NUKE REACTORS & JET FIGHTERS

open | 04 February, 2010

The US Administration's "certification" of India's signing of a safeguard agreement with IAEA February 1 does not only mean that that civil nuclear co-operation with India is cleared. It means that the US chances to sell F-18 jet fighters to India increases.

The two are intimately linked which explains why a number of countries were quick to strike a deal with India as soon as former US President George W. Bush set the ball rolling in October 2008.

France and Russia were both quick to capitalize on Bush's initiative and signed nuclear deals with India before the US itself. So did Kazakhstan and Argentina. Deals with Canada and the UK are also about to be signed.
For India its harvesting time. It doesn't need to be proactive in this field.

To let India out in the open, after a 34-year international ban on the sale of nuclear technology, was primarily driven by a changed international security agenda. India is needed to balance China in the region. And the country's economic growth offers desperately needed export opportunities - and with it job creation.

India has one of the largest nuclear energy expansion programs in the world at the moment.

The Indian Government's jet fighter arms tender, worth approx. $ 10 billion, should be seen in much the same light. France and Russia have been able to further their position in the race by making the right official noises and facilitate for their nuke tech companies.

For President Obama to give his clearance of India's signing only two days after suggests that the Administration now feels it must try and regain the initiative.

The US's chances to win the jet-fighter deal, as indeed other contenders such as France, Russia and Sweden, depends on a number of factors. Although nuke facilitation helps a long way - the matter is emotional and is one of the most important indicators for India to measure its international standing - it does not automatically translates into signed and sealed arms deals. India is fully aware of its unique position - it is courted by everyone and has the power to say no if it feels uncomfortable.

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