India and the United States have sealed a landmark civilian nuclear cooperation pact during US president Bush’s first ever visit to the world’s largest democracy. The accord will permit the US to provide expertise and fuel to India’s burgeoning nuclear industry. In return New Delhi will open its activities to international inspectors.
The search for an agreement was the centrepiece of Bush’s visit. “It is not an easy job for the prime minister (Manmohan Singh) to achieve this agreement, it is not easy for the American president to achieve this agreement, but it is a necessary agreement, and one that will help both our peoples,” Bush said before the deal was struck.
Not everyone is in favour of the blossoming US-Indian relationship. Massive protests were held in Delhi as Bush arrived to protest against his policies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bush is on his first tour of South Asia. He will be trying to persuade the Indian and Pakistani leaderships to resolve the Kashmir dispute, as well as discussing the war against terrorism. The pact, provided it is ratified by the US Congress, means an end to India’s nuclear isolation, a result of the country not joining the non-proliferation treaty. But the prospect of New Delhi in effect bypassing the treaty will worry some in Washington.