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Europe

US-India Nuclear Pact -- a Double Standard?

Europe's newspapers on Friday were critical of the US-India pact in which Washington effectively recognizes Delhi's right to develop nuclear weapons.

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Bush and Singh sealed the atomic deal on Thursday

"After the military's nuclear tests in 1998 at the latest, India was isolated on the nuclear policy front and dealing with sanctions -- from the government and Congress in Washington in order to quell the spread of nuclear weapons," wrote Germany's conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "In the past year, Bush all but recognized India as a nuclear power -- for strategic and economic reasons as well as recognizing the facts. And he suggested nuclear cooperation if India were to subject its civilian nuclear facilities to international controls. The leadership in Delhi has now largely agreed to that. That's no small thing for an elite with a great need for prestige and a state that hasn't joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)."

"It's already clear that globalization constantly generates unique ironies," wrote liberal Austrian daily Der Standard. "The new nuclear pact that the US president agreed on with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may indeed serve the long-term aim of increasing independence from oil. But it also comes at a strategic cost: the Chinese will be just as mistrustful of the newly declared Indian-American friendship as Pakistan, not to mention Iran."

"It's understandable and natural that democracies like India and the US come closer," said Sweden's liberal daily Dagens Nyheter. "One can also argue in favor of the pact on nuclear power sealed during President Bush's visit. … Still, the matter is somewhat disturbing. India has not signed the NPT. Now signals are being sent that, in the final analysis, threaten all the work done to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. … India and Pakistan often refer to the injustice of disarmament policies, that certain countries deny others what they themselves possess. … Now, at worst, history could repeat itself."

"Bush would have earned recognition for taking the initiative if he hadn't built the strategic partnership between Washington and Delhi on the basis of a questionable nuclear pact," criticized the Tages-Anzeiger daily in Switzerland. "The bilateral treaty breaks the international rules that are meant to prevent a nuclear armaments race. It raises India -- which consciously did not sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaties so it could be free to develop warheads -- to the level of a nuclear power. And it sends a message to nuclear wannabes like North Korea or Iran that the US government will only withhold nuclear weapon technology from regimes that don't suit it. The obvious double standard belies the superpower's claim to moral leadership. The US president must be prepared for accusations that the half-baked nuclear deal undermines the architecture of global security."

"By signing this historic pact with India, Bush killed two birds with one stone," wrote French daily Liberation. "The aim is to compensate the 21st century's most important geo-strategic upheaval. India has the same trump cards as China: Dynamic population development, the will to develop, technical abilities and the natural ambitions of a very old civilization can make it the world's third-biggest economic power in a few decades. India also has trump cards that China doesn't have: civil rights, the rule of law, a democratic tradition, a decentralized system and a broad middle class that is open to the -- above all English-speaking -- world.

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