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AUGUST 2013 ISSUE

Guest Column - Force Magazine
Going Great Guns
Indo-US ties have seen dramatic change in the last decade, leading to greater trust between the two
 
Kanwal SibalBy Kanwal Sibal
In the last decade the biggest change in the complexion of our foreign relations has been with the US. The general attitude in India has become markedly positive towards the US. In return, bi-partisan support now exists in the US for enhanced ties with India, expressed at times with much rhetoric.

The US-India relationship is described as a defining one for the 21st century, with the US ready to bolster India’s rise as a global power in its own strategic interest. On the Indian side, the vocabulary tends to be more restrained because an offshoot of improved relations and expanded dialogue with the US is that the government is accused by opposition forces of aligning itself too much with US interests.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with President Barack Obama Consequently, the government would not like to expose itself to such criticism by being too effusive about the US relationship. After the famous “the people of India love you” statement that Prime Minister made to former president George Bush to express his appreciation for the nuclear deal, the vocabulary is reticent but the weight given to the US relationship in our decision-making is considerable.

The biggest achievement in bilateral ties has been, of course, the Indo-US nuclear deal. While criticism of some of its provisions is legitimate and the energy hype associated with it is misleading, the reality is that with the 123 agreement and the US led Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) waiver for India that allows international co-operation in our civil nuclear programme, our nuclear capability and related non-proliferation issues no longer poison the bilateral relationship, besides eliminating a contentious issue in India’s foreign relations with the international community, which is a solid gain.

India has been able to sign civilian co-operation agreements with several other countries, including Canada, with progress in negotiations with Australia and hopeful prospects of an agreement with Japan. India has been able to secure raw uranium for its reactors, overcoming an immediate problem that the Indian nuclear sector faced. As a result of the Indo-US nuclear deal, sanctions on almost all Indian entities have been lifted and high technology export controls for India have been eased to a degree. The US has committed itself to promoting India’s membership of the four technology denial regimes, namely, the NSG, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Wassenaar Agreement and the Australia Group, which when it happens will integrate India into the global non-proliferation regimes as a non-NPT member.
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