India’s Nuclear Deal Nears Completion

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July 8 – Having garnered strength from his fragmented coalition government, India's confident prime minister, Manmohan Singh, is ready to meet President Bush on Wednesday morning, the stage is now set for India to sign the nuclear deal with America.

While admitting that the nuclear deal would be signed "soon," the prime ministers's spokesperson, Sanjaya Baru, said that the text of an agreement was near completion, and that India could swiftly finish it and go on to secure approval from the 45 member nations of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Only after those two steps have been completed can the U.S. Congress vote on the final agreement.

While the nuclear agreement would allow India access to nuclear fuel and technology on the world market, it would also mean that India would fortify strategic ties with the United States therefore be beholden to America. Many experts believe that America still wants to keep its control over the region, and is pushing for the nuclear deal even as China is trying to express its clout in Asia.

The New York Times reported that a Congressional delegation went to New Delhi last week to urge India to hurry it along, so that Congress could vote on the deal in early September.

Saving the deal required a political gamble. Late last week, Mr. Singh’s administration secured the support of an old rival, a north Indian faction called the Samajwadi Party, and in so doing, seems to have preserved its majority in Parliament and deferred early elections, which it can hardly afford at a time of rising food and fuel prices and growing public disaffection.

“He said the government is not afraid to face the Parliament, we have the numbers,” Mr. Baru quoted the prime minister as saying, adding that Mr. Singh continued to hope that the communists would “see reason” and lend their support to the deal.

That is unlikely. The communist parties are expected to withdraw their backing of the government in the coming days.