India Bags Nuclear Deal

Posted by Reading Time: 2 minutes


Sept. 8 – The deal is done. And it’s a big deal for India. It has gained the unique status of being the only nuclear weapons country to be included in global nuclear commerce without signing either the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty—until now a precondition for entering mainstream nuclear trade.

The bitter sweet deal also signaled an ironical twist of fate in India's nuclear history. The Times of India reported that when the NSG “adjusted its guidelines’’ for India after 76 hours of high-voltage drama to waive the precondition and open the door for New Delhi to join the nuclear high table, a delicious piece of irony was enacted—the NSG was formed 34 years ago as a response to India’s 1974 Pokharan test and it was bending its rules to mainstream India’s nuclear ambition.

The NSG’s approval was also Manmohan Singh’s moment. The PM, who had quietly worked out the structure of the deal with US President George Bush, clinched a piece of history for salvaging a deal after staving off a threat to his government and his political career.

Singh described the NSG waiver as a “forward looking and momentous decision’’. Bush praised Singh for his “strong leadership’’ in ensuring success at Vienna.

The deal will not just give India access to nuclear fissile material and technology with which it can mount a credible nuclear energy programme, it will also open up certain key technologies for India—hi-tech that is used by a number of industries like pharma, IT, space and defence, but is also used in nuclear military technology and is barred for those outside the nuclear club.

The implications of the deal will be beyond energy and technology. In strategic terms, it now brings India much closer to the US and a number of European countries. At the same time, it might bring a certain frostiness in India’s ties with China—Beijing’s sudden objections in Vienna to the waiver indicated this—even though it formally welcomed New Delhi to the nuclear club after NSG’s nod.