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N-deal with US 'very favourable to India': US daily

world Updated: Jul 29, 2007 21:47 IST
Arun Kumar
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The India-US civil nuclear deal appears to be "very favourable to India", the Washington Post commented Sunday, asking New Delhi to show that it too looks at the new strategic partnership as a two-way street.

The few details of the agreement to implement the deal released Friday "suggest that it is very favourable to India indeed, while skating close to the edge of US law", the newspaper said describing the deal as a good "bet on India".

<b1>"In large part, modern US nuclear non-proliferation policy began with India," it said recalling in an editorial how India, which had refused to sign the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), lost the US fuel supply because it exploded a nuclear "device" in 1974.

"Decades of US non-cooperation with India's civilian atomic energy programme were intended to teach India, and the world, a lesson: You will not prosper if you go nuclear outside the system of international safeguards," it said noting, "Friday marked another step toward the end of that policy - also with India."

The fine print of the agreement has not yet been released, but the big picture is clear, the Post said. "The administration is betting that the benefits to the United States and the world of a 'strategic partnership' with India outweigh the risks of a giant exception to the old rules of the non-proliferation game.

"There are good reasons to make the bet. India is a booming democracy of more than 1 billion people, clearly destined to play a growing role on the world stage. It can help the United States as a trading partner and as a strategic counterweight to China and Islamic extremists," it said.

"If India uses more nuclear energy, it will emit less greenhouse gas. Perhaps most important, India has developed its own nuclear arsenal without selling materials or know-how to other potentially dangerous states. This is more than can be said for Pakistan, home of the notorious AQ Khan nuclear network," the

Post

noted.

"You can call this a double standard, as some of the agreement's critics do: one set of rules for countries we like, another for those we don't. Or you can call it realism: The agreement provides for more international supervision of India's nuclear fuel cycle than there would be without it," it said.

"The case for admitting India to the nuclear club is based on the plausible notion that the political character of a nuclear-armed state can be as important, or more important, than its signature on the NPT.

"North Korea, a Stalinist dictatorship, went nuclear while a member of the NPT; the Islamic Republic of Iran appears headed down the same road," the Post recalled.

"Yet India's democratic system and its manifest interest in joining the global free-market economy suggest that it will behave responsibly. Or so it must be hoped."

The agreement appeared "very favourable to India indeed, while skating close to the edge of US law," the Post said citing the US commitment to help "India accumulate a nuclear fuel stockpile, thus insulating New Delhi against the threat, provided for by US law, of a supply cutoff in the unlikely event that India resumes weapons testing".

"Congress is also asking appropriate questions about India's military-to-military contacts with Iran and about New Delhi's stubborn habit of attending meetings of 'non-aligned' countries at which Cuba, Venezuela and others bash the United States," it noted.

"As Congress considers this deal, India might well focus on what it can do to show that it, too, thinks of the new strategic partnership with Washington as a two-way street," the Post concluded.