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4 Oct, 2008 21:36

India-U.S. nuclear deal approved… but not signed

U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has voiced approval for a new nuclear deal with India during a visit to the country. It will reverse a three-decade ban on the U.S. conducting nuclear trade with India. However, the deal has not yet been signed.

Opposition parties in India are unhappy with the nuclear deal and held a protest march as Condoleezza Rice arrived in New Delhi.

There was speculation that the deal would be signed between on Saturday but it didn't happen.

If and when it does, India will become the first country to be allowed to trade in nuclear material and technology for non-defence use.

The process was initiated three years ago and fast tracked in the last six months, getting the approval of the IAEA and U.S. politicians. A bill now sits on the U.S. president's desk waiting to be approved…

There have been reservations from some countries that allowing India to be the exception to the rule could undermine nuclear non-proliferation agreements and limitations have been imposed.

“But the present terms and conditions are unacceptable, it amounts to almost the virtual mortgage of our sovereignty in perpetuity. And if NDA comes back to power we will certainly think of re-negotiating the deal,” said Rajiv Pratap Rudy from the Bharatiya Janata Party.
No one is saying when the deal will be signed, but Rice said not to read anything into the delay.
“Let me be clear, the 123 agreement is done. It's a matter of signing that agreement and so I don't want anyone to think that we have open issues. We, in fact, don't have open issues. These are administrative matters of signing agreements,” she said.
With an agreement virtually in the bag the two sides seemed relaxed.

At the end of this long journey both sides are likely to focus on the next phase. It is estimated that billions of dollars worth of business is likely to be generated through this deal.

At a time when the world markets are down, news of more business is welcome.

Whether or not the nuclear deal will help American stock markets is arguable but it certainly is being hailed as a landmark foreign affairs achievement.