The much heralded Indo-US civil nuclear deal for co-operation in nuclear power is fraught with controversies. Nuclear power is a double-edged term - as it may refer to peaceful power generation or the production of nuclear weapons capable of mass destruction. The benefit of this ambiguity has been repeatedly exploited by a de-facto nuclear weapons state, India. The conclusion of this deal in the form of a signature on 123 Agreement in October 2008 between India and the US has created yet another international dogma. The end of 1960s saw the developing states of the world striving hard to acquire nuclear weapons technology. Therefore, the creation of the nuclear non-proliferation regime to control and limit the development of nuclear weapons became an imperative need. At the centre of this regime, is the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT), which came into force in 1970, and has been ratified by 189 countries. The objective of the treaty is to curtail the spread of nuclear weapons technology and ensure disarmament. The NPT classifies the world into two groups; the Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) which include the USA, Russia, the UK, France and China, and the Non-Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS), which comprise the rest of the world. According to the NPT, a NWS is one which has manufactured and tested a nuclear explosive device prior to 1st January 1967. Under Articles I and II of the NPT, the NWS undertake not to help the NNWS to develop or acquire nuclear weapons, and the NNWS permanently renounce the pursuit of such weapons. To ensure the commitment towards treaty obligations, Article III of the NPT authorizes the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect the nuclear facilities of the NNWS. India has never been a member of the NPT. However, it tested a 'peaceful nuclear device', as it was then described by the Indian government) in 1974. This was the first nuclear device developed and tested after the creation of the NPT and hence it raised new questions about how civilian nuclear technology could secretly be diverted to weapons programmes (dual-use technology). After the NPT, the next step taken to control the trade of nuclear material was the founding of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which has 45 member states presently. The NSG includes the states that export nuclear and nuclear-related materials, while ensuring the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. One should note that the NSG also came into being in response to the 1974 nuclear test by India. The diversion of the Indian civil nuclear programme was possible because India obtained multidimensional assistance from Canada, the UK and the US to develop its self-proclaimed peaceful nuclear programme in the 1950s and the early 1960s. Consequently, the country that was considered to be a 'responsible state' surprised the whole world by its deviousness in converting this civil nuclear technology into a nuclear explosion test. To keep a check on the export of nuclear technology in future, NSG Guidelines were, therefore, laid down. The basic principle of the NSG guidelines is that the nuclear export should not be made to the NNWS which can be used or diverted to non-peaceful purposes. Moreover, they strictly negate any trade with a state which is not, firstly, a party to the NPT or does not have an IAEA comprehensive safeguards agreement in force. Considering the above mentioned legal benchmarks of the non-proliferation regime, the Indo-US deal is a blatant violation of the NPT and the NSG guidelines. Even though they are not binding on India, but the US is a party to both. The United Nations Security Council resolution 1887 states, "...situation of non-compliance with non-proliferation obligations shall be brought to the attention of the Security Council...". In the light of this resolution, it can be argued that the US has deviated from her commitments towards the NPT. In actual practice, however, a special treatment and exception has been made to allow the deal to go ahead. The US has left no stone unturned to resolve all the legal lacunae involving this deal. Hectic diplomatic efforts by the US ensured approval by the IAEA of the India Specific Safeguards Agreement, which paved the way for India to become eligible for a waiver by the NSG. This waiver is an unprecedented step, which grants exemption to a country which is not a party to the NPT. In addition, the US had to amend her domestic laws regarding the trade of nuclear technology through Hyde Act of 2006 to facilitate the signing of 123 Agreement. The irony of this whole charade of giving this deal a concrete form, is that the nuclear non-proliferation regime, which actually came into existence due to apprehensions about a country, has been set aside to sanction the nuclear programme of that very country. The question that arises out of this discussion is that whether this deal is an exception or a precedent? If it is an exception, then why is it India alone that is entitled to enjoy the 'forbidden fruit'? And if it is a precedent, then should other de facto nuclear weapons states, including Pakistan, also seek the same benefits from the NSG? In both cases, this deal will continue to rest on a shaky legal foundation. The author is a Practising Advocate and a Research Associate at the Research Society of International law (RSIL) Pakistan. asadmaan@rsilpak.org