India basks in U.S. nuclear deal, but doubts surface


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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India took another stride onto the world stage this week when U.S. President
George Bush recognised it as a responsible nuclear state and promised cooperation with its civilian atomic power programme.


The deal has been greeted with euphoria, but some of it has already begun to cool. Energy experts say the gains will take decades to materialise and will not answer India's immediate and fast-growing energy needs.

And although the visit has been called the highest point ever for India-U.S. relations, political analysts here have warned New Delhi not to be drawn too closely into Washington's orbit, and stressed the need to balance ties with China.

"A historic breakthrough" and "a paradigm shift" in India's relationship with the United States, Indian newspapers wrote of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Washington and the nuclear agreement reached on Monday.

At a stroke, the deal removed much of the stigma India attracted after conducting nuclear weapons tests in 1998, and will catalyse an atomic energy industry hampered by sanctions since those tests.

But there were political hurdles ahead, commentators said. The deal could be scuppered by opposition from the U.S. Congress, from other nuclear powers, or even from countries which gave up their own nuclear ambitions to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

"A grand bargain," the Economic Times wrote in an editorial on Thursday. "But cross the hurdles before cheering."

Bush has promised to lobby his own Congress as well as his foreign allies, to amend American laws and international agreements which bar nuclear cooperation with India because it has not signed the nuclear NonProliferation Treaty.

In return, India has promised to separate its civilian and military nuclear programmes, continue a moratorium on nuclear testing and place its civilian nuclear facilities under U.N. inspection.

Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, whose government conducted the controversial 1998 nuclear tests, says his successor has given away too much.

"Separating the civilian and the military would be very difficult, if not impossible," he said in a statement. "The costs involved will also be prohibitive."

Vajpayee's former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra worries that fissile material from civilian reactors could no longer be used to produce weapons - a concession, he says, which should not be surrendered unilaterally, but only as part of a global agreement among all nuclear powers.

"We are in effect putting a cap on our own nuclear (weapons) capability," he told Reuters.


Analysts at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) are more enthusiastic. Bush's words, says Uday Bhaskar, have conferred new respectability on a country whose image was tarnished by those nuclear tests.

"There was always a sense of disapproval, that India had bucked the system," he said. "You would even hear the term 'pariah state'. The symbolism of this is very important."

India, short of domestic uranium to fuel its nuclear plants, now hopes the U.S. will resume supplies to two reactors it helped build for India at Tarapur near Bombay in 1969.

If not, Monday's deal should at least allow India to access fuel -- as well as technological cooperation -- from countries like France or Russia, says Bhaskar's colleague and former nuclear scientist R.R. Subramanium.

"This will ease American objections," he said. "And once America leads change, other countries will fall behind."

It will also give India something less concrete but potentially even more significant - more global clout.

Bhaskar says India and the United States, the world's two largest democracries, are on the verge of meaningful engagement for the first time in history.

The United States may be wooing India as a counterweight to China, and Manmohan Singh's Communist coalition allies may complain of a sell-out, but Bhaskar says New Delhi will be wary of being sucked too far into Washington's orbit or into an anti-China axis.

Instead, it will need to find what he called "strategic equipoise", balancing relations with both China and America.

Historic breakthrough for India-US relations


Source: BBC News


Historic breakthrough for India-US relations

India and the United States have made a historic breakthrough in their relations, striking a deal on civilian nuclear co-operation.


The deal recognises India as a responsible nuclear power entitled to benefits and gains denied for three decades.

The announcement amounts to a huge policy change by the Bush administration which is likely to signal to other nuclear powers that India's situation and position is unique.

It is both a moral and a substantive victory for India which has argued for years against the discriminatory nature of the nuclear world order and insisted on maintaining its nuclear weapons status.

The unprecedented agreement came after President George W Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met at the White House on Monday.

'Exceeded expectations'

The two leaders carried forward their determination to be global partners in a wide and varied agenda that stretches from fighting terrorism and proliferation on the one hand and promoting democracy and peace on the other.


India's Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran described the outcome as one that "exceeded expectations".

What we have done is to develop a broad, global partnership of the like that we've not seen with India since its founding in 1947
Nicholas Burns, US undersecretary of state
The agreement would allow nuclear fuel for India's Tarapur reactor. The US helped build the reactor but later reneged on contractual obligations to supply fuel for it because India refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Officials said that President Bush's personal commitment and intervention was crucial in pushing the US bureaucracy to set aside their entrenched positions and look at India with new eyes because of the changing global environment.

Apart from the nuclear bargain, India and the US unleashed a series of new initiatives which showcase the broad nature of the new relationship.

As undersecretary of state Nicholas Burns said: "What we've done is to develop with the Indian government a broad, global partnership of the likes that we've not seen with India since India's founding in 1947.

"This has consequences for American interests in South Asia, but also has larger consequences for what we are trying to do globally, in terms of promoting democracy, fighting terrorism, fighting HIV/Aids - and all of those issues were discussed by the two leaders."

New love

The official enthusiasm is matched by the show the Americans put on for their new love - India.

A grand welcome ceremony at the White House with full honours, a banquet - only the fifth in as many years of the Bush presidency - and complete and total attention to showcasing the new relationship.

India's ambassador to the US, Ranendra Sen, a great champion of better relations, has worked behind the scene to bring new ideas and initiatives to the table as has the US ambassador to India, David Mulford.

A new forum of chief executive officers was announced where 10 top brains from both India and the US will sit together and think of ways to energise the economic relationship.

At least 10 new initiatives were launched, ranging from ways to spread education in rural India to improving agriculture through linking research organisations of the two countries.

But the nuclear deal was the highlight of the visit.

The deal recognises India's unique position as a nuclear state with rights and benefits which is outside the club of the five permanent nuclear powers.

It is expected to lead to changes in the global nuclear order and accommodation of India.

Nuclear commitment

President Bush agreed to "work to achieve full civil nuclear energy co-operation with India" and work with the US Congress to "adjust US laws and policies" and work with other nuclear powers to change "the international regimes" to allow this new path to be charted.


He made a commitment to invite India to participate in international nuclear research, something that India has demanded for years.

In exchange India will ensure that its military and civilian nuclear programmes are separate, place its civilian reactors under international safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency and continue India's moratorium on nuclear testing

It will also maintain strict controls on all nuclear technology and observe guidelines of the Missile Technology Control Regime and other guidelines observed by nuclear powers.

The agreement shows the seriousness of the Bush Administration's commitment to not just improving but "transforming" relations with India, the emerging global power on the world scene.

Keeping a keen eye on today's geo-politics, the US is strengthening relations with key countries in Asia to counter the rise of China.

While China is never publicly mentioned, it is often the underlying subtext and the reason for the Bush administration.


But it is President Bush himself, and his key advisers such as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who began the second term with a determination to cut through the fog of suspicion, old habits, older policies and defeat the powerful non-proliferation lobby in Washington which has long opposed any accommodation of India in this area.

The nuclear deal was not an easy one to strike and negotiations went on until the very last minute.

But in the end a smiling Mr Singh was able to say at a joint press conference with President Bush that the nuclear issue had been resolved to his "great satisfaction".


Source:BBC News

US Senate launches India caucus


A powerful new group has been launched by United States senators to further strengthen ties with India.

The bipartisan Senate India Caucus has an initial 32 members in the 100-strong upper house, including Hillary Clinton.

The leading aims of the caucus are to promote economic ties and strengthen co-operation on terrorism and nuclear proliferation issues.

It will also cover matters affecting Indian Americans, a population thought to number around two million.

'Birthday gift'

The group will be co-chaired by Mrs Clinton, a Democrat, and Republican Senator John Cornyn.

Mr Cornyn said: "The United States and India share a commitment to freedom, representative government, free market principles and the war against terror.

This is the most wonderful day in India-US relations
AK Mago, Dallas businessman

"Important differences do remain concerning India's nuclear weapons programmes, the pace of economic reform and trade."

India's ambassador in the US, Lalit Mansingh, who was 63 on Thursday and retires this week, said the caucus was "the best birthday gift I have ever been given in my life".

Mrs Clinton said at the launch in Washington that India and the US should jointly spearhead a global anti-nuclear proliferation campaign.

"The nuclear issue is an issue for all of humanity and the US and India, as democracies, have to lead us into a new century of co-operation in order to prevent proliferation."

The White House welcomed the launch of the caucus.

Press Secretary Scott McLellan said President George W Bush "appreciates efforts that move in the direction of strengthening our relations even more".

Senator Cornyn said more members of the house were expected to join the caucus soon.

There has been an Indian caucus in the House of Representatives since 1998.

It began with nine members and has grown to 185.