressler, along with JOHN GLENN, who early on put in legislation relating to sanctions for India.

India obviously violated those sanctions and did not comply with the U.N. resolution. But there is a reason for that--not a justification, a reason. They looked across their borders north and west and saw two nuclear powers--one emerging nuclear power, one existing nuclear power--and they concluded, rightly or wrongly, from their perspective that they had to be a nuclear power.

It is clear nonproliferation does not work in a vacuum. Nonproliferation entreatments, requests, proddings to a nation that finds itself in a situation where it believes it is threatened by a nuclear neighbor have not worked particularly well, offering those two examples, for example.

It seems to me what we are attempting to do is the only route to get to the point where both India and Pakistan are part of a nonproliferation treaty; that is, we are trying to change the regional situation on the ground. It is not going to happen through a nonproliferation treaty. It is going to happen through a rapprochement between India and Pakistan. The idea that we would be able to, through any legislation, prevent India from moving forward to add additional nuclear weapons, if they so choose to do that--there is no legislation we can pass to do that.

What this legislation does is recognize the reality of the geopolitical situation in the region, set up safeguards to deal with the ability for India to use anything we are doing with them to be able to further advance their nuclear capability, give them a new buy-in to an international regime that will have the effect of putting pressure on them to move in the direction we and the Soviets moved on back when that Backfire bomber strut was sawed off a wing, and that is the route we choose. It is not pretty. It is not clear. It is no guarantee. It is not certain to succeed. But I do know one thing: Absent this agreement, there is a likelihood things get worse instead of better, beyond what may already occur.

I appreciate the Senator's comparisons, but I think they are not as apt as they might appear to be because, again, India's motivation, in terms of its viewing its need for a nuclear arsenal, is not unlike the motivation that existed with regard to the United States and the Soviet Union. It is going to take a geopolitical settlement of that, not a nuclear arms control agreement imposing a settlement on India and Pakistan at this moment, now that the genie is out of the bottle.

I appreciate my friend's point and respect his point of view, but I disagree that it is the best way to move forward.


Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I want to associate myself with the remarks made by the Senator from Indiana.

The amendment requires India to declare as civil reactors all reactors that supply electricity to the civil sector.

There is no way that India will accept this.

I might wish they would, but they will not.

That's because for decades, they have built reactors that can be either civil or military.

So India has reserved as military enough reactors to produce more plutonium for nuclear weapons--in case they decide they need to do that.

But India will also use those reactors for electric power.

If this amendment is enacted, India will have to choose to either make all its power reactors civil, and build new ones to produce plutonium; or waste the electric power capability of its current military reactors.

India will not do that.

So this is a killer amendment.

It's also a killer amendment because it requires India to commit to verifiably reduce its nuclear weapons stockpile.

I wish India would do that--but it will not.

India fears both Pakistan and China, which also have nuclear weapons.

The Dorgan amendment does not require Pakistan and China to reduce their stockpiles, only India.

This is a non-starter for India.

Finally, the amendment requires India to commit to ``joining a legally-binding, nuclear test moratorium.'' I wish India would do that. I hope the administration will push for that.

But for now, there is only one ``legally-binding, nuclear test moratorium.'' It is called the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty.

And I do not think this administration will press India to join that treaty.

So, I sympathize with all of the concerns raised by this amendment. But I know that it would kill the nuclear deal.

That is the bottom line: if we support the deal, we have to reject this amendment.

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