The American soft nuclear war against India

via HK Correspondent published on February 27, 2006

While the U.S globalization effort and president Bush’s visit to India continue to make headlines, little attention has been paid to America’s nonmilitary intervention in India. The nuclear deal Washington is forcing on to India will actually work against the long-term interests of India.

The nuclear deal India has agreed to sign with the U.S asks some searching questions about the true nature of the deal. What are the benefits for India? What is being done in the name of nuclear non-proliferation? Are the conditions beneficial for India?

Nuclear experts had warned that a hasty nuclear Agreement with the US will have enormous consequences for India. Several international diplomats concluded that India would be better off without this restrictive nuclear deal with the U.S.  Signing such a strategic agreement with unusual speed makes the “India-USA Nuclear Deal” highly questionable and even suspicious. Taking advantage of India’s inexplicable hurry and eagerness to comply, Washington has been mounting its renewed pressure to force India into giving more and more concessions in the nuclear deal – a seemingly concerted effort to severely restrict India’s nuclear freedom and capability.

Under these circumstances the Indian Parliament has the right and Responsibility to initiate debate and make necessary modifications. A thoroughly debated, examined and deliberated deal is essential for safeguarding India’s interests than the proposed deal that is haphazardly developed and hurriedly formalized.India should have studied the complex issues and protected the interests of India before surrendering to the American pressure. In the mean time, India could initiate an ambitious indigenous nuclear energy program capable of giving her technological and industrial expertise, increased employment opportunities and enhanced export potential, while safeguarding her strategic interests.

While thinking about the current debate on the India-U.S. nuclear Deal, it may be useful to recall how the United States invoked a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with another nuclear power – China amidst several crises between them. This deal took almost 13 years to materialize between the time that President Reagan submitted the agreement to Congress in 1985 and its implementation in 1998 under President Clinton. Such a long-drawn negotiation can offer several lessons for Indian negotiators.

    In 1984 under the Reagan administration when the dialog was Initiated, The United States sought China’s acceptance of IAEA safeguards on U.S. supplies under the agreement, but China adamantly refused to accept that condition.

    In 1989 after the Tienanmen crackdown, Congress suspended the Proposed nuclear cooperation with China.

    After the U.S.-P.R.C. summit in 1997, President Clinton Signed certifications on China’s nuclear nonproliferation policy and practices to implement the 1985 Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. The U.S thought, “It is in the U.S. national interest to consolidate and build on the progress China has made in the nonproliferation area”.

    In 2004, the NRC issued licenses for export of nuclear reactor components under the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, while the DOE authorized transfers of nuclear technology to China for its civilian nuclear power program based on the PRC’s “written nonproliferation assurances”.

    On February 28, 2005, Westinghouse Electric Company submitted a bid for a  contract to supply four commercial nuclear reactors in a deal underwritten by the U.S. Export-Import Bank. Two of the planned Chinese reactors would be built for the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Company at a site near Yangjiang, and the other two would be built at a site near Sanmen for the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC*), according to media reports. China already has four operating commercial reactors supplied by Areva, using updated versions of French reactors originally built under a now-expired Westinghouse license.

Currently, China has only two facilities under IAEA Safeguards with none of the imported reactors being on the safeguard list. The deal was signed with only paper assurances (agreed in ‘secret’) that China will not repeat its proliferation practices in the future.

Just as China was negotiating the deal with the United States in the 80s and 90s, it’s proliferation activities never showed signs of slowing down despite promises to the IAEA during this period (one thinks it still hasn’t stopped to date).

    New insights into the level of Chinese assistance to Pakistan came out in early 2004 as a result of on-site investigations into Libya’s Nuclear weapons program. As part of disarmament inspections, Libyan scientists, wrapped in plastic bags bearing an address in Islamabad, handed over early Chinese nuclear weapons designs to IAEA inspectors. Amazingly, American companies are now transferring reactors to the same company (albeit with a different name CNNC) which, deliberately supplied nuclear materials to Pakistan with financing  coming from the U.S. Ex-Im Bank!

Lessons for Indian negotiators:

The U.S.-China deal went through multiple administrations over a couple of decades – it was started by Nixon’s famous visit to China and finalized by Bush Jr. This, despite the many geo-political crises between the two countries during this period via the Tienanmen crackdown in 1989, the Taiwan strait crisis in 1996, the Belgrade Chinese embassy bombing by NATO forces in 1999, the American EP-3 spy Plane ‘collision incident’ in 2001 and of course the massive nuclear weapons proliferation to Pakistan and other states.

At this point the Indo-US negotiation is stalled, just days before President Bush’s visit. This despite India offering up to 14 of the 22 Indian reactors to be placed under safeguards. The U.S. wants more. Apart from demanding the fast-breeder reactors be safeguarded (which India strongly contested), the U.S. is also demanding an “in perpetuity” safeguard agreement. Since there are no “permanent friends”, there should be no clause, which “binds” Indian reactors under permanent safeguards. Should there be a need in the future, a resolution in the Indian parliament representing the will of the people should again enable to reclassify any reactor as ‘strategic’ (just as the United States has done). It should not under any circumstances be held hostage to the whims or sanction threats of the U.S. Congress or Senate run by special interest groups.With the Republicans controlling both the U.S House and the Senate, President Bush has the power to use his political capital to get through an initial agreement. The unelected non-proliferation ayatollahs and their noise machines can raise all the noise they want, but it cannot stop the Executive Power to act in national interest.

Some powerful lobbying by business interests will do the rest. Indian negotiators too shouldn’t be afraid to play the long-term game without being desperate for an immediate agreement – a now or never approach significantly weakens the Indian position. The fact that China managed to hold on to its proliferation interests (sic) without inviting neither sanctions nor declaring any important sites under safeguards shows that there is no need to hurry up on the deal if there are strategic compromises to be made. Till such a time arrives, India has all the coal to burn to satisfy its energy needs or even better start talking about some bold endeavors – that is when the Indian leadership show some spine and grow a pair of you-know-what as it once did.

India should remember that in the name of non-proliferation and globalization, the U.S overnment has a long history of offering stones and snakes to India. While the public has focused on the economic side of the U.S deal, there has been little debate about the abuses and restriction that may ensue after signing such deal. This is a soft war, an intervention with a smile. Behind the smile and friendly phrases, there are hidden dangers.

It is time for the Indian public; the media, think tanks, journalists and political leaders to take a firm stand against the broader imperialistic intervention against the best interests of India.


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