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December 03, 2006
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December 03, 2006




Page: 7/34

Home > 2006 Issues > December 03, 2006

Worldwatch

The nuclear game is in a flux
No need for India to tie down by unequal deals

By M.D. Nalapat

The present form deviates substantially from both the letter and spirit of the July 18, 2005 Bush-Singh understanding. With the passage of the proposed legislation through first the US House of representatives and now the US Senate, Washington has fallen substantially below the minimum conditions needed to protect Indian interests.

What is the situation? It is: The UPA has done nothing to prevent the surrender of vital interests. The Agreement as it stands following its passage through the US Senate, is already well below acceptable parameters. India should object now, before the final legislation is passed and go back to the drawing board.

Thus far Manmohan Singh has been extremely circumspect about the bill passed so overwhelmingly by the US Senate. An examination of this legislation indicates that the present form deviates substantially from both the letter and spirit of the July 18, 2005 Bush-Singh understanding. With the passage of the proposed legislation through first the US House of Representatives and now the US Senate, Washington has fallen substantially below the minimum conditions needed to protect Indian interests

This does not come as a surprise to scientists who had already anticipated that it was unlikely that India would be accomodated in any substantial form, underscoring the fact that as yet, the US political elite is unwilling to accord India at least the same status as it does to much smaller (and less threatened) countries such as France and the UK. In contrast, India is still considered almost a colony, expected to shoulder heavy burdens with little reward, the way more than two million Indian soldiers risked their lives for the Allies in World War I and World War II without their mother country getting anything more than crippling taxes and continued slavery in return. Until the US acknowledges that 2006 is not 1946 (when, once again, India got shortchanged at the Bretton Woods conference), it will not be feasible to negotiate an agreement with Washington that is even halfway fair to India. Despite this, the Manmohan Singh government has been desperate to sign any legislation brought to it for signing, provided a few sugary words are added to camouflage the malign effects of the legislation.

The present nuclear deal is based on the premise that India should step back from its tryst with an independent and effective strategic capability in exchange for being a dumping ground for obsolete technology. India will be denied ?full nuclear cooperation? including the right to reprocess, a technique mastered by this country four decades back. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and others have stated that India must await the last and final version of the Bill before reacting. With no substantial deviation from the current form expected (unless new clauses get added which worsen the deal further) because the US President has gone into the ?lame duck? phase with less power to push through what he has already committed to (e.g. assurances of uninterrupted fuel supply to India), India is clearly left with a promise that can never be realised.

The writing has been on the wall for more than a year, ever since the testimony of US Under-Secretaries Nicholas Burns and Robert Joseph to the US Congress. To object to going ahead with the Agreement after it becomes law, will be far too late.

The US Senate does not as much as acknowledge that India does have concerns, as is clear from the points given below: The Agreement in its present form is already well below the Lowest Common Denominator as laid out in the July 18, 2005 Statement and in Parliament. How can it be expected that a less powerful President will be able to achieve a reconciliation that will be above the baseline needed to protect Indian interests?

The testimony of John Rood comes to mind. He clearly stated on oath that all the negative points mentioned in commentaries by Indian scientists and others were already agreed to prior to July 18, 2005. By whom and when? The present stand taken by the Indian authorities?keeping silence in the declared expectation of better terms while doing nothing to bring about such an outcome?only underscores this testimony as fact. If so, it would explain why the UPA seems determined to push through the present deeply flawed deal. Near extinct US nuclear industries will be happy as they will re-learn the business using Indian talent and cash and forcing India to substitute ?thorium-for-uranium? as an added benefit.

This will ensure that India is permanently dependent on foreign fuel with the attendent future threat of withdrawal of supply, a threat that has been carried out repeatedly in the past. This time, the difference is that we have no escape route. A lame duck President gets a foreign policy victory, bringing India to supplicant status. The US, China and the EU get a much needed NPT victory even as the Treaty flounders following the tests by N. Korea and the possibility of Brazil and Iran withdrawing from the outdated and unfair NPT regime. India becomes disabled and is kept from taking its rightful place as an independent global player in the nuclear technology market, as the country would in effect be forced to subscribe to a near-defunct NPT regime without an exit clause.

The US Senate would have been foolish to walk away from such a golden opportunity. Everyone (except apparently the Indian government) knows that it is completely unlikely that the ?123? Agreement will be in line with the July 18 (2005) Joint Statement. To expect the Indian authorities to wake up and object to signing the Agreement after the Bill becomes US law goes well beyond the absurd.

The Bush administration has publicly hailed the Indo-US nuclear deal as ?a great step forward in bringing India under the purview of the NPT?. This is at a time when the discriminatory NPT regime that India has opposed since its inception has begun faltering. The nuclear emasculation of India will be the first significant victory for a failing NPT during the past decade.

Pakistan?a known proliferator and non-signatory?gets bountiful sops from the US Signing NPT is no bar to the getting of fuel, as Pakistan is showing with China. Brazil, an NPT signatory, is pursuing active enrichment and may supply fuel to China. Brazil may even withdraw from NPT and has already withdrawn from the very IAEA ins pection regime being forced on India, because such a regime destroys the country?s ability to master the skills needed to ensure Front Rank status in the emerging world order. I ran too may withdraw, as also North Korea, but under the treaty now in danger of signature under Maino Family rule, India will not be allowed this opportunity. There is no exit clause for India even if national security reasons are present

S. Korea and Japan are reviewing their ?protected? status with the US which has given no foolproof assurance of protection against N Korea. If they cannot rely on the US for defense against attack by a nuclear power, can india? Only comprehensive weaponisation can protect the people of this country from attack. The difference between Japan and South Korea now and India after signing the nuclear agreement is that they have the ability to create their own deterrent systems, whereas India will lose that capability soon after the harsh conditions of the deal come into fullblown effect As for the injunction that India should follow the foreign policy adopted by the US, Iraq is just one example of how disastrous such policies often are. If Senators such as Barak Obama have their way, India will not be allowed to either stockpile or re-process fuel. The country will get reduced to a pitiful, cringing giant ripe for another millenium of servitude.

In attempting to address the many aspects of the deal as it stands following its passage through the US Senate, two obvious points stand out: The Senate has not taken into account India?s objections despite the promise of the US President that India?s ?concerns? will be taken into account; the much-touted ?assurance? of perpetual uranium fuel supply has effectively been retracted (India will not be allowed to stockpile uranium fuel or purchase stocks in advance).

It will be recalled that it was on this assurance that India had agreed to safeguards in perpetuity as stated repeatedly by our Prime Minister and the US President on March 3rd 2006 during the Presidential visit. In fact, the alleged providing of ?watertight? assurances to India on future fuel supplies for imported reactors in exchange for India accepting perpe tual safeguards was hailed as a victory for India

If India accepts the Additional Protocol and safeguards in perpetuity in the absence of assured uranium fuel supplies, what India has gained is a mystery. The complete absence of any protest from the same government at the numerous US deviations from the July 18 understanding is telling The fact that the Indian government has not raised serious objections only goes to show tacit approval.

What is the situation? It is: The UPA has done nothing to prevent the surrender of vital interests. The Agreement as it stands following its passage through the US Senate, is already well below acceptable parameters. India should object now, before the final legislation is passed and go back to the drawing board. All original objections by scientists and Parliamentarians remain and are reinforced due to the noticeable lack of any sensible or cogent response from the Government on terms which are rapidly worsening while allowing no flexibility to India in reacting to the change.

In keeping with this trend, India probably does not plan to object to ?killer clauses? in favour of waiting for the ?final? outcome in striking similarity to the search for the ?holy grail?. The intent of the US and Indian governments is becoming more transparant and it is apparent that we intend to sign anything that may be offered to us. The likelihood is that the final legislation will be worded cleverly to continue to obfuscate key issues where India?s security and sovereignty will be completely compromised.

All current ?objections? are lipservice and are being dealt with as such by the US administration. Note that the US President has not committed to accomodating India on official record but rather through phone conversations with our PM or on the sidelines at other venues. The only winner will be the US and US industry while India is put through a self-defeating rigmarole of ?convincing? the IAEA and the NSG with carrots that are disap pearing rapidly into US corporate coffers even before the deal is signed. The final victory will mean a complete extinction of indigenous technology including the 3-stage programme. The post-mortem examination of 50 years of atomic energy in India will finally offer up any secrets that may remain upto the time that the Agreement is signed. The forensic s pecialists will invade India?s strategic programmes as ?inspectors? by invitation to our facilities.

The Indian authorities have yet to object to these offensive clauses in any convincing manner. To expect such clauses to disappear from the final version in the absence of any objections by India verges on the unreal. The country is on the edge of a sellout that would dwarf previous such actions. Action is needed to educate the public and to mobilise opinion against such a disastrous outcome.




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