Friday, March 03, 2006

Bush: Clear as a Bomb

The most obvious question asked of President Bush at his press conference with Prime Minister Singh yesterday was whether the United States is rewarding a nuclear proliferator by signing its agreement with India. Hmmm. Wouldn't you have thought he'd have talking points? Couldn't he remember them? In any case, this was the response, as published on the White House Web site:

QUESTION: Mr. President ... what kind of message, sir, does it send to the world that India, which ... has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty -- is this a reward for bad behavior, as some critics suggest? And what kind of message does it send to other countries that are in the process of developing nuclear technology? Why should they sign the NPT if India is getting a deal without doing so, sir?

PRESIDENT BUSH: What this agreement says is things change, times change, that leadership can make a difference, and telling the world -- sending the world a different message from that which is -- what used to exist in people's minds.
I -- listen, I've always said this was going to be a difficult deal for the Prime Minister to sell to his parliament, but he showed great courage and leadership. And it's difficult for the American President to sell to our Congress, because some people just don't want to change and change with the times. I understand that. But this agreement is in our interests, and therefore, Jim, I'm confident we can sell this to our Congress as in the interest of the United States, and at the same time make it clear that there's a way forward for other nations to participate in a -- in civilian nuclear power in such a way as to address nonproliferation concerns.
India has charted a way forward. You heard the Prime Minister talk about going to the IAEA. That group exists to help safeguard -- safeguard the world from proliferation.
Listen, I proposed reprocessing agreements -- that stands in stark contrast to current nuclear theology that we shouldn't reprocess for proliferation concerns. I don't see how you can advocate nuclear power, in order to take the pressure off of our own economy, for example, without advocating technological development of reprocessing, because reprocessing will not only -- reprocessing is going to help with the environmental concerns with nuclear power. It will make there -- to put it bluntly, there will be less material to dispose.
And so I'm trying to think differently, not to stay stuck in the past, and recognize that by thinking differently, particularly on nuclear power, we can achieve some important objectives, one of which is less reliance on fossil fuels; second is to work with our partners to help both our economies grow; and thirdly is to be strong on dealing with the proliferation issues.
Well, Mr. Prime Minister, it's been a joy.
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