It will be in the long-term interests of both India and the USA to keep the 123 talks on the back burner, lest, being unequal treaty, it becomes the focal point of new wave of anti-Americanism in India, and India should focus on evolving other routes to import nuclear reactors in bulk. Given the pragmatism of Indian diplomats, there are ?other legitimate routes.? In the mean time both governments should focus on deepening bilateral relations in other fields like agriculture, anti-terrorism, civil aviation, defence cooperation including military hardware, education, global disarmament on non-discriminatory basis, investments and maritime cooperation. Next Steps in Strategic Partnerships (NSSP), science & technology, trade & commerce, UN reforms, etc. where sky is the limit.
In 1963 India and the US signed a bilateral agreement under which America agreed to provide two nuclear reactors for a power plant at Tarapur, near Mumbai. The agreement stipulated that the US would sell ?all requirements of the Government of India for enriched uranium? for the two nuclear power reactors till 1993, and that when any spent fuel requires reprocessing, ?such reprocessing may be performed in Indian facilities upon a joint determination by the parties? (India and the US). Following India'snuclear explosion of July 1974, the US backed out from these two commitments.
Jimmy Carter tried to force India sign NPT by withholding supplies to Tarapur plant. Clinton also tried but in vain to ?cap, and roll back? our nuclear programme by applying pressure on us to sign the CTBT and FMCT. Clinton finally gave up after the US Senate rejected the CTBT. Now the US Congress is trying to do the same through the Hyde Act.
Section 123(a) (4) of the US Atomic Energy Act 1954 stipulates that the US shall have the right to require return of all nuclear materials and equipment if the cooperating party detonates a nuclear explosive device or terminates or abrogates an agreement providing for IAEA safeguards. Section 123(a) (7) and Section 127(5) prohibit reprocessing and enrichment of US-supplied materials and products thereof without prior approval of the USA. Section 129 stipulates that export of nuclear materials and equipment and sensitive nuclear technology to non-nuclear weapon state shall be automatically terminated if it detonated any nuclear explosive device.
These three are believed to be main hurdles in signing the 123 agreement with the USA. The point to be noted is that these hurdles are not created by the Hyde Act but were already there on US statute books before July 2005. In this background, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was misled by his myopic advisers to believe that President Bush with his declining influence at the Capitol Hill will be able to roll back these statutory limitations on US government to allow India in black and white to reprocess and to detonate without return of US nuclear supplies. Consequently, Dr Singh had to see dilution of commitments made by him to India in the famous Joint Statement of July 18, 2005 and in his statements before the Indian Parliament.
The Hyde Act [HR 5682 EAS] has to incorporate above provisions of the US AEA which it has dutifully done. The Hyde Act clearly states [Section 101 (5) and (6)] that its aim is to maximise India'sadherence to international non-proliferation regimes, and, that the US should not seek to facilitate or encourage the continuation of nuclear exports to India by any other party if such exports are terminated under the US laws. In other words as and when the Indo-US nuclear cooperation gets terminated, the US government shall be bound by the Hyde Act to ask other countries not to supply those nuclear materials/equipment to India.
Under Section 103 of the Hyde Act there are at least 13 policy directives and conditions for atomic energy cooperation with India. The very first policy directive to the US government is to achieve cessation of the production by India of fissile material for nuclear weapons. Other directions to the US government are to seek India'scompliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT], full participation of India in Proliferation Security Initiative, formal commitment of India to Interdiction Principles, India'scommitment to negotiate with the Nuclear Suppliers Group [NSG] how to further restrict transfer of nuclear technology to India, and that, export of nuclear fuel to India should not contribute to or increase fissile material stock of India for non-civilian purposes.
Pakistan has been referred thrice in the Hyde Act showing that US law-makers have yet to give up their age-old fascination to hyphenate India with Pakistan though, to be honest, President Bush had repeatedly said that records of India and Pakistan in nuclear matters were not similar. This US tendency to hyphenate is deeply resented by all sections of Indian people which, in turn, gives fresh oxygen to anti-Americanism in India.
Section 105(3) of the Hyde Act requires India to sign with IAEA safeguards agreement for perpetuity but the Hyde Act does commit US to supply nuclear fuel and equipment in perpetuity, i.e. at least till life span of nuclear reactor.
Section 105(5) stipulates that India would be working with the US to conclude a multilateral treaty on cessation of production of fissile materials for military purposes.
Section 105(8) demands India to fully and actively participate in US and international efforts to dissuade, sanction and contain Iran for its nuclear programme consistent with the UN Security Council Resolutions.
Section 106 prohibits export and re-export of any equipment, materials or technology related to the enrichment of uranium, the reprocessing of spent fuel or production of heavy water.
Section 107 asks US President to submit a very intrusive annual reporting on nuclear activities of India as if India were a banana republic.
Section 110 stipulates that any waiver given to India shall cease to be effective if India detonates a nuclear explosive device after November 2006. On detonation, all exports of nuclear materials to India will automatically stop and return all nuclear material under the US Atomic Energy Act even if not so clearly stated under the Hyde Act or under the proposed 123 agreement.
The real objectives of the Hyde Act are to cap, contain, and roll back Indian nuclear programme and to cripple nuclear autonomy. Thus, the Hyde Act like food aid is going to be another instrument in the hands of anti-US forces in India to whip up anti-Americanism. No wonder the Pew Research Centre found that anti-Americanism, since 2002, has deepened in many parts of the world though not yet in India. Surprisingly the short-sighted American policies in long term give birth to anti-Americanism.
On December 18, 2006 President Bush signed the Hyde Act of 2006 into law. Just hours later, he also signed a ?Presidential Signing Statement? for this bill. In this, he stated, ?Section 103 of the (Hyde) Act purports to establish US policy with respect to various international affairs matters. My approval of the Act does not constitute my adoption of the statements of policy as US foreign policy? The executive branch shall construe such policy statements as advisory. Also ? the executive branch shall construe Section 104(d)(2) of the Act as advisory ? (and) shall construe provisions of the Act such as Sections 104 and 109 in a manner consistent with the President'sConstitutional authority to protect and control information that could impair foreign relations.? It is common sense that such statements can neither dilute the law nor are binding on succeeding Presidents.
In the July 18, 2005 Joint press statement, President Bush did not go beyond designating India as a responsible state with advanced nuclear technology and, that India should acquire the same benefits and advantages as other such states. In other words, Bush declared his wish to treat India no more as a ?nuclear untouchable? but on par with such other advanced states like Germany, Japan etc which are non-nuclear weapon states as per NPT terminology. But without seeking public clarifications from the USA, Prime Minister was ill-advised to treat this US formulation as the US acceptance to treat India on par with advanced states like USA, i.e. to treat India as a nuclear weapon state. On March 8, 2006, the White House clarified that US did not recognise India as a Nuclear Weapon State.
The Joint Press statement of July 18, 2005 reads: ?The Prime Minister conveyed that for his part, India would reciprocally agree that it would be ready to assume the same responsibilities and practices and acquire the same benefits and advantages as other leading countries with advanced nuclear technology, such as the United States.? So, all claims of parity and reciprocity with advanced countries like the US in nuclear matters collapsed because of incorrect reading of US formulations in this joint statement by PM'smyopic advisers.
On July 29, 2005, the PM said in Parliament, ?Reciprocity is the key to the implementation of all the steps enumerated in the Joint Statement. Indian actions will be contingent at every stage on actions taken by the other side. Should we not be satisfied that our interests are fully secured, we shall not feel pressed to move ahead.? Later PM told the Rajya Sabha on August 4, ?The starting sentence of that July 18 Joint Statement refers to that all these commitments are to be interpreted in reciprocity. If there is no action taken by the US government, we are completely free, for example, to stay where we are. We are not required to do anything.? In his February 27, 2006 suo-motu statement to Parliament, the PM said, ?I had stressed that reciprocity was the key and we expected that the steps to be taken by India would be conditional upon and contingent on action taken by the US.?
On safeguards, the PM (July 29, 2005) assured Parliament: ?Before voluntarily placing our civilian facilities under IAEA safeguards, we will ensure that all restrictions on India have been lifted.?
The Hyde Act as seen above has demolished all the above assurances given by the PM to Parliament. This Act requires India first to sign a detailed (123) nuclear agreement with the US, to conclude and put into effect an irrevocable agreement with the IAEA to place our civilian facilities under perpetual safeguards, and to obtain a consensus agreement from the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to permit supplies to India. When all these three agreements are reached, the US Congress will debate the matter of waiving and modifying US laws in favour of India and pass new bill. If not, India will end up having no nuclear cooperation deal with the US, but saddled with irrevocable IAEA safeguards in perpetuity on our all civilian nuclear installations.
As Rajiv Gandhi was misled by his advisers to believe that LTTE will be disarmed within a week, Dr Singh also appears to have been misled by his chosen advisers. Sometimes a PM should look beyond shoulders of his advisers.
The Hyde Act contains clauses which totally negate PM'sassurances on uninterrupted nuclear fuel supply to India. The multiple mechanisms through which uninterrupted supply was to be ensured were outlined in the Separation Plan tabled in Parliament. In March, PM stated: ?To further guard against any disruption of fuel supplies for India, the US is prepared to take other additional steps, such as: (a) Incorporating assurances regarding fuel supply in a bilateral agreement. (b) The US will join India in seeking to negotiate with the IAEA an India-specific fuel supply agreement. (c) The US will support an Indian effort to develop a strategic reserve of nuclear fuel. (d) If, despite these arrangements, a disruption of fuel supplies to India occurs, the US and India would jointly convene a group of friendly supplier countries to include countries such as Russia, France and the United Kingdom to pursue such measures as would restore fuel supply to India.? Section 102(6) of the Hyde Act negates all these assurances of PM.
Section 105(9) of the Hyde Act specially stipulates that decisions of the 45-member NSG for commerce in civil nuclear energy with India should be taken by consensus. It means that every member of the NSG can veto supply of any nuclear material to India and thus make Indian energy security vulnerable to pulls and pressures of international diplomacy.
Thus, the nuclear fuel supply will depend upon annual certificate of good behaviour by the US President making our energy security hostage to politics, whims and fancies of US Congressmen too. No wonder many political parties including the BJP, and the Left parties are opposed to the present text of the Indo-US deal. Dr Jayalalitha of the AIADMK aptly termed the Hyde Act as the new charter of Indian slavery.
At present India is an energy deficit country, and Americans claim that the Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation aims at helping India meet energy deficit by removing sanctions on nuclear commerce which will enable India import nuclear reactors but subject to various conditions (IAEA additional protocol, safeguards in perpetuity, the Hyde Act conditions, the 123 Agreement conditions, India'srelations with Iran, the Fissile Material Control Treaty, Agreement with the Nuclear Suppliers Group, no more nuclear detonation by India, no reprocessing of imported nuclear fuel by India, very intrusive annual inspections of nuclear facilities in India etc.) which Indian people supported by ?patriotic? Indian scientific community, perceive as unfriendly acts of the USA designed to ?cap and roll back? Indian nuclear programme, to cripple the Indian fast breeder nuclear cycle, and to make India a perpetual ?client state? or ?coolie state? in matters of enriched uranium fuel.
Thus, the history of food aid period is repeating itself in form of the Hyde Act, and, the USA at amazing pace has succeeded to unite the Indian Right and the Left against itself.
A right thing is being done in a wrong way. There are more amicable and less polemical routes available to India to meet the energy deficit including import of civilian nuclear reactors from countries including the US and the NSG countries than the controversial 123 route being followed by the UPA Government For example two units of 1000 MW light water reactors at Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu are under construction with Russian help but without raising any anti-Russian feelings among Indian people, and, without any criticism of Russia by the Indian scientific community.
Anti-Americanism among Indian masses was and is fanned and sustained by pro-Pakistan ?tilt? in US policies, and, the tendency among American experts to hyphenate India and Pakistan. As Americans will not like to be bracketed with Venezuela or Mexico similarly Indians don'trelish to be bracketed with Pakistan, the epicentre of Islamic terrorism.
(The writer retired in 2007 in the rank of Secretary to the Government of India in the Indian Foreign Service [1971 batch].)