Proliferation Press

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

News Alert: US-India Nuclear Deal Slipping Away?

Posted by K.E. White on October 12, 2007

Manmohan Singh

India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has—for the first time—publicly discussed the possible failure of the US-India nuclear deal.

From AFP:

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday ruled out early elections amid a political uproar over a controversial Indo-US nuclear deal, but admitted the accord may never gain approval.

The communists have repeatedly threatened to withdraw their support for the minority Congress-led coalition government if it proceeds with the landmark pact, which would allow energy-hungry India to buy civilian nuclear technology.

Singh said he hoped that “reason and common sense” would ultimately prevail on the Indo-US agreement, which he described as “an honourable deal that is good for India and good for the world.”

But “if the deal does not come through, that is not the end of life,” Singh added.

“It will be a disappointment. In life, one has to live with some disappointments.”

It was the first time that Singh, who had staked his political credibility on the nuclear agreement seen as a cornerstone of warmer Indo-US ties, had publicly evoked the possibility that the deal might not go ahead.

It marked a sharp change in stance from two months ago, when Singh dared the communists to withdraw their support for the coalition if they were unhappy with the deal.

Voice of America explores the roots of Indian opposition to the US India nuclear deal:

London-based journalist Vijay Rana says some of the opposition to the deal in India stems from doubts about the United States dating back to the Cold War period when India was allied with the former Soviet Union.“The Indian opinion can be divided into two broad sections, says Dr. Rana.” One is the young India, the educated India, the high-tech India, rising and shining India. These younger people have no reservations as far as America is concerned, and they increasingly look forward to strengthening this relationship, which is based on economic ties largely. But then there is an older India, India of the cold war years, and these communists, in fact, largely survive on that part of public opinion.”

India’s opposition Bhartiya Janata Party, or B-J-P, also opposes the deal, even though the previous government, which was led by the B-J-P, laid the groundwork for cooperation between India and the United States. Experts say the B-J-P’s opposition is largely due to internal party politics, as well as to shortsightedness on the part of some B-J-P leaders. These politicians aspire to fresh elections that might result if the communists withdraw support from the Congress-led government over the nuclear deal.

One Response to “News Alert: US-India Nuclear Deal Slipping Away?”

  1. Neel said

    The nuke deal failing to get popular support in India, has nothing to do with differing view point of young India, or older India, as suggested by a London based commentator.
    The deal is a hard negotiated agreement between two soverign nations, and not any kind of charity from the US towards India, as the western media and the non proliferation lobby is trying to suggest.
    As far as India is concerned, there is no alternative to more nuke tests, to validate the reliability of the warhead designs. The US India nuke deal and the Hyde Act exposes India to the real danger of massive cost to be imposed on it, in terms of withdwrawal of nuke cooperation and return of material, in case of an Indian nuke test in future. The current debate in India is about, whether it is worth the risk.
    Also, even before the deal is finalised, India is being pressurised to review its ties with Iran, a friendly country, that is of strategic importance. While the US is not sensitive to India’s concerns when it comes to providing military support to Pakistan, it expects India to be sensitive to its own concerns vis a vis Iran.
    India must not take any step, that looks promising in the short term, but would make its national interests vulnerably to external forces, at a later date.
    These are the real issues being debated in India, and the fate of the nuke deal would largely depend on the outcome of the debate.


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