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State Department spokesman Sean McCormack declined to discuss details of the latest proposal, but he said the administration won’t do anything that is not in the U.S. national interest. Another official defended the deal, saying it is worthwhile if India subjects more of its nuclear program to IAEA safeguards.

But Mr. Kimball, noting that such safeguards exist only at six Indian facilities, said the deal would not commit India to “any nonproliferation action it wasn’t already committed to.”

“The administration has given up on the argument that the deal would bring India into the nonproliferation mainstream,” he said.

Christopher Griffin, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said the administration’s concessions are not a “real surprise, because its interest is not as much in nonproliferation as in removing the barrier to strategic cooperation with India on a broader agenda.”