Under Thursday's deal, India retained the right to deny United Nations inspectors access to a "fast-breeder" reactor suitable for producing weapons-grade fissile material. Since India refused to agree to a cap, there is no limit on the expansion of its nuclear arsenal — a fact that critics say could provoke a regional arms race.In a nutshell, the idea is that stepping up cooperation with India (where no US president set foot from 1978 to 2000) can help to counter China's growing power:
Despite widespread criticism that the pact sets back global nuclear nonproliferation efforts, Bush administration officials praise the deal for its promise of better ties with a thriving democracy and reduced competition for world oil.Of course, Pakistan is eyeing US-India relations and seeing what they will get out of it.
But administration officials also know well that an India that is more prosperous, and well armed, represents a hedge against Chinese military ambitions. With China's intentions unclear, such a counter is an important component of U.S. strategy.
A key factor behind the nuclear cooperation agreement reached this week between the United States and India was a simple trade-off: The White House was willing to risk losing ground in the worldwide campaign to limit the spread of nuclear weapons for a deal with India that could help it counter the rising power of China.
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