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N-deal fiasco will hit ties with US: India

"There will be some sense of lowered expectations which will have an impact on Indo-US relations," Saran said.

india Updated: Apr 09, 2006 11:32 IST

India warned on Saturday that relations between New Delhi and Washington would suffer if the US Congress decided to scupper a crucial nuclear deal between the two powers.

"Given the kind of expectations that have been built up, there will be some disappointed expectations," foreign secretary Shyam Saran told a private news channel.

"There will be some sense of lowered expectations which will have an impact on Indo-US relations," said Saran.

The deal was signed last month during a visit to India by US President George W Bush, but needs the approval of the Congress and the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Under the deal, energy-starved India would gain access to long-denied civilian technology to help fuel its fast-expanding economy in return for placing a majority of its nuclear reactors under international inspection.

The pact would end three decades of isolation under which India was refused help for its civilian energy programme after it first tested a nuclear weapon and refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

On Friday, Saran held talks with US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher, who was in New Delhi as part of his trip to the region.

Boucher said he was confident the US Congress would approve the agreement but it could take a year to implement.

The US envoy also said in New Delhi that the Bush administration had "pushed for India to define its minimum credible (nuclear) deterrent".

Reacting to Boucher's stamement, an Indian foreign ministry statement Saturday said "credible minimum deterrent is a self-explanatory term that requires no further elucidation".

India and the United States were on opposite sides of the fence during the Cold War but ties have warmed sharply since.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned members of Congress against modifying the agreement, lest the new partnership be jeopardised.

US opponents say the deal abandons long-standing non-proliferation rules, complicates efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons, such as in Iran and North Korea, and could spur India to expand its nuclear weapons arsenal.

First Published: Apr 08, 2006 17:40 IST