US won’t offer India-type nuclear deal to Pakistan or anyone else

By Arun Kumar, IANS

Washington : The United States said Friday it would not offer Pakistan or any other country a deal similar to its civil nuclear agreement with India.

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While Pakistan was the most indispensable country in the world in the fight against terror, it has a past with A.Q. Khan's nuclear black market. "India is different," said Washington's chief interlocutor on the deal, Nicholas Burns.

The 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, which has to support nuclear trade with India for the deal to come through, "has a very high bar", said Burns, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, briefing reporters on the deal.

NSG has to be assured that "India is unique in its history of civil nuclear programme", he said and US and India will now work together towards that end with some European countries taking the lead.

Asked if the nuclear deal would not lead to a new arms race between South Asia's nuclear neighbours, Burns said: "We don't expect it to happen. We don't hope it happens."

For decades, the United States had tried to balance its relations with the two countries, but now in Washington's worldview India and Pakistan had been de-hyphenated. The US wanted a strong relationship with both countries, but of different types.

He disagreed with a reporter that India had what he called "burgeoning military relationship with Iran", said Burns. It was the US with whom India is building a closer military relationship.

At the same time, it was Washington's suggestion to India as it was to Japan and its European allies, that they should have diminishing relationship with Iran consistent with UN resolutions imposing sanctions on Tehran.

On the 123 agreement, Burns asserted it was fully consistent with the Hyde Act passed by the US Congress last December approving the nuclear deal in principle. He was fully confident that the Congress would again give it thumbs up and the deal would be done by the end of this year.