WASHINGTON: The United States can influence a range of factors in the US-India nuclear deal, said the US State Department while responding to Pakistan’s concerns about the agreement.
“There are a range of requirements in these types of deals, and certainly, we factor in a range of factors as we make them. So I will leave it at that,” the department’s spokesperson Jen Psaki told a briefing in Washington.
The United States reached “a breakthrough understanding” on nuclear cooperation with India last week that would allow US companies to establish reactors in the country.
‘Both Islamabad and Delhi assured that US had strong ties with each of them’
The deal was announced during US President Barack Obama’s visit to New Delhi last week. Pakistan, however, warned that the agreement would “further compound the already fragile strategic stability environment” in the region. Pakistan described the deal as “another country-specific exemption from Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) rules”, which would undermine its effectiveness.
The NSG is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of nuclear materials.
Critics of the controversial deal say it creates the dangerous precedent of allowing some countries access to fuel and technology without signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
But the US State Department rejected this criticism. “It’s an understanding on an administrative arrangement for implementing the US-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement,” she said.
“I don’t have more details to discuss publicly with you,” said the US official when asked to comment on Pakistan’s concerns.
Ms Psaki said the US had assured both countries that it had a strong relationship with each of them. “Those relationships are strong, they’re vital to our strategic interests, and they stand on their own,” she added.
“We work with Pakistan on a range of issues. We work with India on a range of issues.” The United States and India, she said, had been working on the nuclear deal for some time and it was finalised last week.
“But we certainly have reiterated our strong commitment to our strategic relationship with Pakistan. Secretary (of State John Kerry) was just there a couple of weeks ago visiting with them and reiterating our commitment,” she said.
When reminded that tensions between the two countries continued unabated, as did fighting across the Working Boundary in the disputed Kashmir region, the US official encouraged the two neighbours to resume talks for reducing tension.
“We consistently encourage dialogue between India and Pakistan. And obviously, the scope and scale of the process there is up to those countries to determine,” she said.
Asked if President Obama had discussed the issue with Indian leaders during his visit, Ms Psaki urged the journalist to ask the White House. “The secretary wasn’t even on the trip with him,” she added.
Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2015