Thursday, January 24, 2008

Indo-US Nuclear Deal—Ripples So Far

As expected and calculated, the Indo-US Nuclear Deal, till date, has its multi-dimensional ramifications. The Indian foreign policy has come under heavy shadow of the deal. The Indian government has been careful enough not to displease Washington in its conduct of international relations. As a result the Deal has some visible and invisible consequences for the foreign, defence and trade policies. Let us examine some of the consequences of the deal:

  • After swinging between the two options—India-Russia-China axis and India-US-Israel alliance, India chose the latter. After careful considerations the Indian strategic and political experts decided that it was essential for India to engage with the sole superpower to attain global status, bypass nuclear apartheid and get superior high-tech items. India did not sacrifice its relationship with Russia but certainly come into the US bandwagon.
  • Though encouraged at the prospect of nuclear commerce, Russia became alarmed and suspicious about Indian motivations. Alarmed with India’s deeper military relationship with the US, Russia had been earlier warning either to sign Intellectual Property Rights agreement or to sacrifice the friendship. Now it has become concerened about India’s developing cold feet about the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and India-Russia-China triangle. It began to rethink whether sophisticated military items like aircraft carrier, nuclear submarine should be given to India or not. The end result was the wrangling over the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov deal and the delay in leasing the nuclear submarine.
  • Pakistan and China became worried. China calculated the deal could alter the strategic landscape of the world and India would become the sole nuclear country which would be recognised as a nuclear power without signing the CTBT or NPT. India would become a global power too. Besides, later the USA openly declared its desire to make India a global player. Pakistan felt betrayed. It wanted a similar deal, but the big brother now refused. The AQ Khan episode is still fresh in the American psyche. Relationship between Pakistan and America deteriorated.
  • India was forced to vote twice against Iran on the nuclear issue. The India-Iran relationship reached all-time low. The future of the proposed India-Pakistan-Iran pipeline became uncertain. On the contrary, the China-Iran relationship began to flourish anew. China began supplying new weaqpon systems with a view to Iran-US conflict. Russia, too, was worried over India’s vote against Iran.
  • The world began to wonder whether India’s order for 126 multi-role fighters would be bagged by the USA. Many wondered whether this was a corollary to the nuke deal.
  • The Japanese Prime Minister succeeded into bringing India under a quadrilateral grouping of Asia-Pacific democracies, comprising India, Japan, Australia and the USA. Russia and China were alarmed at their joint naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal. China termed the constellation the “Asian Nato”.
  • The USA began to pressurise India to sign the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and Logistics Supply Agreement. The Indian government faced stiff opposition from the Left parties in these regards.
  • The USA, while condemning the North Korean missile tests supported the test firing of Agni III which is being developed as China specific 3000 km range missile. This indicated the USA would support India’s China specific offensive capabilities.
  • Canada, Australia and Japan softened their stance towards India as a nuclear power state.
  • Incensed at the Indo-US Nuke Deal, China declared its intention to sign similar deal with Pakistan. The USA warned that this must have the IAEA approval.
  • During his Russia visit, the Indian Prime Minister refrained from signing an agreement with Russia for the purchase of four nuclear reactors. This was interpreted by some experts as the result of US pressure.
  • India, for the first time was invited in the Israel-Palestine summit in Annapolis in the USA.
  • The deal seems to have indicated communalisation of Indian foreign policy. India’s vote against Iran and proximity towards the US is being interpreted as India’s support towards an anti-Islamic state by some political parties and experts.

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