US signs nuclear pact with India

From China’s The Standard, March 3:

US President George W Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday sealed what they hailed as an “historic” nuclear deal, seen as the bedrock of a new strategic partnership.

Capping eight months of intensive negotiations, the agreement aims to lift three-decade-old restrictions on sharing civilian nuclear technology with India since its testing of atomic weapons in 1974.

“This historic accomplishment will permit our countries to move forward towards our common objective of full civil nuclear energy cooperation between India and the United States and between India and the international community as a whole,” Bush and Singh said in a joint statement after talks in New Delhi.

They also agreed to launch joint initiatives to step up investments and trade, beef up defense ties, improve energy security and cooperation in space travel, agriculture and health.

The nuclear agreement is “necessary” and “one that will help both our peoples,” Bush declared, while Singh said “we have made history today.”

The deal, the highlight of Bush’s three-day trip to India, commits Washington to seek approval from the US Congress and 45 countries of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to share their civilian nuclear technology with the Asian giant.

“Now it is for the US to go to Congress for the necessary amendments and it will approach the Nuclear Suppliers Group,” said Singh who had agreed on the broad outlines of the deal during a visit to Washington last July.

Nicholas Burns, US Undersecretary of State, said a “substantial majority” of India’s civilian reactors would come under international scrutiny for the first time in more than three decades.

A US official said 14 of 22 reactors would be placed under safeguards. “We started with four reactors,” he said, “so this is a big advancement.”

As Burns told it: “India for the very first time has agreed to international safeguards. They have given a commitment that all breeder and power reactors will be put under safeguards and this is very critical.”

In response, Pakistan said it expected Washington to give it the same kind of civilian atomic cooperation as it had extended to nuclear rival India.

This deal has been in the offing for some time, and, as we have noted, is viewed by India’s ruling elites as signaling a strategic realignment on the subcontinent, with the US tilting away from its longtime ally Pakistan and towards Delhi, out of a mutual interest in confronting Islamic terrorism. But Pakistan is teetering on the brink of revolution, and the US tilt to India could help push it over the edge. If bellicose Islamic extremists take power in nuclear-armed Pakistan, the results could be too horrible to think about. So if millions are incinerated in a nuclear holocaust in the months to come, remember: YOU READ IT HERE FIRST!

See our last posts on India and the ongoing Indo-Pakistani crisis.