Nuclear Deal: Stop making apocalyptic predictions

Sunday, September 7, 2008

If your mind is preoccupied with sensationalized N-Deal news stories on news channels, you will never be able to draw conclusions on Indo-US nuclear deal. For common man, the deal itself is quite complex to understand. Media should have behaved more responsibly to educate the citizen about this deal. Instead, media has prevaricated positive outcomes and focused it's debate on controversial issues like "Right to test", "Sovereignty issues" etc. which of course are hypothetical cases and have no real significance. "India could test its bomb tomorrow if it wants to - the deal is not yet operative - thereby ending the voluntary moratorium put in place by the Vajpayee government of 1998.[Ref-3]"

I had earlier answered most of the basic questions related to N-Deal, please find them here and here. 'Text of US Government reply to Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman' suggests that US has negotiated the deal in bad faith. I agree, but those scenarios are hypothetical. We "should stop making apocalyptic predictions based on worst-case scenarios (like 'India will test', or 'India will become a client state') and reflect a little about the kind of cooperative relationship India and the NSG might have with each other in the years ahead.[Sidharth Varadarajan]"

There are four important questions which have given substantial basis for making this deal controversial.

1. Can India test nuclear bomb after operationalization of N-Deal? Should India do so?
India already has enough nuclear bombs to blow up the entire world [unofficial, but it's conspicuous]. We need three things, (i) The Bomb, (ii) The bomb delivery system (for carrying and dropping the nuclear weapon), and (iii) Command and Control systems (to guide the delivery mechanism). India has all of these. So, even if we completely give up testing nuclear weapon, we have every right to continue improving our existing missiles, delivery systems and command & control mechanism. No one can stop us doing that. So, even without testing a single nuclear bomb, our existing stockpile of nuclear arsenal can destroy anyone.

On the other hand, what if China or Pakistan test nuclear bomb? Of course India can still go ahead and test (nuclear weapon) under such circumstances without terminating the deal. Article 13 and 14 of 123-Agreement explicitly ask the parties (India and US) to 'consider the circumstances' and provides room for peaceful negotiations before terminating the deal. So under these circumstances US will never be foolish enough to terminate the fuel supply. Why? US can never compromise on the issue of 'balance of power' in the region. It always look forward for India to balance the Chinese power.

Another case, even if India test unilaterally like in 1998, why should it do so without any reason? India has a commendable track record of non-proliferation and any government at the center (UPA or NDA) will continue to recognize the importance of non-proliferation for the sake of peace in the region. Why? Because India always prefer peace and we never want to be belligerent. So, BJP's views on 'right to test' are naive and baseless. "Their opposition is a case of sour grapes and nothing else."

2. Will this deal put our sovereignty at stake?
How? Why will this agreement bring billions to their knees? If India conducts nuclear test and US stops fuel supply, will India's sovereignty be jeopardized? Imagine a hypothetical scenario. Say, India conducts nuclear test. US will stop fuel supply and ask India to return the fuel. Also assume that, US will try to force other countries not supply fuel to India. What are the possible consequences? India might have to face economic sanctions from various countries (of course only from US allies), Indian economy will be affected severely. And say, in the worst case, US wage a war on India. Don't you think there are countries like Russia who can come to India's risk? Don't you think at least one out of 45 countries (that includes Russia) in Nuclear Suppliers Group will come forward and supply fuel to India? Don't you think US will be under tremendous pressure to negotiate and resolve the issue peacefully? So, unnecessarily creating such hypothetical situations to block the Nuclear Deal sounds extremely quixotic.

3. The question of Non-Proliferation and disarmament.

I feel the best answer to this question is here.
"Those who dream about universal disarmament should understand one thing - the only reason the world is safe today is because most countries have nuclear weapons - the US knocked Japan out of World War II by nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the cold war remained a cold one because the US and the USSR combined had enough bombs to kill every person on the planet hundred times over. While this does not mean that nuclear technology should be distributed like sweetmeats in a fair, at least take a look at who you are talking about. Does Manmohan Singh look or act like Kim Jong Il? Or is India distributing nuclear technology to every one who is ready to pay for it - like Pakistan did? New Zealand, Austria and the like can sit comfortably in the NSG and pass judgment on India, but these countries don’t exactly lie in China’s backyard (countries that do, are protected by the United States). I am sure they will change their mind when that happens.[source]"
4. Does 123-Agreement override Hyde Act?
Indian government says Yes. US says, 123-Agreement is in full conformity with Hyde Act. One must remember that, "international treaties cannot be overruled by any domestic law, unless the treaty itself allows the countries limited rights to do so." If the United States say that the Hyde Act would prevail over the 123 agreement, India can easily ammend The Atomic Energy Act of 1962 to prohibit re-export of meterial or equipment if it affects the functioning of domestic nuclear plants. So, "If the United States say that the Hyde Act would prevail over the 123 agreement on return of material, India can claim that it cannot do so because it has law of its own that does not permit re-export of material or equipment if it affects the functioning of the nuclear plants[The Hindu]."

Some section of the Media and opposition parties must understand that Indian negotiators have not "compromised" on National security and sovereignty to get the deal done. They have just "convinced" 45 nations (NSG) based on India's commendable track record of Non-Proliferation, Disarmament, Voluntary Moratorium on nuclear tests, and willingness to resolve the issues peacefully. Before we say 'something' is controversial, we must first try and understand that 'something'. Otherwise, our argument carries no waightage. So, its not fair to say N-Deal is good or bad based on biased viewpoints. Before we say the deal is good or bad, we must verify the facts with trusted sources. Unfortunately, media is prevaricating the truth and busy in sensationalizing the 'confusing aspects'. The opponents of this deal are still underestimating India's underlying potential to influence decisions at International level. When are we going to believe that we are 'completely' sovereign and Independent? When are we going to believe that no one can take away our sovereignty?

Original Documents of Indo-US Nuclear deal:
  1. India-US Joint Statement - July 18, 2005, Washington.
  2. India-US Joint Statement - March 2, 2006, New Delhi.
  3. Implementation of India-US Joint Statement- India's Separation Plan.
  4. Text of Hyde Act
  5. 123 Agreement between India and US, August 3, 2007.
  6. IAEA Safeguards Agreement text, July 9, 2008.
  7. A secret letter which created controversy - on Washington Post
  8. Text of US Government reply to Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman
  9. Text of the final NSG waiver for India, September 06, 2008
Reference Articles:
  1. Revelations unravel hype and spin, Devastating blow to nuclear deal, The Bush-Berman bombshell and the ghosts of Tarapur - The Hindu.
  2. N-Deal discussions on Sidharth Varadarajan's (Deputy Editor, The Hindu) blog.
  3. The nonexistent “right to test” 
  4. Nuclear deal: A Chronology.
  5. Indo-US Nuclear deal - Wikipedia.
Read Also:
  1. Left's contempt for change is incongruous in a country shouting Chak De India!
  2. Breaking the impasse
  3. Left Should Look Right!
  4. Romancing India with a Vision!

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This work by Manjunath Singe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License. The views and opinions expressed in this work are strictly those of the author and do not represent his employer's views in anyway.