India to counterbalance China
India is being groomed as a counterbalance to China. Good move -- also an important nuclear ally in the event that Pakistan falls into unfriendly hands.
US plans to broaden India's access to nuclear technology, announced this week during an enthusiastic visit to Washington by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, have their roots in designs from the earliest days of the Bush administration to build India's stature as a counterbalance to a rising and problematic China.
The proposed extension of nuclear access to what the White House likes to call "the world's largest democracy" raises questions about potential impact on other countries with nuclear ambitions and designs for international status. That is especially true as the announcement comes just days before the European Union is to return to negotiations with Iran to end its nuclear-weapons programs and six-party talks are to take up again in Beijing on North Korea's nuclear program.
But perhaps the greatest significance of the plan is what it says about 21st- century geopolitics and in particular about a Bush administration vision for dealing with China, some analysts say.
"The crux of this announcement is what it tells us about the US grand strategy, and that behind whatever else is going on here the US is preparing for a grand conflict with China and constructing an anti-China coalition," says Joseph Cirincione, head of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "In that scenario, India is even more valuable as a nuclear power, rather than as a nonnuclear country."
The White House plan, which would allow India broader access to international technology for its nuclear power industry in exchange for India granting some access to international inspections, still faces high hurdles: Opposition is expected to be strong both in the US Congress and among other nuclear powers who along with the US would have some say.
In the view of some specialists, the plan would certainly erode and perhaps mean the scrapping of decades of international nonproliferation effort in favor of an ad hoc, case-by-case approach that rewards certain countries while punishing others. "This is a plan that chooses good guys and bad guys, and says that what matters is power politics and not nonproliferation. . .