Pitching vigorously for support from the US Congress on the nuclear deal with India, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has sounded the right note by sending the message that the deal with New Delhi will help strengthen international security and non-proliferation efforts. Much before the war on terror and 9/11 happened; nuclear non-proliferation had remained the number one foreign policy goal of the United States although it has to be said that even at that time, the US Congress had unceremoniously rejected the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Therefore under the American system of checks and balances President Bush’s nuclear deal with India is far from assured. Even though the testimony of Rice before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was compelling and that the Secretary of State had vociferously put to rest apprehensions of an impending arms race, much still needs to be done by the current Bush Administration to win over the skeptics inside the US Congress who appear to be extremely cautious in treading the road map signed by President Bush with India.

There is no doubt that the India-US nuclear-deal more than anything else represents the face of the post-cold war new world order. Washington would be the first to admit that it’s past non-proliferation policies and of the discriminatory framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) had alienated an emerging country such as India concerned as it was with its own security interests. It was precisely the inequality of the security apparatus arising out of the NPT that had pushed New Delhi onto the nuclear pathway and more so to challenge the exclusive nuclear regime of the five Nuclear Weapon States (NWS). Now that India has become a de-facto nuclear power, it would be in the overall interest of international security to engage New Delhi. 

The nuclear-deal should be seen in the larger context of the elevation of India-United States relationship which is now a strategic partnership as duly acknowledged both by the present Republican President and also his predecessor Bill Clinton a Democrat. If the deal is good for America, India and good for the international community, there is no reason why the American people with its representatives sitting in the US Congress would oppose it. 

At a time when the issue of non-proliferation has once again been brought to the fore with concerns over Iran’s nuclear program, India’s active participation within the new security framework will help in widening the ambit of the nuclear club, which had been the sole preserve of the western developed countries. As a pioneer of the south-south dialogue New Delhi can also use its influence among the developing countries and engage countries like Iran and work within the framework of the IAEA which will address Iran’s need for civilian use of nuclear technology while at the same time putting in place monitoring mechanism under strict international supervision. And for all this to happen, the US Congress will do a big favour for the cause of nuclear non-proliferation by opening its door of cooperation and giving a positive affirmation to the nuclear-deal with India.