Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 06/2009

Origins of the United States-India Nuclear Agreement

Itty Abraham

May 2007

East-West Center


Relations between the world’s largest democracy, India, and the oldest, the United States, have never been better. The preeminent sign of this improved state of relations is, of course, the recent concord between the governments of both countries that proposes bilateral cooperation on a variety of fronts, from space to agriculture, but especially in relation to civilian nuclear cooperation. Bilateral agreements signed in July 2005 in Washington, D.C., and following President Bush’s visit to India in March 2006,1 were hailed as historic, seemingly marking the end of “estrangement,” to borrow Ambassador Dennis Kux’s characterization of relations between the two countries. But for all its claims to be “historic,” the agreements were not greeted equally, or with equal acclaim, in both capitals.