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The Big Deal About the Indo-U.S. Nuclear Deal

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November 2008
The Big Deal About the Indo-U.S. Nuclear Deal

After India tested its first nuclear device in 1974, a ban was imposed on Indo-U.S. nuclear trade. It didn’t stop India from conducting tests again in 1998. Last month, when President Bush signed a historic legislation, prohibition on nuclear trade was finally lifted. Earlier, the bill won approval in the House of Representatives (298 were for, 117 against) and the Senate (86 were for, 13 against). In India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his government had to overcome intense opposition and survive a vote of confidence over this deal.

In a nutshell, India can now buy nuclear reactors, technology and fuel from the States. India, in turn, has agreed to abstain from further testing of nuclear weapons. Though Indian civilian nuclear power plants will be open to international inspections, the military ones will remain off limits. Already, six of India’s 22 civilian nuclear reactors are subject to oversight. India is one of only three declared nuclear powers—the other two being Israel and Pakistan—that haven’t accepted the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). So, unsurprisingly, there has been a range of reactions to this Indo-U.S. agreement.

Here are just a few quotes:

“The most significant factor of the new U.S.-India relationship is that it is not based on relations between the two governments, but rather between their two societies and their economies. Indian Americans are among the most successful of the recent immigrant groups to the United States.”

                                                 - Stephen P. Cohen (Brookings Institution)

“It’s not just about nuclear technology but the transfer of high technology to India. With business, the major beneficiaries will be the United States, France and Russia, in that order. In security and geopolitical terms, it dehyphenates India and Pakistan and rehyphenates India and China in terms of a competitive strategic relationship.”

                                                 - Mohan Malik (Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies)

It’s a “profound setback to the nuclear proliferation and disarmament system that will produce dangerous ripple effects for years to come. By establishing a ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ set of rules, the decision will make it harder to curb the South Asian nuclear and missile arms race.”

                                                                     - Daryl Kimball (Arms Control Association)

“We have many valid grievances against the U.S.—its double standards on the continued use of terrorism by Pakistan against India and its reluctance to support India becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to cite only two examples. While continuing to be articulate on such grievances, we should not let them come in the way of the Indo-U.S. door opening more and more.”

                                                                            - B. Raman (Institute For Topical Studies)


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