Proliferation Press

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

US-India Nuclear Deal: Will Time Run Out?

Posted by K.E. White on January 18, 2008

While groups may be coalescing against the US-India nuclear deal, its passage is still an open question in the twilight days of the Bush administration. But will it meet its summer 2008 deadline?

This AFP article skillfully dissects the difficulties of the US-India nuclear deal:

The nuclear deal with India is virtually stuck on two fronts — in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s administration, where communist and other leftist coalition parties are against it, and at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), where New Delhi is struggling to forge critical atomic safeguards.

Bush and Singh agreed more than two years ago that Washington would provide India with nuclear fuel and technology even though the Asian nation has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

But India had to place selected nuclear facilities under international safeguards, including inspections, which has to be agreed upon by the IAEA board of directors.

A third round of talks between Indian and IAEA officials ended last week without resolution on India’s demands for a mechanism to create a strategic reserve to meet lifetime fuel supply for its civilian nuclear plants, as well as “corrective measures” in the event of stoppage of fuel to power plants, experts said.

Even if IAEA agreed on the safeguards, the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, another regulatory body which also operates by consensus, has to agree to a US proposal to exempt India from a “full scope safeguards” condition of nuclear supply.

Then, an operational agreement for the nuclear deal that has already been adopted by India and the United States as well as the IAEA safeguards has to be approved by the US Congress before summer for it to be implemented by year end, experts said.

The deadline stems from a tight 2008 legislative calendar ahead of the November US presidential elections.

Some might see the quick exit of Nicolas Burns—an architect of the deal—from the White as a symbolic sign of defeat, support for the deal still exists. The White House still has seemingly locked up key members of the NSG, making that roadblock less likely.

And while domestic opposition to the deal in both America and especially India has grown, the deal has still continued to inch along forward.

Below are clips showing the deal’s continued support from the governments of Britain, Australia and China.

Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown continues to support of the US-India nuclear deal, but notes any UK-India nuclear cooperation would require some extra work:

Ahead of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s visit here, Britain on Friday voiced interest in having civil nuclear cooperation with India but said any such collaboration will have to await changes in the international rules.

The nuclear issue is expected to figure in the talks that Brown will have with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on Monday. The Summit talks will also cover the subjects of terrorism, climate change and business cooperation besides regional issues.

”Civil Nuclear cooperation (between India and the UK) is dependent on international status (of rules of trade),” British High Commissioner Sir Richard Stagg said while briefing journalists on Brown’s two-day maiden visit here.

Noting that Britain supports the Indo-US nuclear deal, he said the agreement will ”open opportunities for collaboration which do not exist at present”.

However, Stagg said the ”real opportunity for major India-UK collaboration will require changes” in the status of international rules which New Delhi ”is trying to do” with the IAEA and the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

China also supports—or rather will not derail—the nuclear deal. From a Hindu report discussing India Prime Minister Singh’s recent Beijing trip:

He said China had offered support for civil nuclear cooperation in power generation.

China is an important and influential member of the 45-member NSG.

“I cannot say I have got a firm, definite answer but my own feeling is that the relationship of trust and confidence is now establishing, and we are succeeding in that. When the issue comes before relevant agencies, I do not think China will be an obstacle. I can’t say I have an assurance today,” Dr. Singh said when he was asked whether China would support India’s case at the NSG.

And while Australia’s new Labour government has soured on selling uranium to India, it also seems not willing to block the US-India nuclear deal:

AUSTRALIA has left open the option of supporting international uranium sales to India, even though the Rudd Government has ruled out Australian yellowcake exports to the energy-hungry South Asian giant.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith announced earlier this week that Australia would not sell uranium to India unless it signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

But a spokesman for Mr Smith said yesterday that the Government has not yet made a decision on whether to block uranium sales to India by other countries — an option open to Australia and members of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, which sets global export controls for nuclear materials.

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One Response to “US-India Nuclear Deal: Will Time Run Out?”

  1. Neel said

    The US-India nuke deal is all about bringing India into NPT through the back door, and to cap its nuke programme ! The recent U-turn by the newly elected Australian govt. perfectly illustrates why it is not in India’s best interest to become perpetually dependent on imported Uranium, instead of taking the Thorium route, that would make it vulnerable to economic and strategic threats.
    The deal is also aimed at undermining India’s soverignity on several issues, including its relation with Iran, and freedom to conduct nuke tests in future!
    The domestic opposition to the nuke deal India, is a blessing in disguise, that has saved India from walking into the trap laid by the western powers. The talk of nuke power meeting India’s energy needs in future, is all bulls***t. India certainly does not need the deal in its current shape, that is laden with a series of humiliating conditionalities !
    India’s so called excellent record is not going to take it anywhere !
    In the face of rampant nuke proliferation by China, through its proxies Pakistan and North Korea, India needs to follow the example of Pakistan, in order to be taken seriously by the NSG and IAEA !

    Sincerely,

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