Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

US-India Nuclear Deal Derailed and Threatening India’s UPA Government?

Posted by K.E. White on September 25, 2007

The Asia Times Online reports on the imperiled nuclear deal, and how it might just take down Prime Minister Manmohan Singh:

A speeded-up negotiation process with the IAEA and the NSG is likely to muddy the waters of the UPA-left talks and might lead to their collapse. The Communist Party of India recently warned that if the government held talks with the IAEA on a safeguards agreement at its general conference in Vienna, the CPI would regard it as a “breach of trust”.

Indian Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar did address the IAEA meeting last week, but refrained from making a specific mention of the US-India nuclear deal during his speech. However, he held informal consultations with IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei and nuclear officials from different countries.

It is uncertain, however, if the deal will sail smoothly through the IAEA, and especially the NSG.

Although the IAEA bureaucracy, and ElBaradei in particular, is sympathetic to the deal, the agency’s board of governors may not be unanimous in conceding India’s demand for a special safeguards protocol, which limits inspections on Indian facilities to the period during which they receive imported supplies. Typically, the IAEA demands safeguards in perpetuity.

Reuters reports on an October deadline for Singh’s government to approve the deal, lest new elections are to be called:

India’s government and its communist allies are eyeing ways out of their face-off over a nuclear pact with the United States, but failure to grasp these straws will spark a fresh crisis next month, officials said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s coalition faces an informal end-October deadline to start working on the next steps needed to clinch the deal, and if the row with left parties opposed to it is not resolved by then early polls may be called, they said.

Singh does not need to have the Indian parliament approve the deal, but he risks forcing elections if he does not get his Communist allies on board with the deal. Will Singh get an agreement from the left, or will he risk snap elections which could not only shoot down the deal but take him out of a job?

And just in case you were wondering, the US-India nuclear deal is a top priority of the fading Bush administration. From Condoleezza Rice’s interview with Reuters:

“I am not worried about my legacy. With 14 months to go, I’m worrying about what we’ve yet achieved on the Palestinian-Israeli track, the North Korean nuclear issue, the India civil-nuclear deal and trade agreements. We have got a big agenda,” Rice told Reuters Editorial Board in an interview, text of which was released by the State Department.

Let’s have a little score-card:

Israel-Palestine peace process = fat chance

North Korea Nuclear Crisis = contained after years of botched policy, but also greatly intractable

Trade Agreements = Democrats run Congress

US-India Nuclear Deal = no means a sure bet

But it is nice to here that Iraq isn’t dominating Rice’s agenda; there are other issues that could use a year of smart policy.

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