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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

U.S. is One of the 'Central Pillars' of Indian Foreign Policy

Council on Foreign Relations

Interviewee: Bruce O. Riedel, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution
Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor

April 29, 2008

Bruce Riedel, a South Asia expert who has served in the Central Intelligence Agency and in the Clinton White House, sees the improvement in U.S.-India relations as a major accomplishment of the Bush administration, which carried forward progress made during President Bill Clinton’s tenure. Riedel says the U.S.-India nuclear agreement, which has been held up by opposition in India’s parliament, is likely to be approved next year, and that both major Indian political parties now see the United States as one of “the central pillars of India’s foreign policy.”

In looking at President Bush’s foreign policies, people have criticized him for not building on the past. On the question of dealing with India, President Bush’s administration seems to have built on [President Bill] Clinton’s work in getting a relationship going with the Indians. Would you agree with that?

Very much so. When it came in, the Bush team recognized that India was going to be one of the key powers of the twenty-first century, an emerging potential power, certainly a regional power, but perhaps a global power as well. I worked for President Clinton and for President Bush in his transition. His team very much understood that they wanted to build on what the Clinton people had done and to take it further. The Bush people have taken it further with the India-U.S. civilian nuclear deal, which offers the opportunity to remove one of the main stumbling blocks to U.S.-Indian rapprochement—the nuclear nonproliferation issue.

That agreement caused a certain amount of controversy in the United States when it was signed in 2007, but eventually it got general approval in Congress. Why is India delaying approving it?

The delay in India is entirely due to politics in the governing coalition.

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Copyright 2008 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.

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