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INDIA TODAY - The most widely read newsweekly in South Asia.
     CURRENT ISSUE DECEMBER 25, 2006
 
   GUEST COLUMN: YASHWANT SINHA
 

Against National Interest

The US has treated with contempt Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's assurances to Parliament

 
The Indo-US nuclear deal is against India's national interest. The Act passed by the US Congress has settled all doubts in this regard. According to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, this is only "an enabling measure" and not binding on us. He has advised us to wait for the bilateral 123 Agreement with the US. Earlier, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had asked us to wait for the "final product" of the US Congress. The goal posts stand shifted once again. Nothing could be more stupid. We are behaving like the proverbial ostrich which buries its beak in the sand before an approaching storm.

India's freedom to develop nuclear technology is being mortgaged to the US in perpetuity.

Solemn assurances by the prime minister to Parliament in August have been treated with contempt by the US Congress. His personal lobbying with the Senate majority leader has been in vain. Not even one of his assurances to Parliament has been taken on board by the US Congress. Consider this. The US legislation will not permit full civil nuclear cooperation with India: there is no assurance of uninterrupted fuel supplies for our future civilian reactors. In fact, the US will prevent others from offering the same to India in case it decides to withhold supplies. Further, India cannot reprocess the used fuel nor can Delhi ship it back to the US; the reporting and certification requirements by the US President to the US Congress have been tightened; India has been asked not to increase its fissile material production; the US retains the right to carry out its own end-use verification in addition to the inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); India's nuclear weapons programme will have to be thrown open for US scrutiny in the name of research with its National Nuclear Security Administration; India will have to unilaterally adhere to the obligations of Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Proliferation Security Initiative, the Australia group and the Wassenaar Arrangement; and, finally, India has been expressly forbidden from nuclear testing in the future, not even of the kind permitted by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

India's foreign policy is required to be congruent with the objectives of the US foreign policy. The immediate litmus test being Iran. We are required to actively participate in US efforts to dissuade, isolate and, if necessary, sanction and contain Iran for its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. The US President will report to the US Congress whether India is fully and actively participating in such efforts, measures the US government has taken to secure such participation, responses of the Government of India to such measures, and the measures Washington plans to take to secure India's full and active participation.

The sting is contained in the Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference which states "if civil nuclear commerce were to be seen, some years from now, as having in fact contributed to India's nuclear weapons programme, there could be severe consequences for nuclear cooperation, for US-India relation and for the worldwide nuclear non-proliferation regime". The US has never concealed that for Washington, the sole objective of this deal is non-proliferation and to cap, reduce and ultimately eliminate India's nuclear weapons capability. Energy security-based foolishly on imported reactors and imported fuel which could be cut-off at the slightest pretext-is our justification. In the case of Tarapur, the US had given us cast iron assurances of fuel supplies which they stopped after the nuclear tests of 1974 on the plea that their domestic law prevailed over the bilateral agreement. Perhaps, Manmohan Singh is strong enough to ensure that the bilateral agreement with India shall prevail over US domestic laws.

Through this deal, India shall mortgage to the US in perpetuity, for all times to come, its freedom to develop its nuclear technology and the independence of its foreign policy.

Why is Manmohan Singh doing it? As finance minister, he went down in history as a great reformer. As prime minister, he realised he would not be able to push economic reforms, dependent as he is on the Left. Therefore, he decided to leave his legacy in foreign policy. His initiative to install India as a permanent member of the UN Security Council has come to naught. His adventure to have an Indian as the UN Secretary-General failed miserably. His China and Pakistan policies have led to Beijing asserting its right over the whole of Arunachal Pradesh and Islamabad joining the ranks of the victims of terrorism. The Indo-US nuclear deal is his last gambit. He has attached his personal prestige to it. Manmohan Singh must succeed even if India fails.

As for the Left, despite opposing the deal, it will soon find some Hegelian dialectic to get out of a tight corner. The people of India must now come forward to save the country from its disastrous prime minister.

Yashwant Sinha is former external affairs minister of India.

 

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INDIA TODAY - The most widely read newsweekly in South Asia.
CURRENT ISSUE
DECEMBER 25, 2006
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Getting Personal

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Against National Interest

Ending the Isolation

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Life After 14k Surviving The Ride

Dancing On Safe Ground

The Grassland's Great Hope

Outclassed, Outrun

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