As Washington mulls granting Saudi Arabia a permissive civilian nuclear cooperative agreement in the name of peace and prosperity, it should understand we’ve been here before. Presidents Carter, Clinton, Bush, and Obama also loosened the reins on “atoms for peace” in the name of stability. Their efforts, however, were less than optimal.
Carter was willing to finalize a nuclear cooperative agreement with Iran to demonstrate America’s support of the Shah’s regime. Bill Clinton suspended routine international nuclear inspections of North Korea to secure a unique nuclear Agreed Framework with Pyongyang. George W. Bush went further. He skirted the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to cement a civil nuclear agreement with India, a nonmember. Finally, Barack Obama led the charge to negotiate a special nuclear political understanding with the mullahs.