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October 16, 2007
US India Nuke Deal Near Collapse
Thanks to a motely collection of opponents including communists and Hindu Nationalists, the much heralded nuclear cooperation deal with India appears to be stalled and chances for its revival appear slim.
The main obstacle does not involve the specific terms of the agreement but rather India's internal politics, including fears from leftist parties that India is moving too close to the United States, according to officials and experts familiar with the deal. Some American observers believe that Singh could still win the day if he called for elections and ran on ratifying the pact. But Singh has made it clear that he values his colaition more than the nuclear agreement and has quietly shelved the deal for the time being.
Besieged over the past two months by growing opposition to nuclear energy cooperation with the United States, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh indicated over the weekend that he would rather save his coalition government than the nuclear pact.
"What we have done with the U.S., it is an honorable deal, it is good for India, and it is good for the world," Singh said Saturday. "But we are in the realm of politics, and within our coalition, there are differing perceptions."...
The agreement lays out a framework for peaceful nuclear cooperation that would eventually allow trade in nuclear reactors, technology and fuel between the two nations. It permits India to reprocess nuclear fuel and opens the way for the United States to become a "reliable" supplier for India's energy program.
Time is of some importance to the agreement. India must begin negotiating with international bodies such as the IAEA by early next year so that President Bush can bring the treaty before the Senate. It won't have a an easy time there either as several Senators have expressed concern about proliferation issues relating to India's bomb program.