Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is desperately trying to salvage a
nuclear deal with the United States that would give his country access to
nuclear fuel and technology for its power plants, despite its refusal to sign
the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Mr. Singh says although there is some
political opposition in India to the deal, he hopes to take a positive message
to President Bush when he meets him next week at the G8 summit in Japan. VOA's
Ravi Khanna has more.
On Monday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
issued a public plea to his leftist allies in parliament to let the deal move
ahead. He wants to finalize an agreement with the International Atomic Energy
Agency before he goes to the G8 summit next week.
That agreement would
mandate international inspections of India's civilian nuclear facilities.
After that, he says he will present the deal to Parliament, before it
goes to the U. S. Congress for final approval.
"We have to go to the
IAEA to get an India-specific (nuclear) safeguards agreement. Then we have to go
to the Nuclear Suppliers Group to relax their present restrictive attitudes
toward trade with India in nuclear materials," PM Singh said.
communist lawmakers like Prakash Karat oppose the deal.
"The bilateral agreement negotiated with the United States administration
will bind India into a strategic alliance with the US with long term
consequences," Karat said.
The communists say if the deal goes ahead,
they would not support the ruling coalition in a no-confidence vote.
Reports from New Delhi say Mr. Singh is trying to win the support
instead of opposition parties.
South Asia expert Walter Andersen, at
the Johns Hopkins University, says he understands Mr. Singh's urgency.
"Something literally has to be done in the next week or two for the
present U.S. Congress to take it up before the next Congress sits on January the
20th. And the next Congress may be less friendly (toward the deal) than the
present one," Andersen said.
He says if opponents in India continue to
delay, time could run out and there will be no deal at all. He says the chances
of a new U.S. administration approving the deal are slim.
"Would a new
administration of Barrack Obama or John Mccain be as enthusiastic? Neither one
has shown the same kind of interest that George Bush has shown," Andersen said.
"And in fact Obama has shown more interest in nuclear non-proliferation
In Washington, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman,
Joseph Biden said Monday, if India gets IAEA approval, he will work hard to get
the deal approved.
South Asia specialist at the Woodrow Wilson Center,
Dennis Kux, says India's failure to clinch the deal could raise questions about
its future as a great power.
"This was something the government of India
negotiated, the government of India got what it wanted and then it does not
appear to have the fortitude to push it through. That does not put India in the
best light," Kux said.
Kux says considering India's growing economy, the
country needs power, and the deal will provide India not only with power, but