A major dilemma for the nuclear non-proliferation regime is to engage the nuclear-armed states that are not in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea, more effectively in the broader nuclear non-proliferation regime without weakening or discrediting the NPT. The Indo– US Civilian Nuclear Agreement claims to bring India, as a ‘responsible’ nuclear state, closer to the nuclear non-proliferation regime (Tellis 2006; Burns 2007). It was criticized by the non-proliferation community, concerned that global non-proliferation norms would be undermined by treating India ‘exceptionally’ (Einhorn 2005; Gallucci 2006; Kimball 2006). The United States sought an India-specific exemption from the non-proliferation rules and discouraged others from seeking such exemptions to limit the damage to the regime. This chapter employs a realist constructivist approach to understand how the US– India nuclear agreement has affected the key norms of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime by deviating from the established expectations of the regime.
The NPT is a nearly universal (except for four countries) treaty and the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation regime. The NPT is a bargain between NWSs (Nuclear Weapons States) and NNWSs (non-Nuclear Weapons States) in which NWSs agreed to share nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and gradually disarm, through negotiations in good faith, their nuclear arsenals while NNWSs agreed not to develop nuclear weapons and to accept International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards on their peaceful nuclear activities. The non-NPT states cannot be coerced to join the NPT as NNWSs nor is it possible to admit them as NWSs due to the complexity involved in amending the treaty. The indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995 solidified this gap. After the India– US nuclear deal, India is getting the benefits of nuclear energy cooperation along with its nuclear weapons programme, creating a tension within the regime.
On 18 July 2005, US President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a joint statement announced a framework for nuclear cooperation between the two countries, which brought an end to more than three decades of sanctions against India following its 1974 nuclear test. The United States had to change its domestic law to facilitate this nuclear cooperation.