September 28, 2008

House approves nuclear pact with India

The House voted overwhelmingly Saturday to approve a landmark pact that would allow the U.S. to provide nuclear materials to India.

The deal still faces major obstacles in the Senate, making prospects uncertain for passage before President Bush leaves office in January. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the Senate would vote on the accord in the week ahead, possibly Monday.

The House approved the measure by 298-117 without debate in an unusual Saturday session. The accord reverses three decades of U.S. policy by shipping atomic fuel to India in return for international inspections of India's civilian reactors.

Critics say the initiative sends the wrong message to countries like Iran as they pursue atomic programs. India built its bombs outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which provides civilian nuclear trade in exchange for a pledge from nations not to pursue nuclear weapons.

India has refused to sign nonproliferation agreements and has faced a nuclear trade ban since its first atomic test in 1974.

The 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group of countries that supply nuclear material and technology agreed this month to lift the ban on civilian nuclear trade with India after contentious talks and some concessions to countries fearful it could set a dangerous precedent. [via msnbc.com]

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U.N. tells Iran: Stop enrichment

The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a new resolution Saturday reaffirming previous sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt its uranium enrichment program and offering Tehren incentives to do so.

The brief document reaffirmed the three earlier Security Council sanctions resolutions, which imposed progressively tougher sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt its uranium enrichment program. [via msnbc.com]

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September 03, 2008

Rosenberg testimony ordered released

A judge ordered the release of key secret grand jury testimony in the atomic spy trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, citing its value to historians in the debate over national security versus freedom.

The ruling from U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein pertained to witnesses whose sealed testimony was taken in 1950 and 1952. The witnesses are still alive but have not consented to the release or could not be located.

The Rosenbergs were convicted of passing nuclear weapons secrets to the Soviet Union and were executed in 1953. Since then, decoded Soviet cables have appeared to confirm that Julius Rosenberg was a spy, but doubts have remained about Ethel Rosenberg’s involvement.

The judge gave the government two months to appeal. [via MSNBC.com]

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