‘N-deal collapse won’t impact on India-US military ties’

February 16th, 2008 - 6:37 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Feb 16 (IANS) If the India-US civilian nuclear deal collapses, it will not impact on the growing military ties between the two countries, a top official in the administration of former US president Bill Clinton says. “In fact, I see the military ties growing,” former defence secretary William S. Cohen said at a press conference here Saturday on the sidelines of the DEFEXPO-2008 international defence exposition here.

Cohen is here as member of a US-India Business Council (USIBC) delegation that is visiting the exposition.

“We are seeing more training and joint exercises. Our armed forces are able to communicate with each other and that is a good thing because it means our military ties have a dynamics of their own,” said Cohen, who runs a Washington-based think tank on strategic and tactical affairs.

“The promise of deeper US-India defence cooperation is now a reality, with collaborations and joint ventures between US and Indian firms already underway,” he added.

“Having said that, I must also say that the longer the nuclear deal takes, the more difficult it will become (to operationalise it),” he added.

“Whoever the new president is and regardless of the party he or she belongs to, will have new priorities and will first have to put in place a new administration,” Cohen explained.

“Thus, we are looking at two to three years before the deal is looked at again. In that period, the opposition to the deal will resurface.”

“Then we have the problem of Iran. We have the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) saying it is committed to nuclear power. From there to weapons is the next stage. That raises the danger of these weapons being acquired by the wrong groups,” Cohen maintained.

“So, on the one hand, we have to deal with this threatened proliferation of nuclear weapons and on the other we are working hard to open the nuclear door for India,” he said.

“It’s all a question of timing. The opportunity is now there. It’s for the Indian government to take a decision on what it thinks is best,” Cohen added.

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