The Bush administration has got a "fairly positive" response from its allies overseas and Congressional leaders on a new agreement to help India's civilian nuclear programme, a senior official has said.
"I don't expect a lot of opposition in Europe," US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns said.
He said European leaders had been told in recent weeks that a deal might be in the works.
However, as the status on the agreement was not clear till the last minute, there was no time to brief foreign and
Congressional officials in advance, he told The New York Times.
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Burns said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also spoke yesterday to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and
his reaction was "constructive" and "not overly problematic."
The paper quoted a spokesman at the Pakistani embassy as saying there had been no reaction in Islamabad to the deal
announced Monday, between President George W Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Burns, who has been a point man in the India negotiations, said Rice and Stephen J Hadley, the National Security Adviser, had hammered out final details of the pact.
He said exempting India from the nonproliferation norms should not create problems for the administration's other efforts to try to get Iran and North Korea to adhere to Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations. Both countries, he said,
had signed the treaty, but then cheated.
"Everybody knows, when you stop to think about it, that India is unique," Burns said. "India has also told the truth about what it's doing and is now willing to subject itself to intrusive inspections. Iran and N Korea signed the NPT and then did not abide by the rules. India wants to abide by the rules," he said.
An unidentified European diplomat said though the deal was a "step in the right direction" for India, because it would agree to safeguards for its civilian nuclear programme, it posed the risk of weakening the Nuclear Nonproliferation
Treaty "if it is poorly implemented."
"India has to implement what it committed itself to, and perhaps go even further," the diplomat was quoted as saying in the paper.
The deal between India and the United States, the paper said, drew criticism from nuclear experts at research
institutions specializing in efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and from a former top Bush administration
official involved in the issue.
'It's disappointing that we've given something to India and not gotten something substantial in return,' said John S Wolf, a former assistant secretary of state for non-proliferation affairs. "This agreement is difficult to reconcile with the
international norms advanced by the United States for the last 40 years.'
Wolf, who is now president of the Eisenhower Fellowship programme, in Philadelphia, told the Times that experts on the issue at the State Department in the last term had resisted efforts to make a deal with India along the lines
of the one announced Monday.
Among those experts, Wolf said, were John R Bolton, the former under secretary of state for international security
and arms control, who has been nominated by President Bush to serve as ambassador to the United Nations. Bolton's office did not respond to a request for him to comment.
Various administration officials were quoted as saying that a core of officials had wanted to help India from the start of Bush's time in office in 2001. Among the advocates of concessions to India, those officials said, were Defense
Secretary Donald H Rumsfeld and Robert Blackwill, a former ambassador to India who served on the National Security Council staff.
Blackwill, in the current issue of The National Interest, a public policy magazine, says he frequently battled with the State Department on nuclear issues, describing opponents of giving India wider latitude in the nuclear area as "nagging nannies" whose policies he refused to put into effect.
Wolf said despite his own misgivings, he expected that the United States' allies in Europe, as well as Russia and China, would probably support the India deal because they would jump at the chance to sell nuclear components to India.
The accord, the Times said, would bring about a major change in the international accords governing nuclear technology, essentially exempting India from longstanding requirements that only countries willing to forswear nuclear weapons may purchase or obtain civilian nuclear technology, equipment and fuel from the world's major nuclear energy suppliers.
India has never signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty and never accepted ispections of its nuclear facilities. Now it is
to accept inspections of its civilian but not its military nuclear facilities, the paper noted.
Under the agreement to be put into effect, Congress would have to change a 1978 law barring American nuclear
energy aid to nuclear weapons states, as well an accord of a coalition of nations known as the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which has long agreed to similar restrictions.