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Asia

Fate of Indo-US Nuclear Deal

The vote of confidence in India was crucial for the fate of the nuclear deal with the US. The left parties, which pulled out of the government, argued the deal would undermine India’s sovereignty.

U.S. President George W. Bush with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after they reached an agreement on a landmark nuclear deal in 2006

U.S. President George W. Bush with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after they reached an agreement on a landmark nuclear deal in 2006

The nuclear deal between India and the United States, also known as the 123 agreement, was drafted in 2005. It covers co-operation between both states in regard to the peaceful use of nuclear technology and access to nuclear fuel on the world market.

Christian Wagner, an analyst at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin, believes the deal serves India's growing demand for energy: “The deal aims at solving India's energy problems. Nuclear energy in India currently only provides about two per cent of overall energy production. But India has -- like China -- an enormous demand for energy and will increase its oil imports in the next year. So co-operation with the United States is an important step especially for the modernization of India's economy.”

Acceptance as nuclear power

India's nuclear deal with the United States would end a strict nuclear embargo by industrialized countries which came into place after India tested nuclear weapons in 1974. India, which also never signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, would thus be accepted as a nuclear power.

To achieve this India’s government would agree to open its civilian nuclear facilities to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency -- or IAEA -- while its nuclear weapons program would be exempted.

Compromises sovereignty?

India's left-wing parties -- until now supporting the minority government -- are against the nuclear deal as they believe it threatens India's independent foreign policy and would make India a strategic ally of American Imperialism in South Asia. Sonia Gandhi, President of the Congress Party, strongly condemns these allegations: “There is no question of compromising on our security interests, on our nuclear program, and our independence in foreign policy.”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is determined to strike the nuclear deal and discussed it again with US-President George W. Bush at the recent G-8 Summit in Japan. The former communist allies -- after learning about the talks through the media -- were left with no other choice but to withdraw their support of Singh’s minority government.

However, Singh survived a confidence vote in parliament on Tuesday and can now pursue the nuclear treaty further.

China’s role

But the treaty has other opponents as well. While the current president of the United States, George W. Bush, is a strong proponent it remains unclear if the next US government will sign the treaty. The US Congress still has to vote on the agreement, and the IAEA has to approve the plan, too. Then each of the 45 member states of the Nuclear Suppliers Group has to endorse it as well. There, China is one of the strongest opponents and is watching the activities of its nuclear armed neighbour with suspicion.

But India's Prime Minister Singh is convinced that China will agree: “Fortunately we have the support of the world's major powers, the United States, Russia, France, and Britain. I have a strong feeling that when the matter comes before the relevant international fora, China will not be a problem.”

After surviving Tuesday's confidence vote in India's parliament, Manmohan Singh could be right once again.

  • Date 22.07.2008
  • Author Tobias Grote-Beverborg 22/07/08
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  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/LrxC
  • Date 22.07.2008
  • Author Tobias Grote-Beverborg 22/07/08
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/LrxC