India may tilt towards Russia again
- From: PakistanPal <pakistanpal@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2008 23:30:00 -0700 (PDT)
"The three contenders to replace Bush - Democrats Hillary Rodham
Clinton and Barack Obama and Republican John McCain - endorsed
legislation in late 2006 that would reverse three decades of American
anti-proliferation policy by allowing U.S. shipments of civilian
nuclear fuel to India." So writes Foster Klug from Washington in an AP
The new nuclear energy pact would give India access to US nuclear
technology, allowing for safeguards and inspections at its 14 civilian
nuclear installations, but with the eight remaining military plants
inaccessible to inspectors.
"The pact faces fierce opposition in India, where communists within
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's coalition continue to bar it. The next
U.S. president could revive Bush's coveted deal if it should fail this
year, but it is not clear that any of the candidates would consider it
a priority" writes Kruger.
He then quotes Ashley J. Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace having said "It's entirely possible,
for someone who doesn't like the agreement, to simply say, if they
were to come into office: `Thank you very much; this is the policy of
the last administration; I don't want to have any part of it.'"
So what is to become of President Bush's efforts to win India over?
Nothing but good, argue critics as "the deal would ruin global efforts
to stop the spread of atomic weapons and boost India's nuclear
But State Department officials continue to consider the Bush
initiative as a strategic necessity regardless of it having become
Tom Casey, for one, holds the view "Regardless of whether this
arrangement is passed in the next year or not, one thing that I don't
think will change is the continuing strengthening and deepening of the
U.S.-Indian relationship that has begun under this administration and
we certainly hope will continue into the future" Kruger quotes his
Others disagree. Jon Wolfsthal, an analyst at the Center for Strategic
and International Studies think tank and an adviser to the Clinton
campaign, is reported to believe that "if India should fail to act
this year", neither McCain, nor Clinton, nor Obama would look to
pushing the deal through.
Ashley J. Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, would agree. "It's entirely possible, for someone
who doesn't like the agreement, to simply say, if they were to come
into office: `Thank you very much; this is the policy of the last
administration; I don't want to have any part of it'" he is reported
to have said.
But India is prepared, should the nuclear energy deal with the US fall
through. In mid-February this year it was reported to have reached an
understanding with Russia to build 4 nuclear reactors additional to
the 2 already be being constructed by the Russians. This was
announced by the Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh during the
visit of the Russian premier, Victor Zubkov, to New Delhi at the time.
Add to this the award of a $965 million contract for the upgrade of
the MiG 29 warplanes a month earlier, after the dispute over India's
purchase of the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov had been
resolved, and a true picture of the long-standing ties between the two
post-Cold War allies emerges.
Russia is also in the race for India's purchase of $12 billion worth
of jet fighters, 2 billion worth of artillery, and $1 billion worth of
helicopters against Western rivals. It is advantaged for having
supplied 70 percent of India's military hardware purchases in the past
and this may see India tilt towards Russia again.
Even if not, there is little chance of India discarding its Russian
connection, not least because of its additional energy needs are
marked to be sourced from the Central Asian Republics which at present
subscribe to the rules laid down by the Russia-China parented Shangahi
Cooperation Organisation (SCO) -- and this is where the Indian tilt
towards Russia may become telling
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