NEW YORK - United States Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said the way India and Pakistan have obtained nuclear arms was legitimate, not like Iran, which he accused of pursuing atomic weapons in violation of its international undertakings.
While Iran is seeking to conceal development of nuclear weapons under the guise of a legitimate programme to generate nuclear power, Bolton said, India and Pakistan "did it legitimately".
His comments, after a speech to the World Jewish Congress, appeared to go further than the Administration of President George W. Bush has previously gone in embracing the two nations' nuclear programmes.
They also coincide with a visit by Bush to India in which the US is offering New Delhi de facto recognition of its nuclear arms programme.
India and the US agreed in principle last year that New Delhi would commit itself to certain international non-proliferation standards including putting its civilian nuclear facilities under international inspection.