Fallout of a Pregnant Deal
The text of the Indo-US agreement for operationalisation of the civil nuclear deal will be made public on 3rd August, 2007. The text of 123 agreement will be released simultaneously in New Delhi and in Washington as per an understanding between the two countries. The document will be put on the website of the Ministry of External Affairs for comments and a debate on the significant agreement. The agreement was approved by the Union Cabinet at the end of July 2007. It will be placed in Parliament when it meets for the monsoon session on August 10.
"A popular UN dictum states that negotiations can be considered successful if the parties are equally unhappy about the outcome. If any side is in jubilation, the agreement is likely to run into trouble," says T P Sreenivasan, a former member of the Indian Foreign Service, was India's ambassador to the United Nations, Vienna, and governor for India, International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna.
The agreement-under the ‘123’ section of the US Atomic Energy Act- that the US signs such cooperation agreements with other countries. India started its nuclear energy programme with international cooperation, including with the US, and in fact signed on to a Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963.
But later the US and the USSR pushed through a discriminatory Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty in 1970, after China had conducted her first nuclear test in 1964, India refused to join.
In 1971, the nuclear armed USS Enterprise sailed into the Bay of Bengal. India tested a nuclear device in 1974. US passed domestic laws to curtail the flow of all dual use technology to India. In 1975, Nuclear Suppliers Group was established to ensure that a global nuclear technology denial regime.
In 1998, India conducted five nuclear tests and declared herself a nuclear weapon state.
After the deal "there are still further steps to be taken and obstacles to be overcome. The Nuclear Suppliers Group has to be persuaded to make the same exception for India--will China agree, without some provision for Pakistan? India has to negotiate a sui generis India-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA for her civilian reactors, the US Congress has to approve the whole deal after it is completed, not necessarily a foregone conclusion. In India, opposition Parties, particularly the Left front have to concur-an uncertain eventuality", says Arundhati Ghose, formerly India's permanent representative/ambassador to the United Nations.
The Economist takes note of the Indo-US nuclear deal in a piece "America, India and the China bogey: A price too high" on August 2, 2007.
Here is the text of what it says:
The rise of China is no reason to trample on the non-proliferation regime
SLOWLY but seemingly relentlessly, America's deal with India on nuclear co-operation is wending its way to fruition. Two years after it was first announced in Washington by George Bush and Manmohan Singh, India's prime minister, the two countries have concluded negotiations on the terms of a technical agreement governing that co-operation. Both sides have claimed a great breakthrough. Nicholas Burns, the State Department official who has shepherded the deal through a maze of complications, called it “perhaps the single most important initiative in the 60 years of our relationship”. M.K. Narayanan, Mr Singh's national-security adviser, called it “a touchstone of a transformed bilateral relationship”. That once distant ties between America and India are warming up is indeed cause for celebration. But the heat also burns a huge hole in the global non-proliferation regime. As this newspaper has argued ever since the deal was first mooted, this is wrong, dangerous and unnecessary.
India first tested a nuclear device in 1974 (and became a declared nuclear-weapons state in 1998), inspiring the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which it, like Pakistan and Israel, never signed, and which its agreement with America perhaps fatally undermines. Yet in both Delhi and Washington, DC, opposition to the agreement tends to be dismissed as nitpicking that ignores a fundamental shift. India, which tilted Soviet-wards during the cold war, and remains by far the most powerful exponent of “non-alignment”, is entering a “strategic partnership” with America. The world's oldest democracy is at last going to be on the closest of terms with its largest democracy. What could make more sense, when, in the background, a potentially hostile, undemocratic Asian giant is rapidly gaining economic weight, and adding military muscle? To spare everybody's blushes, the rise of China is rarely mentioned as a factor in America's nuclear exception for India. But it is perhaps the fundamental impulse behind it.
Yet linking an end to India's nuclear isolation to the need for a strategic hedge against the rise of China makes no sense. No threat from China is either so great or so pressing. Its army is indeed modernising and spending lavishly. But as our briefing points out (see article), its military budget, in hard-currency terms, is not much bigger than France's. It remains decades away from being able to mount a credible military challenge to American pre-eminence. Moreover, whereas conflict remains possible, especially over Taiwan, China's priorities are internal: coping with the social and political dislocation that its economic revolution entails.
Nor is the nuclear prize going to buy undivided Indian loyalty. Mr Singh's leftist parliamentary allies will balk at anything that smacks of toeing America's line, and especially of jettisoning close ties with Iran, an American priority. Nehruvian “non-alignment” runs deep. Even Mr Singh—liberal economist and leader of the drive for better relations with America—felt compelled last year to call Fidel Castro “one of the greatest men of our times”. The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in government when India went nuclear in 1998, is stridently nationalist. Yashwant Sinha, the BJP's most recent foreign minister, has criticised the government already for giving America too much.
Conversely, the collapse of the deal is not going to fling India into any sort of embrace with China. Relations, still scarred by their war in 1962, are improving apace. China will soon be India's largest trading partner. But mutual suspicion and rivalry for resources mean that China will remain India's main strategic threat—the one it cited to justify the 1998 nuclear tests. No matter what nuclear stance America takes, India can be relied on to keep a healthy distance from China.
How to send all the wrong messages
China, then, is no justification for the damage America's nuclear concessions to India will do. They may yet trip at the remaining hurdles: in the American Congress; at the International Atomic Energy Agency; or the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group. The text of the latest agreement has not been made public. But from what has been said about it, it makes the damage far worse, by allowing India to reprocess American-supplied nuclear fuel, and by permitting it to build fuel stockpiles and hence withstand any future cut-off of supplies should it test another bomb. America claims that other aspirant nuclear powers, notably Iran, will learn the benefits of good behaviour—ie, of India's fairly respectable record on non-proliferation. More likely, however, the rewards India (and North Korea) are reaping will encourage countries without the bomb to strive to acquire one as soon as possible.