India, like Pakistan, Israel and North Korea, is a nuclear maverick. These countries all have the Bomb but do not adhere to the full range of international protocols to prevent the spread of such weapons. New Delhi built its first bomb in 1974 by misusing Canadian civilian nuclear technology. It exploded others in 1998 (as did Pakistan).
Six months ago there was a slim chance that public pressure on Harper government not to approve the US-India nuclear deal either at the IAEA or NSG level might have had a slim chance of getting somewhere. Harper was initially cool to the idea. There might even have been some chance of dividing the government, maybe even brining it down if anyone could be found who was interested in that. Obama told the Indian news magazine Outlook, "I voted for the US-India nuclear agreement because India is a strong democracy and a natural strategic partner for the US in the 21st century." From here it looks like the deal is done except for the posturing and hand-wringing. But then a month ago, it seemed to be dead in the water. -jlt
U.S. President George Bush may be in a hurry to sign a controversial pact to sell India nuclear technology and fuel before he leaves office early next year. And the U.S. has lobbied for the support of Canada, Australia and other allies. But there is no guarantee the deal will get approved by India's parliament in a scheduled July 22 vote, much less by the U.S. Congress during Bush's tenure.
If Democrat Barack Obama or Republican John McCain inherit the file, he will face pressure from arms control advocates to insist that India accept strict conditions on the deal.
Given this uncertainty, Prime Minister Stephen Harper would be wise to move cautiously before giving Canada's assent to the deal.
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