On Wednesday the Senate, by an 86 to 13 vote, approved the U.S.-India nuclear trade agreement, obliquely known as the 123 Agreement. India will now share in the perks enjoyed by Israel and Pakistan as a recognized de facto nuclear state that has not signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). Under the agreement, India will lose its nuclear trade windfall if it conducts any more nuclear tests, which it has done twice before in 1974 and 1998.
The 123 Agreement has far-reaching implications and indicates India's increased clout on the world scene, but, to our enemies, the 123 Agreement will be perceived as yet another case of hypocritical favoritism. America's own shortcomings in adhering to the NPT have been pointed out in the past by Iran which, unlike India, Pakistan, and Israel, is a signatory. The third tenet of the NPT grants signatory states the right to pursue peaceful nuclear power and is thus what Iran is able to point to in its nuclear pursuits. Meanwhile, the second tenet calls for disarmament, which is what Iran accuses the United States of not upholding.
In the eyes of the Iranians, the United States is the treaty-breaker, an international criminal, both for its non-adherence to the NPT and its decision to grant aid and trade privileges to other nuclear states who have not even bothered to become NPT signatories in the first place.
The NPT, in this regard, has proven to be a vapid and arbitrary means for guaranteeing international nuclear security. The responsibility to show leadership here must belong to the Unites States. Aid and nuclear trade benefits with Israel, Pakistan, and India should be conditional on, inter alia, signing the NPT and at least showing an effort to adhere to its three tenets. This would be setting a much safer example for the international community than the Pot Calling the Kettle Black Doctrine the Bush administration has employed for the past eight years and it would be an effective diplomatic measure to further erode Iran's justification for its nuclear program down the road.
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