Three years ago, President Bush offered India a far-too-generous
nuclear deal. India's illicit pursuit of nuclear weapons would
effectively be forgiven. And for the first time in 30 years, it would
be allowed to buy nuclear fuel and equipment for its civilian energy
program from the United States and other nations.

Instead of celebrating a big political win, the deal quickly turned
into a political nightmare for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, nearly
toppling his government. India's Communist Party, his junior
coalition partner, is dead set against the agreement and any broader
strategic relationship with the United States.

President Bush, who is eager for any foreign policy win before he
goes back to Crawford, Tex., is pressing Mr. Singh hard to finally
work this out. Mr. Singh is now looking for new allies.

As far as we're concerned, there is no reason at all to rush.
President Bush gave away far too much and got far too little for this
deal. No promise from India to stop producing bomb-making material.
No promise not to expand its arsenal. And no promise not to resume
nuclear testing.

Mr. Bush may be running out of time, but Congress, the International
Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (the 45 nations
that set the rules for nuclear trade) will need plenty of it to
review the agreement before deciding whether to grant their
respective approvals. At a minimum, they must insist that
international suppliers halt nuclear trade if India tests another
nuclear weapon, as it last did in 1998. And they must insist that
India accept the fullest possible monitoring of its civilian nuclear
facilities by I.A.E.A. inspectors.

The United States must ensure that any rule the suppliers' group
adopts for selling technology to India is not weaker than anything
already in American law. Otherwise, New Delhi will be able to end run
Washington and buy technology and fuel from states — like Russia and
France — that are even more eager for the business and even less
punctilious than this country.

Mr. Bush was right to build on the Clinton administration legacy and
forge stronger ties with India, a burgeoning power whose democratic
values provide a unique basis for cooperation. But it was a mistake
to let India and industry lobbyists persuade him to make the nuclear
deal the centerpiece.

If Mr. Singh finds a way to push the deal forward, it would be a
mistake for the United States to try and ram through the remaining
approvals — by the I.A.E.A. board, the Nuclear Suppliers Group and
Congress — just to meet the artificial deadline of Mr. Bush's

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