"..We're the leading country that will support the
Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in making an international case that all
nations should engage in nuclear trade with India. That cannot happen
without the US, because that NSG, of which we are a leading member, has
to decide by a consensus.... In your worst-case scenario, if there was
an attempt to say 'well, we're going to forget about the deal with the
US, but go forward', it couldn't happen because the Nuclear Suppliers
Group wouldn't make the decision in that case..."
The remarks made by Mr.Burns may appear to many in the Indian
subcontinient as somewhat patronising -
"if India is to be given this great victory" there has to
be a "courageous decision made by the government to move forward". There
was also what may seem to many as a veiled threat.
have become partners in South Asia. We work very closely with India, for
instance, in trying to encourage a peaceful transition in Nepal. We work
very closely with India on the question of Sri Lanka"
We are reminded of the
comments made in 1997
by Jyotindra Nath
Dixit Indian High
Commissioner in Sri Lanka 1985 /89, Foreign Secretary in 1991/94 and
National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister of India 2004/05 -
"...Tamil militancy received (India's)
support ...as a response to (Sri Lanka's).. concrete and expanded
military and intelligence cooperation with the United States, Israel and
Pakistan. ...The assessment was that these presences would pose a
strategic threat to India and they would encourage fissiparous movements
in the southern states of India. .. a process which could have found
encouragement from Pakistan and the US, given India's experience
regarding their policies in relation to Kashmir and the Punjab.."
Dixit may have added Nepal
as well as another 'pressure point' that the US may use to influence
Indian policy. Here, the remarks made
Col R Hariharan in
International Response to
Sri Lanka war after end of Ceasefire are not without interest -
"..reasons of real politick are likely to discourage collective
responsibility of the kind ... shown in 2002-03 that culminated in the
expatriates, who appear to put too much faith in international action in
Sri Lanka to force the government to give up the military option and
revive the peace process, would do well to remember this. And probably
they will have to persuade India to prevail upon Sri Lanka to effect any
change because it stands outside the internationally networked stand
on this issue."
US House of Representatives allows export of civilian nuclear fuel to
India, 9 December 2006
A visit dubbed as a courtesy call by the French
ambassador to CPI(M) patriarch Jyoti Basu in Kolkata has evoked sharp
reactions from the US, after reports that the France had proposed a
strategic partnership with India on civil nuclear energy besides other
Asking the Indian government to take a "courageous" decision on the civil
nuclear deal considering the "short timelines", the Bush administration has
cautioned it against attempting such an arrangement with 'other nations'
ignoring the US.
The US sounded the alarm bell after the speculation that the French
Ambassador to India Jerome Bonnafont had offered a nuclear deal without any
strings attached, unlike the US Hyde Act.
"We now are in the vanguard. We're the leading country that will support
the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in making an international case that all
nations should engage in nuclear trade with India. That cannot happen
without the US, because that NSG, of which we are a leading member, has to
decide by a consensus," the top US negotiator for the deal Nicholas Burns
said on Friday (February 29).
In a carefully worded statement, Burns said: "The Indian Government is not
suggesting this, but in your worst-case scenario, if there was an attempt to
say 'well, we're going to forget about the deal with the US, but go
forward', it couldn't happen, because the NSG wouldn't make the decision in
that case," Burns, who is the Under Secretary of State for Political
Affairs, said responding to a question.
Amid reports that New Delhi could abandon the US deal to engage in civil
nuclear trade with other nations such as France, Burns maintained it was
"impossible" because what has to happen has to happen in Washington.
"Timeline is short"
Stressing that the timelines were "short" to firm up the deal, Burns said:
"I think the Indian Government is quite sincere in wanting to push this
agreement forward. There's obviously a question of politics within the
Indian Coalition, and we don't want to interfere in internal affairs to the
coalition in India."
"But we do know this, as Senator (Joseph) Biden said last week and I think
as Secretary Gates said when he was in India two days ago: time is very
short," Biden said.
The top US official said: "Senator Biden had explained that for the US
Congress to make a final vote on this issue in 2008, the entire agreement
must land on the doorstep of the Congress by May or June of this year.
"If you back up from there, that means that the IAEA agreement must be made
within a week or two, and it means the NSG would have to begin acting in the
month of March. So there are very short timelines here, and I'm afraid it's
time for the government to decide," he said.
Stating that the deal was "in the interest of both the US and India" and
that it enjoyed "strong support from Russia, from France, and even from the
Chinese Government", Burns said "if India is to be given this great
victory,.. there has to be a courageous decision made by the government to
move forward. We hope that decision will be positive".
A "trusting" relationship
At a briefing at the Washington Press Centre, Burns highlighted the role of
United States in "bringing India out of nuclear isolation".
"India has not been able to trade in civil nuclear fuel or nuclear reactor
technology for well over 35 years because of international sanctions against
India, because of the activities that caused the beginning of the Indian
nuclear programme in the 1970s," Burns said.
"The United States now for the last three years has led the way to say:
'let's bring India out of its nuclear isolation.' We were able to convince
Congress to pass an American law that would allow American companies to
trade with India for the first time since the 1970s," he said.
Burns also lauded the strong bilateral relationship between India and US
saying the "new strategic partnership with the Indian Government and the
Indian people" had the "potential to be one of the most significant advances
for America's foreign policy in this era.
"We have been a very good friend and partner of India all along through
these incredibly intense and complex three years of negotiations, and I've
been in every meeting. So I have a sense of what it was like. What's emerged
from those negotiations is a relationship between New Delhi and
Washington, which is quite close, very trusting," he said.
In his brief opening statement Burns, who will step down as a foreign
service officer by March end but would continue as a special envoy, said
"it's a very important agreement for both of our countries. We've done a lot
of work on it. We've negotiated for three years. Many parts of that
agreement have been now concluded between India and the US.
"I know that the Indian Government is just about to conclude the IAEA
safeguards negotiations with Dr ElBaradei and his team in Vienna. And then
after that, if the Indian Government can proceed -- and that's a question
for the Indian Government -- then we'll take it to the NSG, and I'm
confident that the NSG will ultimately vote to accept India, and then a
final vote in the United States Congress," Burns said.
The US Under Secretary also said that the deal had become "a symbolic
centerpiece of the US-India relationship".
Elaborating on the cooperation in other areas, Burns said: "We have greatly
expanded our relations with India in agriculture, in the sciences, in
education, in civil nuclear power."
Burns said: "We have become partners in South Asia. We work very closely
with India, for instance, in trying to encourage a peaceful transition in
Nepal. We work very closely with India on the question of Sri Lanka"