Friday, August 31, 2007

U.S. Nuclear deal with India may go south

A wave of opposition has left India's government reeling

India's nuclear deal with the U.S. may be going south. Bloomberg wire service reports India's parliamentary government has put the deal "on hold" due to increasing opposition within the ruling coalition. India's External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said a committee was being formed to evaluate the agreement which has become hotly contested in India. Otherwise, members of the coalition, including its leftist members, could withdraw from the government and precipitate an early election.

The creating of a government committee to second guess the original negotiations with the U.S. ends a lengthy period of controversy over the proposed deal. Even if India resolves its internal battles, the deal still faces significant challenges in the U.S. Members of the Senate have complained it gives away too much leeway to India without resolving its status as a state that has not signed the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.

Even then the deal still must face scrutiny from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group that governs global trade in nuclear fuel. Australia, which is a member of the NSG, recently switched its position on selling uranium to India, but the Labor Party in that county has mounted an offensive to undo the commitment.