India, US still trying their N-best
THE US says "90 per cent" of the negotiations for the nuclear deal with India have been completed. But the remaining 10 per cent may be enough to prevent the sealing of the deal during US President George W. Bush's visit to India next week.india Updated: Feb 24, 2006 01:50 IST
They are racing against a deadline: Bush’s arrival
THE US says "90 per cent" of the negotiations for the nuclear deal with India have been completed. But the remaining 10 per cent may be enough to prevent the sealing of the deal during US President George W. Bush's visit to India next week.
On Thursday, US Undersecretary of State for political affairs Nicholas Burns said some "differences remained". After talks with Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran, he said, "Both of us want to complete these negotiations but there are still some remaining differences between us and those differences need to be worked out.
We simply don't know whether we will have an agreement before President Bush's visit. We are trying our best, both sides."
Burns and Saran are due to meet again on Friday in a last-ditch attempt to iron out the differences on the bilateral civil nuclear collaboration agreement. But it appears unlikely that a formal separation plan for India's civilian and military nuclear facilities will be in place by March 1, when Bush arrives, sources in the government said.
India does not have a "dedicated military nuclear programme" and differences revolve around the number of reactors that will be placed on the civilian list.
Sources said New Delhi is not willing to place more than 14 of its 22 nuclear reactors (of which four operational reactors and two yet-to-be-commissioned reactors are already under IAEA safeguards) on the civilian list. Also at issue is the fast breeder reactor programme, which Indian scientists insist cannot be placed on the civilian list, despite US demands, because it is "at a prototype stage" and critical for the future of the Indian nuclear programme.
Under the July 18 agreement, India would have to separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities, placing the former under international safeguards, while the US would make a 'one-time waiver' for India, and urge the Nuclear Suppliers Group to begin nuclear commerce with India.