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Bush Confronted on Nuclear Pact

There is a beautiful story in the LA Times this morning on Bush's failure to fool all of the people all of the time, even at a carefully managed event: Bush Confronted on Nuclear Pact

While speaking about Medicare, the president gets a surprise challenge from a negotiator of the nonproliferation treaty that India never signed.
By Peter Wallsten, Times Staff Writer
March 16, 2006

WASHINGTON — Two weeks after signing a controversial nuclear cooperation agreement with India, President Bush had a surprise encounter Wednesday with one of the original negotiators of the very anti-nuclear treaty that critics say is threatened by the deal.

The exchange capped an afternoon of unusually confrontational questions posed to Bush by a public audience — a change for a White House that has frequently organized friendly crowds to show Bush in a positive light.

The India challenge came from Lawrence Weiler, 85, a resident at the Washington-area retirement center that was the venue for the Wednesday event, intended to promote the president's new Medicare prescription drug program.

When Bush opened the floor to questions, and one man stood to thank the president for making U.S. civil nuclear technology available to India, Weiler could not contain himself.

"Mr. President, there are some — and I guess I would include myself — who have different views about the Indian agreement, because they're concerned about the effect that the agreement will have on the capacity of India to stimulate its own production of nuclear weapons," he said.

Weiler told Bush that he was one of the few surviving negotiators of the 1970 Nonproliferation Treaty, which was ratified by the world's major nuclear powers and more than 180 other nations to limit the spread of nuclear weapons.

India never signed the treaty, and critics charge that Bush's plan to let U.S. firms begin sharing civil nuclear technology with India would help that country expand its weapons program and invigorate a nuclear arms race by inspiring other nations to ignore the treaty.

Weiler, who worked for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, went on to ask Bush to consider adopting a "no first use" policy on nuclear weapons as an additional enticement to keep the treaty intact.