Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies

Non-proliferation ayatollahs the world over have been up in arms against the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation Agreement. Policy and opinion makers in India readily accept that the Indo-US nuclear deal represents a major concession that has been made by the US and fully understand that it is an issue of concern for the international non-proliferation community. However, they like to emphasize that this privilege has been accorded in recognition of India's responsible and unblemished conduct in limiting horizontal proliferation and that sufficient safeguards have been built in to take care of the non-proliferation concerns that might arise as fallout of the deal.
In this era of strategic uncertainty, it is important to see the Indo-US nuclear deal in the larger geo-strategic framework and US policy and opinion makers are clearly taking their bearings from the emerging world order. Analysts in the US are divided in their perceptions of the deal. Stephen Cohen is of the view that the agreement enhances American strategic interests, and "if properly implemented, it will advance, not retard, American non-proliferation objectives." The initiative will help India move to an energy strategy that makes it less dependent on imported oil and that will positively address American global environmental concerns. Former Defence Secretary William Perry and a former top Pentagon aide, Ashton Carter, also back the agreement but there are detractors of this deal as well. Noam Chomsky believes that "the agreement, if implemented, will be a serious blow to the NPT, and the network of treaties and international regimes in which it is embedded, some of which have already been dismantled by the Bush administration."
The fact that India has agreed to place two-thirds of its nuclear reactors under international safeguards has gone down well with most US lawmakers. Congressman Jim Kolbe said in his testimony to the House International Relations Committee: "If Congress enacts this legislation, India will have tougher nuclear scrutiny than is given to China, Russia and the major nuclear powers. None of these countries' reactors are under any inspection regime. India would place at least two-thirds of its programme under the direct eye of the International Atomic Energy Agency." It is this fact that finally convinced many initially skeptical Senators and Congressmen that the deal would have positive non-proliferation fallout.
Ashley Tellis has written: "Bringing India into the global non-proliferation regime through a lasting international agreement that defines clearly enforceable benefits and obligations not only strengthens American efforts to stem proliferation but also enhances US national security???" Michael A. Levi and Charles D. Ferguson recommend that the US should focus on the right objectives: "Finding a workable path forward requires that Congress reserve the bulk of its political capital for a handful of top-tier objectives. It should focus on preventing Indian nuclear testing and fundamental changes in Indian nuclear strategy, rather than on blocking growth in the number of Indian nuclear weapons. It should focus on obtaining cooperation-from India as well as other countries-in controlling the spread of sensitive nuclear technologies, instead of on measures that would shape the development of nuclear technology in India itself. And it must also be careful not to assume that all its top non-proliferation ends can be met simply by getting the U.S.-India deal right."
Prof. Stephen Cohen doubts whether the deal could have influenced Iran's decision-making on uranium enrichment. "I doubt it, but without better access to the Iranian decision-making system, no one can really draw a conclusive judgement; certainly the Iranians have for some time been using India-derived rhetoric to trash the NPT, but then India wasn't a signatory." In stark contrast with Iran and North Korea, India has agreed to take steps that will bring it into the non-proliferation mainstream, including:
Placing its civilian nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards and monitoring. 
Signing and implementing an Additional Protocol, which allows more extensive inspections by the IAEA. 
Ensuring that its nuclear materials and technologies are secured and prevented from diversion, including its recent passage of a law to create a robust national export control system. 
Refraining from transfers of enrichment and reprocessing technologies to states that do not already possess them and supporting efforts to limit their spread. 
Working to conclude a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. 
Continuing its moratorium on nuclear testing. 
Adhering to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) guidelines. 
Hence, it would be reasonable to conclude that the Indo-US nuclear deal does not in any noteworthy manner undermine the nuclear non-proliferation regime even as it makes a positive contribution to it by bringing the bulk of India's civilian nuclear power reactors under the ambit of IAEA safeguards and inspections.