Salient points made by the Leader of Opposition, Shri L.K. Advani while speaking on the Indo-US Nuclear Deal in Lok Sabha on 28 November 2007.
This is one of the most important debates ever held in the history of Indian Parliament. But, oddly enough, the government of the day has created a situation where it arrogantly claims that the majority view in Parliament will have no bearing on the decision it has already taken on the matter.
I have here with me the transcript of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in Washington on July 20, 2005. He addressed this press conference two days after the July 18 Joint Statement between him and President Bush on Nuclear Cooperation.
QUESTION: Mr. Prime Minister, do you see any resistance coming forward from your allies and the opposition in putting the new India-US policy to practice? And will you seek a parliamentary consensus or approval to the new direction you seem to be taking in foreign policy?
PRIME MINISTER DR. SINGH: Well, the Parliament in our country is sovereign. It is my intention to make a statement in Parliament when I go back home. And it goes without saying that we can move forward only on the basis of a broad national consensus.
My poser to Prime Minister is: When it is obvious that there is no broad national consensus for going ahead with the deal, why is he bent upon doing so? Why is he not renegotiating the deal to secure broad consensual support in Parliament, which he himself had said is sovereign?
In the last session we in the NDA demanded constitution of a JPC. The government did not agree. Instead, it formed a UPA-Left coordination committee.
Parliament has a right to know what this committee has accomplished so far. It has had at least six meetings so far. From media reports, it appears that the only outcome each time is to decide to meet again next time.
But the hidden agenda of the Congress members on the committee seems to be ?Deal Bachao? and now, the hidden agenda of the Communist members on the committee seems to be ?Bengal Bachao?.
Thus, far from discussing the Nuclear Deal, the committee has ended up discussing mutual protection strategies. Article 16.2 of the 123 text says the agreement shall remain in force for 40 years. Mr. Speaker Sir, it is simply inconceivable that an agreement of such a long duration has been dealt with by this government in the most cavalier fashion. Dr. Manmohan Singh, in his statement in Parliament on 123 agreement on August 13, 2007, stated:
?As I have said, this is an Agreement for cooperation between India and the US on peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Its genesis is the shared perception between India and the US that both our countries need to address their energy challenges.?
Mr. Speaker Sir, first of all, the US is not looking for nuclear energy as a major option ?leave alone, the most important option?for addressing its energy challenges. In fact, there is not a single new nuclear reactor being built in USA for the past many years.
Now, as far as India is concerned, both Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Smt. Sonia Gandhi have been projecting the nuclear deal as a panacea for India'senergy crisis.
Speaking at the Tarapur Atomic Power Plant on August 31, Dr. Manmohan Singh warned that India cannot ?afford to miss? the nuclear bus. I quote: He said, ?There is today talk the world over of a nuclear renaissance and we cannot afford to miss the bus or lag behind these global developments.?
Smt. Sonia Gandhi went a step further. At a rally at Jhajjar in Haryana in October, she declared that ?Those who are opposed to the deal are not only enemies of the Congress but also of India'sdevelopment.? It is another matter that on the same day, Congress party'smedia department told the press that her remarks were ?Haryana-specific?!
?Enemies of development?? I could not believe that Soniaji could call the NDA or her own Left allies in the UPA ?enemies?.
I have with me the report of the Planning Commission'sexpert committee titled ?Integrated Energy Policy?. It was released in August 2006, and, therefore, it has taken into account all the promises made in the nuclear deal. The committee was headed by Dr. Kireet Parekh and Dr. Anil Kakodkar, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, was also a member on the committee.
India'snuclear power capacity at present is about 4,000 MW. The report says: ?Even if a 20-fold increase takes place in India'snuclear power capacity by 2031-32, the contribution of nuclear energy to India'senergy mix is, at best, expected to be 4.0-6.4%.? Remember that the report takes into account the most ?optimistic scenario? of supply of imported nuclear fuel, made possible through the Indo-US agreement. It says that, even in the best-case scenario, our nuclear power generation will not be more than 63,000 MW by 2030 ?that is, less that 6% of the country'stotal energy needs.
But I wish to tell my Congress friends categorically: ?Do not try to fool the people by promising that your party wants solve the bijlee shortage through the nuclear deal, whereas it is the BJP and others who are not letting you do it and, therefore, they are enemies of India'sdevelopment.?
Therefore, the Congress leadership should have the honesty in admitting to the people that this deal is about a new strategic relationship with the United States, one in which India will be a subservient partner.
If it was only about selling a few nuclear reactors to India, we would not have seen so many leading American politicians and public figures coming to New Delhi and holding talks with people in government and opposition.
Nicholas Burns, the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and the main American negotiator of the agreement was very candid when he said on July 27, soon after the 123 agreement was concluded: ?This deal brings India back into the non-proliferation mainstream in a way it was never before.? In other words, by making India enter the NPT regime through the backdoor, the US has succeeded in getting Dr. Manmohan Singh do something which every Indian PM since Indira Gandhi had opposed.
In October, Burns further elaborated on the strategic nature of the deal. Terming it as the ?center-piece of Indo-US strategic relationship?, he explained why India is becoming more important for America in the 21st century. ?Twenty or 30 years from now, many Americans would say India is one of the two or three most important global partners?the way Japan and the European Union are today.??
Mr. Speaker Sir, our critics tell us, ?But you started the negotiations with Americans. If you were in power, you would have signed the same deal.?
Let me cite here a revealing interview by Ashley Tellis, an eminent expert on the subject who has been closely working with the US negotiators. He has also met persons both in government and in the opposition. He is the author of a scholarly book, which provides the conceptual framework for the US policy of ?capping, reversing and rolling back? India'snuclear arsenal.
In July 2006, he was interviewed by Rediff.com.
Question: Why was no deal struck then with the Vajpayee government?
Tellis: The deal could not be reached because the Vajpayee government did not offer much to the US in exchange for the agreement. We got more from the government of (Prime Minister) Dr Manmohan Singh.
Question: What is it that you wanted from the Vajpayee government but could not get?
Tellis: I am afraid I cannot answer this question.
I have put it in a language that a layman can understand.
? Smt. Indira Gandhi did India proud in 1974 by conducting Pokharan I.
? Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee did India more proud by conducting Pokharan II.
? But Dr. Manmohan Singh will ensure through this deal that there will be no Pokharan III.
The supporters of the deal in the government and outside have been claiming that 123 Agreement does not prohibit India'sright to test. Indeed, Dr. Manmohan Singh, in his statement in the Lok Sabha on August 13, 2007, affirmed that ?The Agreement does not in any way affect India'sright to undertake future nuclear tests, if it is necessary in India'snational interest. Let me hence reiterate once again that a decision to undertake a future nuclear test would be our sovereign decision, one that rests solely with the Government. There is nothing in the Agreement that would tie the hands of a future Government or legally constrain its options to protect India'ssecurity and defence needs.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Hyde Act'sSection 106 openly bans Indian testing. It also specifies the consequent punitive actions that might follow, including the US's?right of return? of nuclear reactors and other material sold to India. The 123 agreement upholds the applicability of national laws to govern its implementation.
Hence, 123 Agreement cannot override the Hyde Act.
In fact, I have here with me the full text of the contents of the press conference addressed by Nicholas Burns in Washington DC on July 27 after the finalization of the 123 Agreement.
Reporter'squestion: In the Hyde Act, US Congress made it quite clear that if India were to test a nuclear weapon, US cooperation with India should cease.. If you are giving India assurances that there will be no interruption in its fuel supplies, regardless of what happens, how does that comply with the law?
Look at Mr. Burn'sanswer to this question. He states: ?First of all, we were quite careful when we began – the latest phase of these negotiations to remind the Indian government that since the President and the Prime Minister had their two agreements of July 2005 and March 2006, something else happened: The (US) Congress had debated over six, seven months those agreements and the Congress has passed the Hyde Act. And so we had to make sure that everything in this US-India civil nuclear agreement, the 123 Agreement, was completely consistent with the Hyde Act and well within the bounds of the Hyde Act itself.?
Honourable Members should listen to the two salient points that Mr. Burns makes:
1) He reminded the Indian negotiating team that, in terms of the sequence of events, the Hyde Act comes after the two agreements between Dr. Manmohan Singh and President Bush.
Therefore, ?We had to make sure that everything in this US-India civil nuclear agreement, the 123 Agreement, was completely consistent with the Hyde Act and well within the bounds of the Hyde Act itself.?
I wish to draw the attention of the House to the PM'scategorical assurance to Parliament (in the Rajya Sabha) on August 17, 2006, before the Hyde Act was passed. He had stated: ?If in their final form, the US legislation or the adopted NSG guidelines impose extraneous conditions on India, the government will draw the necessary conclusions, consistent with the commitments I have made to Parliament.?
Now, all of us know that the US legislation in its final form did impose extraneous conditions on India. For example, the Hyde Act explicitly prohibited any future nuclear testing by India.
Mr. Speaker Sir, This debate reminds me of the saying: ?ACT IN HASTE, REPENT AT LEISURE.?
The UPA government is acting in undue haste in respect of the 123 Agreement, but India will have to repent it in the decades to come. Sometimes, the nation has to repent for the failure of the governments to act when action was not needed.
Had the Congress governments acted in the early 1960s to make nuclear weapons, soon after China conducted its first test at Lap Nor in 1964, as the Jana Sangh had demanded, we would have been spared both this debate and this 123 agreement. Because, by doing so, India would have been treated as a Nuclear Weapon State under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty that came into force in 1970.
And India would have been in a position to access nuclear fuel and technology for our nuclear energy programme without any discrimination.
For, as all of us know, NPT treats only five countries as Nuclear Weapon States because they conducted the test before 1970. And on others, it has shut the doors. Worse still, as in the case of India, it has denied us the opportunity to increase our nuclear energy production through legitimate international cooperation.
The first formal demand for the development of nuclear weapons was made in Parliament, by the Jana Singh party, in December 1962. My party then had made this demand in the wake of India'sdefeat in the 1962 Chinese war of aggression. We were defeated because we had neglected our military needs.
Dr. Homi Bhabha, the architect of India'snuclear programme, well aware that a Chinese nuclear test was not far off (his estimate was then 12 to 18 months), also began secretly agitating for a vigorous effort to match China?s, going so far as to ask Nehru to authorise a nuclear test.
On 4 October 1964, on a visit to London, Dr. Bhabha announces that India could detonate a nuclear bomb within 18 months if such a decision were taken; however, he asserts ?I do not think such a decision will be taken.?
Bhabha argued that ?atomic weapons give a State possessing them in adequate numbers a deterrent power against attack from a much stronger State?. (Perkovich 1999; pg. 67)
Ten years later, Smt. Indira Gandhi made some amends for the lapse by conducting Pokharan I. We in the Jana Sangh supported and congratulated her wholeheartedly, even though we were engaged in a serious political battle against her government at the time.
Contrast this with how the Congress reacted when the Vajpayee government took the next bold step in 1998 by conducting Pokharan II. Dr. Manmohan Singh launched a scathing attack on it in the Rajya Sabha. (Excerpts)
Until now, the BJP had never criticised any government in the past of diluting India'ssovereignty in defense matters. In fact, we supported the Indo-Soviet Defense Pact after the Bangladesh Liberation War.
India has been a sovereign and independent nation under all the prime ministers so far.
But the question is, many of them, for whatever reason, chose not to take the ultimate step of testing a nuclear device and declaring India a nuclear weapon state.
It has been the BJP'scontention that their reluctance kept India weak.
Both Pokharan I and Pokharan II invited condemnation and sanctions by the United States. In the case of Pokharan I and Pokharan II, the sanctions and punitive measures taken by the United States were entirely their own unilateral decision. Ours was the action and theirs was the reaction.
But the 123 Agreement, and the Hyde Act on which it is based, already make it clear that there will be punitive action if Pokharan III is conducted.
Yes, there is the provision of consultation in which India can explain to the United States the circumstances that compelled it to conduct Pokharan III and, if the US is satisfied with the explanation, it might not impose punitive action. But if it is not satisfied, there would be punitive action.
This is what is meant by India'sfreedom to conduct Pokharan III, with a caveat.
Mr. Speaker Sir, which self-respecting country?and I mean a sovereign country?can agree to embed a likely punitive action against itself in a bilateral agreement signed by it?
Therefore, we must clearly see the fundamental difference between the consequences of Pokharan I and II on the one hand, and the likely consequences of Pokharan III.
In the past, punitive action against India by the US was its own unilateral decision. In the future, such punitive action, if it materialises, will have India'sown sanction in a bilateral agreement.
And unlike what people like (defence analyst) Shri Subrahmanyam says, such punitive action will follow irrespective of who the future Prime Minister of India is going to be.
If this is not an infringement on India'ssovereignty, then I am afraid the Congress party has a very different definition of national sovereignty. And this infringement on India'ssovereignty is what Dr. Manmohan Singh has agreed to.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I have an important question to raise here.
Suppose a future Prime Minister of India?say in 2020?decides that, for national security reasons, Pokharan III is necessary and goes ahead with it irrespective of the consequences, as Smt. Indira Gandhi did in 1974 and as Shri Vajpayeeji did in 1998.
And suppose that the future US President at that time does not agree with the future Indian Prime Minister'sexplanation about the necessity for Pokharan and, invoking the provisions of the 123 Agreement that Dr. Manmohan Singh'sgovernment has signed, recalls the nuclear reactors and takes other punitive measures.
Dr. Manmohan Singhji and Soniaji, do you want to take such blame from a worthy successor of Smt. Indira Gandhi and Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee who conducts Pokharan III?
Don'tyou think you are answerable to the future generations of Indians?
Many government interlocutors have asked us: ?But India has already agreed to a nuclear-test moratorium. So why are you concerned about restrictions on Pokharan III??
I can tell you that even Dr. Manmohan Singh mentioned the unilateral moratorium when he met Shri Vajpayeeji at his residence last week. I was also present at the meeting.
Let me tell the Prime Minister and all the honourable members of this House that what the Vajpayee government declared after Pokharan II was a unilateral moratorium.
In legal parlance and practice, a unilateral moratorium places no binding commitment on us.
According to Russian official sources, an intergovernmental agreement, presumably on a par with India's123 agreement with the United States, was ?fully prepared for signature during the summit? but the Indian side backed out at the last minute. The whys, wherefores, and political implications of this negativism?at a sensitive juncture?in dealing with the only country currently involved in civilian nuclear cooperation with India deserve separate editorial analysis.?
I shall conclude my remarks by saying, Mr. Speaker Sir, that the 123 Agreement, as it stands, is unacceptable to the nation because it is deeply detrimental to India'svital and long-term interests.
And let me tell my friends in the government?and also our friends in the United States?that if we get a mandate again to serve this great nation ours, the BJP will renegotiate the deal by safeguarding India'sinterests.