Yes, and good riddance too

By RAJEEV SRINIVASAN

As expected, various non-proliferation ayatollahs in the United States have implied that it is because of Bush’s proposed nuclear agreement with India that North Korea dared embark on its own test. This of course is a complete canard, but blaming the innocent is a popular spectator sport in Washington.

It is abundantly clear that this so-called North Korean test is a Chinese statement. The Koreans got their nukes from China via Pakistan, while the Pakistanis got their missile technology from China via Korea. A very cozy little arrangement, indeed! This gives China plausible deniability, of course.

Now China, being the sole provider of food and military supplies to North Korea, can get the Koreans to do whatever they want. Thus, they wanted North Korea to go nuclear: and China is giving a warning to various countries, particularly South Korea, Japan, and the United States, and peripherally Russia and India.

After the initial hue and cry died down, everyone has adjusted to the fait accompli that North Korea also has nuclear weapons. After all, it is clear that nobody has much leverage over the North Koreans other than the Chinese, and despite posturing, China has visibly enjoyed the discomfiture of Japan and the United States, and they also pointedly defanged the U.N. Security Council resolution censuring North Korea. This is in marked contrast to their writing the harshly worded resolution ordering India to de-nuclearize in 1998.

The U.S.-India nuclear deal was a pipe dream for the Bush administration to hang their hat on, to claim at least some success in their generally disastrous foreign policy. See, they wanted to say, we have permanently hobbled India’s nuclear capability. And naturally, a number of politicos in India have colluded with this naked attempt to contain India.

Now that the Republicans have lost big-time in the November elections (and I write this before the elections and predict that this will be the outcome) and Bush is a lame duck, the chances of him being able to ramrod this bill through Congress are virtually nil. This, despite Indian politicians’ best efforts to bend over backwards to accommodate any and all American demands.

I have felt queasy from day one about this so-called deal. I would be delighted if the unintended consequence of China’s ploy with Korea exploding a Chinese bomb turns out to be that the crippling U.S.-India deal goes kaput. It is no deal, it is abject surrender of India’s sovereignty: it gives up India’s nuclear capability in return for … nothing!

Another delicious potential result of the Chinese-North Korean bomb would be if the Japanese decide to go overtly nuclear, particularly with Indian co-operation. In one fell swoop, China would have seriously eroded its own security!

Rajeev Srinivasan wrote this opinion from Bengalooru.

No, they won’t affect the U.S.-India pact

By SUGRUTHA RAMASWAMI

I simply love North Korea these days. In Tamil, we have a delightful phrase, koothula komaali, a clown in a show, who has neither a conceived part within the main theme nor any planned independent items to perform, but rather prances around the arena doing his own stuff, irrespective of and irrelevant to whatever else is happening onstage. And I always love such a komaali act, it is entertainment par excellence and a celebration of absurdity.

The politics, policies, diplomacy, and military aggression of the United States after 9/11 can only be termed mysterious at best and bizarre at worst. Even as the United States holds the world’s center stage with its destroy-Iraq mission and we-love-Pakistan melodrama, here comes North Korea playing the Jerry to the mighty Tom, a Tom who really is not interested in playing games with Jerry at this time, for various reasons. So the ignored Jerry tries to catch Tom’s attention with his antics, so very much like the komaali. Why, North Korea has been providing much-needed comic relief in this otherwise high-stakes, macabre real-life drama being staged by the United States.

Does North Korea’s nuclear test make an ounce of difference? No, and least of all to the U.S.-India nuclear deal. It is not news that North Korea possesses nuclear weapons. Has it been a secret that they acquired such weapons and the requisite delivery capabilities illegally, clandestinely, and by blatantly flouting the non-proliferation agreements that they were voluntary signatories to?

Was it ever classified knowledge that North Korea does not care for the non-proliferation treaties, whether it is acquiring or distributing nuclear technology and materials? Does the Korean test therefore have any value other than their usual naughty-Jerry act that we have by now come to expect periodically?

On the other hand, the fledgling U.S.-India nuclear deal has been running into problems ever since it was mooted. The deal is a first of its kind. The Bush administration has to jump through more hoops in Congress to get it approved than when it wanted to invade Iraq! The deal will wind along its karmic course, with the usual detractors and champions hedging their positions, while the two governments play poker.

Oh, haven’t the naughty North Koreans put another spoke in the already laboring wheel? Sure, they have provided another lame excuse for the opponents of the deal, but when has it ever been rewarding to address lame excuses seriously? Excuses are exactly that, excuses, and don’t particularly need any good reason.

But there are enough good reasons on both sides for the deal to sail through, despite the class clown acting up.

Sugrutha Ramaswami is an IT professional in New Jersey.

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