India Intelligence Report

   India-US to Meet on Nuke Deal; US No to Pak


Even as Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and US Under-Secretary of Political Affairs Nicholas Burns plan to meet to try iron out last minute hurdles in the Indo-US Civilian Nuclear deal, the US firmly spurned Pakistan's request for a similar deal.

The latest hurdle in the diligently negotiated deal has to do with nuclear testing. US law makers want a codified language that would spell out India's commitment on moratorium on nuclear testing while India feels that such codification is excessive. While the US Administration has accepted India's position in general, American intelligence lapses in spotting Indian tests of 1974 and 1998 are raising fears that it may be caught wrong-footed again.

The communist-supported minority Indian Government barely made the deal acceptable in India and changes will seriously endanger the hard-fought agreement. Burns himself said at a Carnegie Endowment meeting "there is a reference to India's moratorium on nuclear testing" in the "joint statement issued by both governments." Hence, it looks like domestic politics is choking the deal and officials are looking for a way out to appease domestic actors while not endangering the deal. 

In the meanwhile, Burns severely rebuked disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan for the sale of sensitive nuclear technology to the so-called "axis of evil" nations. Asserting a previously espoused policy to de-hyphenate relations with India and Pakistan, Burns said, "both Pakistan and India have different histories, the civil nuclear deal with India is unique." In order not to de-motivate Pakistan, Burns insisted, ‚ÄúPakistan is the most important partner in the fight for security and against terrorism" and complimented Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf for supporting US operations against the al Qaeda and Taliban. 

Referring to the positive discrimination in favor of India, Burns said "We are trying to break through 30 years of orthodox thinking that will allow US companies to invest in India's nuclear industry to overcome chronic energy shortages. For 30 years we felt the best way was to sanction India, but we had to face the question: Is it better to isolate India, or should we think of a change in American policy that would be more pragmatic and meet India half way."

However, there is great unease in Pakistan that the US is increasingly favoring India over its own interest and there is a clamor to get back the equity and "balance" in relationship. The lack of such positive attention from the US is creating fears in Pakistan that it being left behind. Pakistan has now invented a new concern that highlights India's close relationship with Iran and Burns rebuked that suggestion. He said "If people are bothered about double standards, we treat law abiding friends differently from law breakers." This statement was testimony to the severe rupture in trust quotient with Pakistan following Khan's nuclear mart revelation (which is becoming increasingly clear) that could not have happened without official support. It is also clear that this wound will take a long time to heal.