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Landmark Nuclear Agreement Between India, U.S. in Danger of Collapse

Opposition from lawmakers in both the United States and India threatens to derail the finalization of a historic nuclear cooperation agreement between the two countries. Analysts discuss the issues stalling the pact and the possible implications if the deal collapses.

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    It was billed as one of President Bush's biggest foreign policy achievements, opening a new strategic relationship between the U.S. and India. Announced during President Bush's visit to India in March 2006, the agreement established a program of cooperation on civilian nuclear programs, even though India has never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has tested nuclear weapons.

    GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: We concluded an historic agreement today on nuclear power. It's not an easy job for the prime minister to achieve this agreement. I understand. It's not easy for the American president to achieve this agreement, but it's a necessary agreement. It's one that will help both our peoples.

    What this agreement says is things change, times change, that leadership can make a difference.


    Under the deal, the U.S. agreed to trade nuclear reactors, technology and fuel to help meet India's growing energy needs. In Washington, the nuclear pact ran into bipartisan opposition. Democratic Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts said it set a dangerous precedent.

    REP. ED MARKEY (D), Massachusetts: This deal is a disaster for the nuclear non-proliferation regime on the planet. It blows a hole through any attempts in the future that we could make to convince the Pakistanis, or the Iranians, or the North Koreans, or for that matter any other country in the world that might be interested in obtaining nuclear weapons that there is a level playing field, that there is a real set of safeguards.


    But the agreement was narrowly approved by Congress and signed into law by President Bush last December.


    By helping India expand its use of safe nuclear energy, this bill lays the foundation for a new strategic partnership between our two nations that will help ease India's demands for fossil fuels and ease pressure on global markets.


    The deal has touched off even stronger opposition in India's parliament among members of the Communist and Nationalist Parties. Yesterday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told President Bush, according to a news release on the Indian embassy's Web site, that certain difficulties had stalled the pact.

    Today, State Department spokesman Tom Casey said the U.S. wasn't giving up hope on the bilateral agreement.

  • TOM CASEY, State Department Spokesman:

    I think it is really something that we are going to continue to work on and going to do so regardless of the time table that gets followed for the implementation of this particular agreement.