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Indo-U.S. civil nuclear deal and its impact on India's foreign policy
2008/1/9 11:49:10
Two years after U.S. President W. George Bush and India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set out their "historic initiative", India and the United States have finalized an agreement to implement their civil nuclear deal which no doubt will compound India's problems in formulating and conducting independent foreign policy.

The Indian government described the finalized deal as one of the finest achievements of diplomacy as India's vital concerns such as its right to conduct nuclear tests, to gain uninterrupted fuel supplies and reprocess the spent fuel have been finally settled. However, the agreement, which is seen as "India gains, U.S. doesn't lose," is rejected by the Indian opposition and the Left parties.

India's opposition Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP) said the deal, which shows New Delhi as a "junior partner" of the United States and undermines India's sovereignty and strategic program, is unacceptable.

Meanwhile, the Left parties alleged that the deal was a lot more than only civil nuclear cooperation, saying it "has a serious bearing" on the country, its "larger agenda" was to convert India into a "subordinate ally" of the United States.

The Mainstream Weekly has carried on an article, saying the Left parties believed that deal was designed to give Washington additional leverage over New Delhi on wide strategic and foreign policy issues. "The issues covered under certifications, among others, include convergence of India's foreign policy to that of the United States, India joining U.S. effort in isolating and applying sanctions against Iran...," the article said.

Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury condemned the Indian government of succumbing to U.S. pressure on foreign policy. India's non-participation at the scheduled meeting with Iran on the gas pipeline project, the State Bank of India's decision not to issue Letters of Credit for Iranian firms this year were all indicative of this.

For those concerns, Left parties declared they were unable to accept the agreement and asked the government not to operationalize it. They even threatened to withdraw their support and break relation from the ruling United Progress Alliance, which will result in the breakup of the government.

Under pressures from both the Left parties and opposition, the Indian government decided to slow down the carrying forward of the agreement and try to seek a political consensus.

In November, after six-round of talks with the Left parties, the government started negotiations on the India-specific safeguards with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but it promised not to make the nuclear deal operational unless the Left parties gave its final go ahead. This in effect means that the Left still holds the veto power, which official sources say would more or less kill the civil nuclear deal.

Under the agreement, there are three steps for India to put the deal into practice. Firstly, India should conclude a safeguards pact with IAEA. Secondly the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) will hold a special meeting to change its guidelines for New Delhi. And thirdly, the agreement will be sent to the U.S. Congress for an approval.

It seems that the Indian government's willingness to push the operationalizing of the deal will be bothered by the opposite in the country for a period of time because the "internal politics" over the issue could bring a bleak prospect for implementing of the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal in the near future.

Source: Xinhua
 

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