A piece by Chidanand Rajghatta, Foreign Editor, Times of India, based in Washington, which has quoted me.
Obama picks are cool to US-India nuclear deal
3 Jun 2009, 0030 hrs IST,
Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN
WASHINGTON: The Obama administration on Monday named hardline non-proliferation warrior Robert Einhorn as the US State Department's special advisor for non-proliferation and arms control amid disquiet in business circles on whether the choice, along with other picks for key posts, will push the US-India civilian nuclear deal into cold storage.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced her choice of Einhorn, a former Assistant Secretary of State for non-proliferation during the Administration of her husband Bill Clinton, as her advisor, saying he and his staff will "provide advice...on non-proliferation and arms controls issues, and will help develop and implement Administration policies and diplomatic strategies in those areas."
Einhorn, known as an unrelenting non-proliferation and arms control hawk, worked in the State Department for 29 years before retirement, and was a trenchant critic of the US-India nuclear deal. Jocularly called the "grand ayatollah" of non-proliferation, he argued that the Bush administration gave away the house to India in order to build a strategic relationship with India at the risk of undermining non-proliferation regimes.
"In seeking to make India an exception to longstanding non-proliferation rules, the Bush administration has given India virtually all that it wanted and has run major risks with the future of the non-proliferation regime," he told the senate foreign relations committee in one of the several hearings on the subject.
The choice of Einhorn as Clinton's advisor, coming after the naming of former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher as the administration's Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security and Timothy Roemer as US envoy to New Delhi, has cast a shadow on burgeoning US-India ties, specifically the US-India nuclear deal.
All three are considered hard-line non-proliferationists in the old Democratic mold, and business groups both in US and India are uneasy that they would put a spanner in the works of nuclear energy collaboration that some estimates put at over $150 billion over the next three decades.
An American commercial nuclear mission with 60 executives from 30 companies visited India earlier this year amid apprehension that US firms are behind the curve in capitalizing on the nuclear deal because of bureaucratic hitches in Washington and New Delhi, even as other countries are racing ahead. France and Kazakhstan are among countries that have sped forward with civilian nuclear collaboration with India.
Those hurdles might get even harder if past record is anything to go by. Former Indian officials hold Einhorn principally responsible for putting India in the nuclear doghouse for decades along with many proliferating nations despite its spotless record of on-proliferation. Ironically, they say, some of the most egregious acts of proliferation, including Chinese supply of nuclear technology and material to Pakistan, and A.Q.Khan network's proliferation to North Korea, Iran, Libya, and al-Qaida, among others, took place on Einhorn's watch.
However, a current official described Einhorn as a "pragmatist" with whom they have developed a working relationship. Speaking on background, the official suggested it was a "different era" in US-India ties and there were foreign policy interests that had to be taken into consideration by non-proliferationists. Another former official, T.P.Sreenivasan, a visiting fellow at Brookings Institutions, also said Einhorn was someone New Delhi "regularly exchanged ideas with" and saw no difficulty in engaging him. "He understands us," Sreenivasan said.
Some analysts suggest that formation of the Tauscher-Einhorn team is directed more against North Korea, Pakistan and other proliferators, and India has been moved out of the rogue's gallery. Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton voted for the nuclear deal when they were Senators (despite some reservations) and they are unlikely to undermine it, especially as it involves US commercial interests at a time of grave economic crisis.
"There is nothing to be alarmed about. We have got most of what we wanted in terms of global sanctions on nuclear trade having been lifted. Agreements already signed with Kazakhstan, France and Russia for Uranium and reactors. Now the ball is in US court," says Shivanand Kanavi, a business writer from Mumbai who has followed the nuclear deal closely and is writing a book on the Indian nuclear industry.
The Tauscher-Einhorn team is also expected to advance Washington’s multilateral non-proliferation agenda - including the ban in nuclear testing and the capping of fissile material - which have been revived by the Obama administration after the Bush White House had put it in cold storage for eight years. Kanavi does not expect too much pressure on India on this front either, saying "there is a long way to go before consensus is achieved on pacts such as NPT, CTBT, and FMCT, and they are replaced or re-architected."