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Indo-US nuclear deal risks collapse: report

A media report says Indian demands undermine the US rationale for seeking the deal.

world Updated: Apr 13, 2007 15:48 IST

The landmark Indo-US nuclear deal risks collapse as Indian demands, including the right to continue testing nuclear weapons, undermine the US rationale for seeking the deal, a media report on Friday said.

India is making demands that would increase "not lessen" its military nuclear capabilities and at the same time it has developed closer ties with Iran, the report quoted senior administration officials and nuclear experts as saying.

"The Indians are being greedy," Henry Sokolski, head of the Non-proliferation Policy Education Center said according to the report in USA Today.

He has said the agreement might not be implemented before the Bush Administration leaves office.

Senior State department official Nicholas Burns, the Undersecretary of State, who was in charge of the tough negotiations, has acknowledged that three rounds of talks with India have produced little.

"I don't question India's goodwill," Burns said. "But there is a fair degree of frustration in Washington that the Indian government has not engaged seriously enough or quickly enough with both the United States and the IAEA," he told the paper.

There is no deadline for completion of the deal, but two unnamed senior Bush Administration officials said India's demands could torpedo an agreement.

According to the report, the officials have said that India wants "Permission to buy uranium-enrichment and plutonium-reprocessing technology from the United States-- both have military applications and sales are prohibited in most cases by US law.

New Delhi has also sought no limits on testing nuclear weapons.

The administration has reportedly told India that the United States reserves the right to terminate nuclear cooperation if India tests again.

Robert Einhorn, a proliferation expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington and a former senior State Department official in the Clinton administration has said that Department of Atomic Energy of India "may want the deal to fall through" to shield itself from competition from foreign contractors with nuclear engineering expertise, such as General Electric and Westinghouse.

Einhorn has said another possibility is that "the Indian strategy is to hold out and hope the administration will cave in" to avoid the collapse of what it regards as a foreign policy triumph.

Also the point is being made that India's relationship with Iran raise questions about whether it will safeguard the nuclear technology it would get under the deal.

It is being pointed out that only last month that two persons were arrested in the USA on charges they bought computer chips used for missile guidance and illegally exported them to Indian government companies.

The report also said that several senators led by Jon Kyl, Republican from Arizona, are writing to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to urge him to suspend cooperation with Iran.

First Published: Apr 13, 2007 15:42 IST