Washington, Sept 5 : A United States based analyst has said that it would be a shame if the India-US civil nuclear deal slips through after coming so close in hand.
Deepa Ollapally, Associate Director of Sigur Centre for Asian Studies, Georgetown University, Elliot School said it would be very difficult to re-engineer something like this in future, if the deal does not come through now.
"It's a historic deal and I think it is so close in hand that it would be a shame if its slip through somehow. It would be very difficult to re-engineer something like this in the future. It takes an enormous amount of time and effort and diplomatic effort on both sides and I would be surprised to see them launch some sort of major initiative like this in the near term. So I think they are going to do everything they can to save it and also when it goes to the NSG, there is yet another place that it has to go (to) the US Congress and time is very short, the agenda for Congress is packed because of the US Presidential elections... so that have to get all this work done before that. That's why they're trying to get this as quickly as possible. So I think they are bringing all diplomatic hands on deck," said Ollapally.
India-US civil nuclear deal has been in the line of fire in India for various reasons from various quarters.
Washington has lobbied with the countries in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for an exemption to its rules to allow nuclear trade with India, which has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has tested nuclear bombs and refused to rule out doing so again.
The fate of the historic deal lies at present in the hands of NSG, a group of 45 countries, which will decide on the future of the deal by consensus.
Without NSG's approval in early September, the U.S. Congress may run out of time for final ratification of the accord before it adjourns at the end of the month for the Presidential elections.
In a sign of growing urgency for Washington to salvage a Bush administration's major initiative, its No. three diplomat, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns is heading the U.S. delegation to the NSG gathering in Vienna.
Ollapally is of the view that if the nuke deal does not come through despite Washington trying hard to clinch it might prove a set back to the US India relations.
"I think it would be a set back in some sense for US-India relations, part of the reason that they have put a lot of stock in this (on) both sides. On the other hand the fact that it has come this far and if it doesn't go through in the NSG it wouldn't entirely be the US or India's fault in some sense. Although one can say perhaps they didn't read the cards right. They should have put more effort into building a consensus for this and I don't think that the relationship will suffer badly because I think it's on an already on a very good trajectory. This would have given a huge boost to relations...I'm still fairly hopeful that it would go through and optimistic on it," said Ollapally.
Citing commercial interest as one of the reasons behind US pushing hard for the deal, Deepa said, "I think there are two main reasons, an immediate commercial interest. India currently has only about 22 nuclear reactors for energy purposes out of a 400 total in the world. India is really going to ramp up the amount of energy production via nuclear reactors once this goes through. There is a lot of money, up to 100 billion US dollars, that's a lot of money and clearly a piece of that would be gotten after by the US government."
"So I think that there is an immediate commercial interest but beyond that there is a broader interest to get India into the nuclear table as a nuclear power that is not hemmed in by the embargoes. To free India from that and to forge a strategic relationship with India and so that India can play a bigger role in International security once this embargo and these sanctions are lifted. The fact that India would get an India specific waiver is a big deal in International politics," added Deepa.
Skeptics note India has signed no treaties meant to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, phase out stockpiles and ban testing.
They say the point of seeking conditions for a waiver is to ensure Indian access to nuclear material and technology markets does not indirectly boost its atomic weapons programme.
Conditions aired include a trade halt if India tests a bomb again, no transfers of fuel-enrichment technology that could be replicated for bomb making and periodic review of the waiver.
Calls for waiver terms have been made by six smaller NSG states and enjoy some support from 15 more. India has ruled out conditions it says would infringe on its nuclear sovereignty.
Big nuclear export powers have generally backed the potentially lucrative opening to India. But some diplomats said hitherto non-committal China appeared to be coming off the fence on the side of the deal's critics, rattling New Delhi.