Will it or won't -- that's the situation New Delhi faces at the moment over clinching the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal.
As hectic parleys proceed between the UPA government, its allies and the BJP-led opposition, US foreign policy expert Dennis Kux says New Delhi cannot blame Washington
if the agreement fails to take off.
"I suspect the damage will be limited if India kills the deal. It is true that India will still have to endure restrictions, but it cannot blame the US anymore since Washington has met New Delhi's demands," Kux said in an exclusive interview to Hindustan Times Next.
India's objective in the negotiations was to get the US lift 'unjust' sanctions and thereby regain access to nuclear technology after 30 years of its 1974 nuclear test at Pokhran, and that too without having to limit India's nuclear weapons programme.
"In the detailed negotiations, my impression is that the US made almost all the concessions. The Bush administration, which has been skeptical of the NPT system, was willing to do this in the interest of firming up the strengthened relationship with India," says Kux, author of the Estranged Democracies on India-US relationships.
India is not a signatory to the NPT (non-proliferation Treaty), which is what made the US government to introduce Hyde Act in the nuclear pact. The Act maintains that India will so forth be banned from conducting nuclear tests, which has sparked opposition from the Communist allies and the BJP quarters.
Kux says that one can put down the BJP's position to oppositional politics, but that of the Left is more serious. "It challenges the fundamentals of current Indian foreign policy."
The price India is paying for the deal is that it has split its civilian and military nuclear programmes and accepted IAEA inspections on the latter.
The UPA government on August 30 constituted a 10-member committee to address the Left's demands and the panel is expected to submit its report by October. The latter had earlier threatened to pull out support for the government, which would have meant the country seeing immediate snap polls.
This situation may recur too. However, Kux "assumes that in the end things will quite down and the deal will be through". He disagrees with critics who argue that killing the agreement may affect India's relations with the US and the world. "I suspect the relationship with US will continue to expand following what I believe is a broad coincidence of national interest. To the outside observer, the fuss in India seems bizarre to put it mildly".