On Rewarding India
12 September, 2005
By Shamsa Ishfaq
According to a White House communiqué yesterday, Bush agreed that "India should acquire the same benefits and advantages" as other states with advanced nuclear technology. Bush vowed to "work to achieve full civil nuclear energy cooperation with India". So far these benefits are restricted to P5 - the US, Russia, China, Britain and France - that are recognized as legitimate nuclear states under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).
USA's decision to allow India to acquire the same facilities accorded to a member-state of NPT without signing the agreement seems to be a virtual recognition of India as a nuclear weapon state. This joint US-India accord calls for the first formal restructuring of the nuclear non-proliferation regime in the last 30 years to accommodate India's desire for acceptance as a nuclear power. The accord will enable India to secure international help for its civilian nuclear reactors while retaining its nuclear arms. India can now also obtain nuclear fuel for the Tarapur reactors. Under the terms of the deal, India agreed to place its civilian nuclear facilities - but not its nuclear weapons arsenal - under international monitoring and pledged to continue to honor a ban on nuclear testing. In return, it would have access, for the first time, to conventional weapons systems and to sensitive U.S. nuclear technology that can be used in either a civilian or a military program. It could also free India to buy the long-sought-after Arrow Missile System developed by Israel with U.S. technology.
President Bush's agreement has reversed decades of U.S. policies designed to discourage countries from developing nuclear weapons. The agreement does not call for India to cease production of weapons-grade plutonium and hence enables her to expand its nuclear arsenal. Moreover, the communiqué has raised the concerns in quarters of US administration that the deal with India, which built its atomic arsenal in secret, would undermine efforts to confront Iran and North Korea over their nuclear programs. There are also concerns about the acceptance of agreement in Pakistan, a key ally in the U.S. campaign against al Qaeda.
Strategic analysts opine that this move is part of a White House strategy to accelerate New Delhi's rise as a global power, which presents herself a counterweight to China. As a matter of fact, the record shows that since its inception, India has had troubled relations with almost all its neighbours and counterbalancing China is a hollow slogan. India has been failed to forge friendly relations with its neighbours. Her fast developing trade relations with China at one hand and work on US policy of containment of china on the other reflects her dual standards.
Analysts fear that although Indian PM has expressed that India is a responsible nuclear state but it is also a known fact that she has been engaged in covert nuclear proliferation activities for years. And despite the accord has signed, there is the possibility of nuclear leakages and illegal transfer of sensitive technology by India.
India needs support from both the houses of the US congress for adaptation of this deal. There are fair chances that deal will run into a problem with congress and also the 40 members of nuclear supplier group on the ground that it would undermine Washington's credibility and even-handedness when dealing with countries like North Korea and Iran.
Some factions of US administration are already saying that rewarding India after it tested nuclear weapons would be unfair to countries like Japan and Brazil that had the ability to conduct nuclear tests but refrained from doing so out of respect for international non-proliferation regimes.
The reservations of concerned quarters are genuine and demand from Bush administration to review their policy of exceptionalism. This reward to India without consent of both houses of US Congress and 40 members of nuclear suppliers group will likely to increase the dangers of nuclear holocaust.