A Vital Step Toward National Security

The United States' relationship with India and Pakistan is of paramount importance to our nation's political and economic future. With the receding of the Cold War's global divisions and the new realities of globalization and trans-national terrorism, we have embarked on a new era of promise, possibility and uncertainty. This means the United States, the world's only superpower, bears an especially heavy responsibility to remain engaged in all regions of the world, with all nation-states. It is in the national interest for the United States to continue our policy of engagement, collaboration, and exchange which has served the nation well in the past, particularly in the South Asia region.

The President today signed the US-India Nuclear Pact. My bipartisan amendment accepted to this legislation simply stated that the 'South Asia region is so important that the United States should continue its policy of engagement, collaboration, and exchanges with and between India and Pakistan.'

Peaceful nuclear cooperation with India can serve multiple U.S. foreign policy objectives so long as it is undertaken in a manner that minimizes potential risks to the nonproliferation regime. This will be best achieved by sustained and active engagement and cooperation between the India and the United States.

This landmark legislation serves both our strategic interests and our long-standing nonproliferation objectives. We should heed the sage words of the Iraq Study Group which recommends engaging rather than abandoning the possibilities dialogue offers. Our engagement and subsequent abandonment of Iran has resulted in their current pursuit of nuclear technology. We should not make the same mistake in South Asia. We need to remain engaged with India and Pakistan so that they remain our most important allies rather than our adversaries.

We are on the path to fostering an enduring relationship of mutually beneficial cooperation with India. The new realities of globalization and interdependence have brought a convergence of interests between the world's largest democracy and the world's most powerful one. I accompanied President Clinton in his groundbreaking trip to India marking a new phase in the bonds that bind our two countries. This legislation builds on this relationship by permitting an invigorated relationship in the field of nuclear cooperation, an area of critical importance given India's increasing energy demands.