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No, Indians were out-negotiated as usual


There is the pithy statement contrasting “committed” and “involved”: when you have bacon and eggs for breakfast, the chicken is involved, but the pig is surely committed. Similarly, in this much-ballyhooed agreement, the United States is involved, but India is committed. This is the essential asymmetry and unfairness of the deal. Indians accept the obligations of the P-5 (five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council), but get none of the rights.

For, everything that the Americans have said is weasel-worded: “we’ll work with Congress and allies to do xyz,” whereas Indians have obligated themselves to do things. The Congress and its pack of baying non-proliferation ayatollahs will not agree to anything substantive. But India will open its kimono to intrusive inspections by the IAEA. Note: The last time there were intrusive inspections, they invaded the country: Iraq. The IAEA finds weapons of mass destruction on demand.

The Americans are also not exactly well known for adhering to treaties. They reneged on a treaty to supply Tarapur with nuclear fuel. Remember the Kyoto Accord, the Law of the Sea, the International Criminal Court? The United States signs things and then refuses to bring them into force, hiding behind the fig-leaf of a recalcitrant Congress. They shrug, “You know the Congress and tough guys like Bernie Sanders, what can we do?”

The only dim ray of hope I see is that Indians could reciprocate: “We couldn’t get the thing ratified in Parliament, very sorry. You know those difficult people like Sitaram Yechuri.” That would be one way to slime out of inconvenient treaties. But Indian negotiators wouldn’t dream of such behavior, for that might jeopardize any plum future U.N. sinecures.

The United States also cannot unilaterally declare India to be a nuclear power, even if they by some remote chance wanted to. The Non-Proliferation Treaty has carved in stone the nuclear apartheid between the Gang of Five and everyone else. To change the 1978 U.S. Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act is hard enough. Now imagine convincing China, mortal foe and author of the infamous Security Council Resolution 1172, which harshly and insultingly condemned India’s 1998 blasts.

Separating civilian and military nuclear facilities, accepting IAEA inspection of all civilian facilities, adhering to the Additional Protocol: all this is more than the P-5 do. It is a total cave-in by innocents out-negotiated by canny Americans. This is “cap, rollback, and eliminate” by other means: long the mantra of the State Department. India has given up its leverage for nothing in return. This is normal for Nehruvians: this is exactly what they did in giving up valuable treaty rights in Tibet to the Chinese in return for absolutely nothing.

New century, new Himalayan blunder. In 50 years, it’ll be obvious why this deal was a disaster..

Rajeev Srinivasan wrote this opinion from New Delhi.


Yes, it introduces India to the elite nuclear club


Barely has the ink dried on the recent India-U.S. joint statement about civilian nuclear cooperation; the doomsday prophets have gone back to do what they know best—lamenting India’s alleged loss of sovereignty.

How about a reality check to allay their fears? To understand the implications, let’s briefly review the basics of the agreement.

Under the agreement, India needs to place its civilian nuclear facilities—but not its nuclear weapons arsenal—under international monitoring. India needs to honor a ban on nuclear testing and can successfully access U.S. expertise and technical support to pursue peaceful interests. This agreement may also enable India to buy Israel’s long-sought-after Arrow Missile System.

Does more access to expertise and weaponry translate into losing sovereignty? No more than India remains a British colony because of its continuing love affair with cricket. The doomsday prophets needs to remember that disagreements between members of the P-5 seldom result in military intervention or mutual sanctions—haven’t Russia and the United States disagreed on nuclear options without annexing each other?

That India is not being asked to explicitly desist from ceasing production of weapons-grade plutonium constitutes proof of the pudding. Wouldn’t attempts to cut India to size begin with limiting weaponry? But it is true that the entire fuel cycle, including thorium fast-breeders, will be controlled by the Additional Protocol.

India, the global power in the making, needs to walk the walk and talk the talk. The India-U.S. agreement legitimizes India’s presence in the international nuclear club after three decades of insulting and insolent treatment. No longer will the Damocles’ sword of arbitrary economic or political sanctions threaten India. Miffed looks and a slap on the wrists will be the harshest of “punitive measures.”

On the positive side, the program allows India access to a wholly new dimension of critically needed electric power. Given that India’s rivers have been fully exploited and experiments with alternate forms of energy have not proved adequate, nuclear power is truly manna from the heavens to help India realize its dream of becoming a manufacturing power. Many scientists concur on at least 25 percent of India’s electric power originating from nuclear power.

Contrary to any loss of suzerainty, India is on the threshold of becoming America’s co-pilot in plotting Asia’s future.

The fallacy about loss of sovereignty is best challenged by China’s experience. Promoted by Kissinger as a counterweight to Russia, China metamorphosed from a permanently hobbled dragon in the 1970s into a Superman by 2000, an entity so powerful that it threatens its erstwhile mentor. The American indifference to Tibetan suffering speaks eloquently to concerns over losing sovereignty.

India has finally emerged from the shadows to take center stage; let us therefore rejoice.

Toronto-based S. Gopikrishna writes on issues pertinent to India and Indians.