Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Indo US Deal Loses its Sheen

The day the Nuclear Suppliers Group(NSG) granted unique waiver to India to trade in Nuclear related technology & fuel irrespective of its signing of NPT & CTBT, India has made its way to nuclear group through backdoor. India can be termed as only country which is recognised as nuclear weapon state, allowed to trade in nuclear material without signing NPT & CTBT. So technically India while can have all privileges of nuclear weapon state but is not bound by any law as other states are.

There is one more implication of the NSG waiver granted to India. India now does not NEED Indo-US civilian nuclear deal. The main objective of India entering into deal with India was

  • Able to trade in nuclear material so that we can import uranium for our power plants and the same time divert own uranium for weapons program. ( I had discussed this earlier also)
  • Able to import dual use technology for our own purpose military & civilian prupose.
  • Our Military nuclear programme should be legitmised.
  • Our chances of getting Permanent membership of security council is increased.

To get that we required two things to happen

  1. Recognition of separate programme for civilian & military nuclear programme (approval from IAEA was required for it)
  2. Trading in nuclear related material (NSG waiver did that for us)
Now once that is done, the question is does India need Indo-US deal. The answer to that is not so simple but we can live without it also. It was possible to live without all these steps also but after these steps the need of the deal is diminished though not demolished.

We shoulod realise that post NSG waiver, we can trade in nuclear related material with any country so now we are not dependent on US for nuclear supplies. The objective of US in this deal was multipronged:

  1. It convinced its own public that they are doing this for non-proliferation.
  2. A counter balance to China in Asia.
  3. Creating business & jobs in their non-existent nuclear supplies companies in US.

Russia & France are ready to enter into such deal with India at any moment. We can even use our demand potential and NSG waiver as bargaining chip while entering into deals with lesser know countries for perpetual supply of nuke material. these would include counties like poland, angola.

But there lies some risks in not operationalising 123 deal viz.

  1. US can exert pressure on smaller countries to not trade with India.
  2. India's entry into exclusive security council will be in-ordinately delayed.
  3. We can expect US to exert influence on all activities with India.
  4. If it can extract waiver from NSG, then it can possibly get it reversed also.

In this situation what is the path that India should undertake.

If India enters into deal with US, the Hyde Act can create problems for us in the later years to come. As we tie up for fuel supplies with US, they can then easily exert influence us on any policy matter as our energy would be dependent on their supplies.

India is in such a situation where it does not need 123 deal but at the same time cannot deny to enter into deal.

The course of action should be as follows:

  1. As elections are round the corner, delay the ratification of 123 deal. Let that ratification get spilled over to next coming government.
  2. Advance talks with other countries for similar deals (maxim - "Do not put all your eggs in one basket")
  3. After ratification, delay making policies for private participation in nuclear sector.
  4. Allow immediately imports of dual use technology. (irrespective of any situation , the technology once acquired cannot be taken back, we can always copy it and make claims of being indigenous)
  5. Allow dual use tech in renewable energy resources & other high tech areas. ( we should use that to develop technology to do nuclear testing simulations, so that we do not need to test other weapon ever again).
These are some of the steps that India can take.

Now it is upto our leadership to decide the path to undertake.

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