AFTER getting a questionable civilian nuclear deal from the US, India has now signed an even more accommodating nuclear deal with Russia, on Monday. While the deal is being termed a civilian nuclear agreement, the nature of the deal provides military benefits as well. To begin with, the agreement places no conditionalities on the supply of nuclear fuel for India's civilian reactors, including the five new ones being built with Russian assistance. In fact, according to this agreement, there will be uninterrupted nuclear fuel supplies from Russia even if bilateral ties in this field are terminated for any reason Then, unlike the Indo-US agreement, the agreement with Russia allows India to reprocess spent fuel which could eventually be diverted for military purposes. An even more direct link between civil and military is provided for through the transfer of enrichment and nuclear technologies - a gain with no restrictions. India has been unable to follow Pakistan in the enrichment route and has been seeking to make up this deficit in technological capability. Given how this nuclear agreement is part of an overall military strategic cooperation agreement, there is certainly a hidden military component to this nuclear deal. Even the overt clauses reflect Russia contravening its Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations. There is little clarity over safeguards also because no mention is made of IAEA safeguards even though some of the reactors being supplied by Russia are under IAEA safeguards but will all the new Russian-supplied reactors have this provision? This has not been clarified so far. Interestingly, while the Indo-US Agreement (123 Agreement) was subjected to much debate and scrutiny internationally and within India - almost causing a political crisis in the latter case - the Indo-Russia agreement has been done quickly with little international debate despite the fact that this is a far more dangerous agreement; and almost no controversy within India itself. Does this imply that the international community has given up n the proliferation issue; or does it imply a more discriminatory approach to nonproliferation where only Muslim states like Pakistan and Iran will be targeted? There can be no doubt that this Russia-India nuclear deal adds another nail in the coffin of the NPT-defined nonproliferation regime. For India it is also a signal to the US that India has other even more cooperative partners in the nuclear and military field - at a time when the Obama Administration's nonproliferation agenda may threaten Indo-US nuclear cooperation.