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A historic deal reached by India and the United States last week could mark the end of India's nuclear isolation.

The country's nuclear energy programme has been cut off from foreign technology since international sanctions were imposed after India tested its first nuclear bomb in 1974.

The new deal, which awaits approval by the US Congress, would give India access to cheaper nuclear technology and fuel (see India and US pledge research cooperation).

India, in turn, will abide by the same restrictions as the five official nuclear weapon states: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

But many Indian scientists fear the deal will undermine their home-grown technologies and threaten ambitions for self-sufficiency in nuclear energy.

Among the restrictions that India will have to respect, nuclear experts are concerned that a promise to segregate civilian and military nuclear facilities will be both impractical and detrimental to research.

Younger researchers are more open minded about the plans for separating the military and civilian applications, but those who have been part of the establishment for longer believe the resourcefulness which they have built over years of isolation is slipping away. 

Link to full Nature news story