New Delhi: The United States of America has rejected an Indian demand made just hours before US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice lands in Delhi for a written assurance from President George W Bush to strengthen fuel supplies.
The deal is ready to be inked between Rice and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee but the signing may not happen on Saturday because Bush has not yet signed the nuclear bill into law.
The nuclear deal was approved by the US House of Representatives and the Senate earlier this week.
With months to go for both governments in New Delhi and Washington, the successful completion of the deal will be cause for a big celebration.
Just two days earlier the nuclear deal was given an approval by the US Senate and a host of officials who worked on the deal were celebrating.
"Let's stop for a moment and celebrate before we start discussing the bits and pieces of it. Essentially what this legislation does is, it lets us go forward and let us ratify the deal and finish it up. It gives us the approval of our Congress. Let's just put the deal into effect," Boucher said on Thursday.
But now there is a last minute dampener in the celebrations. Rice and Mukherjee will meet but may not ink the agreement and the reason is that the 123 Agreement is not ready.
The deal if signed will allow US companies to enter into contract for nuclear reactors, equipment and high technology, denied to India for 34 years.
But even as the two leaders toast each other, they may not be able to put all Indian concerns under the red carpet.
Some of the concerns that India has are as follows:
- What kinds of sanctions would follow if its conducts a nuclear test?
- Whether the US will guarantee fuel supply to India?
- And what else the US will want? Will India now be under pressure to buy other equipment like fighter jets from the US.
Both New Delhi and Washington deny all the criticism of teh deal saying its only the 123 Agreement that binds them.
"India has the right to test, others have the right to react," said Mukherjee.
While US Ambassador to India David Mulford said, "The 123 Agreement faithfully abides by the outlines of the visionary statements made by President Bush and Prime Minister Singh."
Now it may be upto Bush, for whom the deal constitutes a rare foreign policy success, to put all those concerns at rest when he finally puts his signature to the deal.
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