Advancing a Free Society

Building a New Relationship with India

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Editor's note: The following essay is an excerpt from the book, "No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington," by Condoleezza Rice

…On February 28 [2006], the President left for India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The trip required the most delicate balancing act to get the messaging right in each of the places. Our delinking of relations with Islamabad and New Delhi was working—there was no more talk of U.S. policy toward India-Pakistan, or Indo-Pak, as it was sometimes called. We now had distinct approaches to both important countries. And we were doing really well with India: while there the President would sign the landmark civil nuclear deal.

The nuclear deal was the centerpiece of our effort to build a fundamentally different relationship with India. From the earliest stages of the 2000 campaign, it had been our intention to change the terms of U.S.-Indian engagement. As I noted earlier, the crucial nuclear agreement required breaking many taboos. India had refused to sign the NPT in 1968 and had then conducted a nuclear test in 1974. Only five countries had been “grandfathered” as nuclear powers in 1968—the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, France, and China. Any country that subsequently acquired a nuclear capability was deemed to be in violation of this important set of prohibitions. In 1978 President Jimmy Carter signed a bill that cut off all nuclear trade with India.

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