Feature

India

Shelving a nuclear deal with the U.S.

How humiliating, said NewDelhi’s Times of India in an editorial.India’s landmark nuclear dealwith the United States has beenput on hold because of oppositionfrom our overly influentialCommunist parties. The deal,struck in 2006 between the Bushadministration and Prime MinisterManmohan Singh, is “transparentlyin India’s interest.” It wouldgive us the right to import nuclearfuel and technology, privilegeswe have been denied for 30 yearsbecause we tested nuclear weaponsand refused to sign the NuclearNon-Proliferation Treaty. Inreturn, this country would merelyhave to allow international inspectionsof our civilian nuclear powerplants. But before the deal can beimplemented, it must be approvedby India’s parliament—and that’swhere the leftists hold the cards.The Communists threatened topull out of Singh’s governing coalitionif he forced a vote on thenuclear deal, so he backed down.The sudden turnaround is “a blowto India’s global aspirations and adiminution of its international stature.”

Everyone knows the nuclear deal wouldbe great for India, said Vir Sanghvi in theNew Delhi Hindustan Times. Even theCommunists must know that. But theysimply can’t bring themselves to endorseany new policy that brings India closer tothe United States. “The Communist partieshave never forgiven the U.S. for winningthe Cold War” and depriving them of theirSoviet backing. And let’s not forget thatthe various Communist factions all haveclose ties with China, which has its ownreasons for wanting to curb U.S. influencein Asia.

Actually, China is the reason thedeal will ultimately go through,said Harsh V. Pant in the NewDelhi Outlook India. Militaryanalysts say India and the U.S.both know they need to cooperateto counter an increasinglypowerful and belligerent China.The civilian nuclear power deal,which implicitly accepts that Indiais a nuclear weapons state, isthe logical place to start. IndianCommunists needn’t worry.“There is little incentive for theU.S. to try to cap the Indiannuclear arsenal and circumscribeIndian technology development,as some in India have alleged.”Instead, it is in the Americaninterest to help develop democraticIndia as a counterweight toauthoritarian China. And sincethe deal is in both American andIndian interests, it will eventuallyhappen—regardless of what theCommunists say.

Still, for now, the Communistshave won a key victory, saidKarnataka’s Deccan Herald.Prime Minister Singh could have avoidedhis public embarrassment if he had beena bit more careful to gauge the mood inhis coalition before scheduling a vote onthe nuclear deal. As it is, the leftists willonly be “more assertive and aggressive” intheir anti-U.S. policies, now that they haveforced the government “to blink.”

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