US President George Bush called Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to wish him for the season and to also allay fears in India over the civilian cooperation bill and both leaders concluded that these concerns can be addressed in the “1-2-3 Agreement.” A note from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said that though most concerns “have already been addressed in the President’s signing statement,” there are still “some concerns” which “will be addressed in the in the next stage of negotiations.”
New Delhi hopes to filter out “extraneous” and “prescriptive” provisions that infringe on its strategic rights in the bilateral 123 agreement and Singh has already said that his government will negotiate hard to ensure that these contentious issues are kept out of the bilateral agreement. However, remnant lawmakers in the US and India, interested in keeping emerging bilateral relations in cold storage, continue to nitpick on statements and make unreasonable demands to aggrandize more advantage to themselves or their nations. However, as pointed out by the PMO note, the important message of the passage of the bill in the US is that it signifies a qualitative jump in bilateral relations through Bush’s “initiative to amend US laws to enable bilateral civil nuclear cooperation, which received strong bipartisan support in the US Congress.”
Indian concerns include fears of curbs on its strategic nuclear program and undermine its foreign policy especially with Iran but also to include emerging relations with Syria, Myanmar, and Venezuela. Soon after signing the bill, Bush watered down these provisions say that the US Constitution is committed to grant the President the “authority to conduct the nation's foreign affairs” and that the executive branch will continue “such policy statements as advisory.” But the bigger message Bush gave was that “The rivalries that once kept our nations apart are no more” and both nations “are united by deeply held values.” He also emphasized that “India is an important ally in the war against extremists and radicals." The nuclear deal has been variously described as the litmus test of emerging bilateral partnership and it is extremely unlikely that New Delhi will reject it and Singh very clearly said that Bush’s statement after signing the law clarified most of the concerns.
Pakistan Ambassador to the United States Mahmud Ali Durrani said that nuclear deal does not “worry” Islamabad but said that the un-inspected Indian reactors can be used to produce weapons-grade material. Even then, Durrani said that his nation was not worried as they “have a strong deterrent” and that Pakistan will also develop economically as India has. The US has resisted Islamabad’s protestations and refused to accommodate a similar deal for Pakistan saying that the two nations are different and their needs are different. The White House had categorically ruled out similar deals for Iran saying that the two nations were not in the same league.
Two further obstacles follows that would enable India to gain access to the benefits of the deal. One, India must reach an agreement with the IAEA on civilian site inspections and two, India needs to gain acceptance from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group.