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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Requiem for the India-US nuclear deal?

Just days after the United Progressive Alliance launched what looked like a determined last-ditch effort to ram through the United States-India nuclear deal, the agreement seems ready to go into cold storage, if not oblivion.

It’s almost certain to miss the US political timetable, which requires that the deal be sent to the Senate by May for ratification. After that, it would be near-impossible to pass it before the presidential election. This is a major victory for India’s Left parties and the peace movement. It’s a morale-booster for all those who questioned any special collaborative arrangement with the US. And it’s a slap in the face of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. This is likely to alter Congress party power equations.

Irrespective of what happens in the UPA-Left joint committee, the deal cannot be resuscitated without a showdown with the Left. Withdrawal of the Left’s support will reduce the UPA to a minority. As Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee explicitly told Outlook, “a minority government cannot, need not, and should not, sign a major agreement.”

For the UPA, the government’s survival takes priority over the deal. Apart from this rationale, there are powerful arguments against the deal. It militates against peace and nuclear disarmament. It will further distort the skewed global nuclear order and encourage other countries to cross the nuclear threshold.

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(Source: Khaleej Times)

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