India's failure to implement the civil nuclear deal with the US can lead to questions over its trustworthiness and may impact upon New Delhi's quest for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has suggested.
<b1>"It (failure of the deal) would certainly, in an intangible way, affect calculations because when an American leader goes down a certain road, he stakes his prestige on the ability to get it executed. So in that sense, it would undoubtedly be a setback," he told a TV channel.
"Definitely, people would make that argument," Kissinger said, when asked whether questions could be raised in the US regarding India's reliability if the nuclear deal fails to get through.
He said there would "undoubtedly be disappointment and also there would be a question as to what extent one can calculate Indian reaction to the negotiations on other subjects," he said.
Insisting that India should ratify the deal for "its own reasons", he admitted that the failure of the deal "would certainly be a disappointment" for the Bush administration which "has put a lot of effort behind it."
Kissinger said other countries, from whom India has been seeking support for the deal, could also wonder "what is going on and what that reflects. Does it reflect an immediate Indian internal problem or does it reflect the fundamental choice which makes it difficult to cooperate with India on these issues."
<b2>Asked whether the failure of the deal could have an impact on India's ambition for a permanent seat at UN Security Council, Kissinger said: "I would anyway be in favour of India joining as a permanent member of UNSC because of the magnitude of the country. But it would certainly be one argument opponents might use to what is in any event, a complicated issue because of issues of veto and expansion."
Stating that the deal would be an "important landmark" if it were to happen, he said: "It would signify that India has emerged from its isolation for 30 years and that in a major field (nuclear) of activity, it is now re-entering the international community in a cooperative manner."
Kissinger, who was US Secretary of State from 1973 to 1977 under President Richard Nixon, insisted that politically, "the cooperation between India and US would facilitate matters in a degree" no other such relationship could.
"The basic attitude in America is that US and India have parallel goals in many areas..Therefore, it would be unnatural to keep India under a sanctions regime. That's why this effort (deal) was made to enable India to enter this (nuclear) field in a way bigger than before," he said.
Responding to a question on the timeline for the nuclear deal to get a final approval from the US Congress, Kissinger warned: "Anything which is not ratified by next July is unlikely to be dealt with before 2009.
"It is because a new administration has to reorganise itself. There are 3,000 jobs that have to be filled... So in any event, even if the Republicans come, there would be a delay of at least a year and a half," he said. Kissinger admitted that the deal could face problems if there was to be a democrat President in 2009.
Kissinger said: "It is broadly true that the anti-proliferation group is stronger in the Democrat than it is in Republican party. So a Democrat President would have to deal with that group and that would be another delay."
Rejecting the argument that signing the deal would amount to India "embracing" the US, he said: "I think countries should not do things for sentimental reasons but for their own national interest," adding that the deal be judged "on its merit."
To a question on whether the US would seek 'political quid pro quos' from India on issues like Iran in the strategic relationship, he said: "America certainly would try to get India's support on the issues that concern it."
However, if US were to "try to blackmail India by withholding technical cooperation, that would be very foolish. We should try to get India's cooperation on Iran in similar manners, but only on its merits and not by blackmailing," he said.
The former Secretary of State also suggested that New Delhi should not be overly concerned about the fears that it may have to agree with US on every foreign policy issue in a strategic partnership, saying: "You have certainly demonstrated over the decades that you are not embarrassed to disagree when you do."