Feature

India

Shelving a nuclear deal with the U.S.

How humiliating, said New
Delhi’s Times of India in an editorial.
India’s landmark nuclear deal
with the United States has been
put on hold because of opposition
from our overly influential
Communist parties. The deal,
struck in 2006 between the Bush
administration and Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh, is “transparently
in India’s interest.” It would
give us the right to import nuclear
fuel and technology, privileges
we have been denied for 30 years
because we tested nuclear weapons
and refused to sign the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty. In
return, this country would merely
have to allow international inspections
of our civilian nuclear power
plants. But before the deal can be
implemented, it must be approved
by India’s parliament—and that’s
where the leftists hold the cards.
The Communists threatened to
pull out of Singh’s governing coalition
if he forced a vote on the
nuclear deal, so he backed down.
The sudden turnaround is “a blow
to India’s global aspirations and a
diminution of its international stature.”

Everyone knows the nuclear deal would
be great for India, said Vir Sanghvi in the
New Delhi Hindustan Times. Even the
Communists must know that. But they
simply can’t bring themselves to endorse
any new policy that brings India closer to
the United States. “The Communist parties
have never forgiven the U.S. for winning
the Cold War” and depriving them of their
Soviet backing. And let’s not forget that
the various Communist factions all have
close ties with China, which has its own
reasons for wanting to curb U.S. influence
in Asia.

Actually, China is the reason the
deal will ultimately go through,
said Harsh V. Pant in the New
Delhi Outlook India. Military
analysts say India and the U.S.
both know they need to cooperate
to counter an increasingly
powerful and belligerent China.
The civilian nuclear power deal,
which implicitly accepts that India
is a nuclear weapons state, is
the logical place to start. Indian
Communists needn’t worry.
“There is little incentive for the
U.S. to try to cap the Indian
nuclear arsenal and circumscribe
Indian technology development,
as some in India have alleged.”
Instead, it is in the American
interest to help develop democratic
India as a counterweight to
authoritarian China. And since
the deal is in both American and
Indian interests, it will eventually
happen—regardless of what the
Communists say.

Still, for now, the Communists
have won a key victory, said
Karnataka’s Deccan Herald.
Prime Minister Singh could have avoided
his public embarrassment if he had been
a bit more careful to gauge the mood in
his coalition before scheduling a vote on
the nuclear deal. As it is, the leftists will
only be “more assertive and aggressive” in
their anti-U.S. policies, now that they have
forced the government “to blink.”

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