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N-deal will have positive outcome for India: US expert
Suman Guha Mozumder in New York | October 26, 2007 11:39 IST
A senior Brookings expert says that irrespective of whether the Indo-US nuclear deal survives or not, there will be some positive outcome of the deal for India, particularly in terms of putting the proliferation issue on the backburner between Washington and New Delhi.
Bruce Riedel, a longtime Central Intelligence Agency official who served as a senior adviser to three US presidents on Middle East and South Asian issues said in an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations that one of the virtues of the deal was that it was an acknowledgment by the US that India is not going to roll back and cease being a nuclear-weapon state.
"In that sense President Bush did the right thing: He came to grips with reality and decided to move on. We certainly should encourage India to join the international nonproliferation regime. Signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and ratifying it through the Indian Parliament would be a very good first step," he said.
"Of course, a very good first step would be for the US Senate to ratify that same treaty," Riedel said.
But he said the deal and the politics surrounding it have made it clear that the United States is not going to be pushing for rollback, or return to pre-1998 standards. India, he said, is a nuclear-weapon state, and the wise policy is to accept that and to move on.
"The deal and the politics surrounding it have at least moved us in that direction, and that's a positive development. Whether the deal goes into place in 2007 or 2008 is now very much up in doubt, but the overall impact of putting the proliferation issue between the United States and India into its proper place will in the long run be a positive move," Riedel said.
In response to a question from CFR whether the deal is dead, he said he did not think so. "I don't think it's dead, but it's going into hibernation, or into long-term diplomatic cold storage. It will be difficult -- not impossible, but difficult -- for the Indian government to push this forward. It would take a decision to risk the unity of the coalition and, particularly, to alienate the Communist parties," he said.
He said that the Communist parties in India, like in China, welcome foreign investment and want to work with the private sector; but they also have a strong aversion to seeing India move into a very close strategic partnership with the United States.
"The aversion to a close relationship with the United States, much more than the details of the nuclear agreement, is what's pushing the Communists to take a tough line here," he said.
Asked by the CFR interviewer if the Communists would have supported a similar arrangement if India had signed such an agreement with Russia [Images], Riedel said he was not sure.
"Probably. Again, I don't think that it's the details of the agreement, so much as the specter of India moving into an alignment with the United States. In this sense they really are on the wrong side of history," he said.
"The United States and India have improved their relationship with each other vastly over the course of the last decade, and that trend is going to continue. I believe we will see this as a hiccup on the road toward a stronger US-India partnership," he said.