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India World

US India nuclear deal – The real reasons

The Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on an Official visit to USA on Tuesday held discussions with the US president Barack Obama regarding the remaining formalities towards the implementation of 2005 US-India nuclear cooperation deal.

Mr. Obama said that he had reaffirmed to the Prime Minister his administration’s “commitment to fully implement the US-India civil nuclear agreement” which he said would “increase American exports and create jobs in both countries.

In his remarks at the press conference, Dr. Manmohan Singh said “our strategic partnership should facilitate transfer of high technologies to India”.

Both the leaders by their pin pointed remarks have rightfully indicated the mutual benefit of the Nuclear treaty. While the treaty helps India to meet its long term energy needs, it also benefits USA creating opportunity to invest in the $150 billion market potential in Indian Energy sector. Economists are optimistic that this can be a catalyst to stabilize the US economy and thus the world economy too.

The benefits are highlighted to cool down the vocal critics in USA who advocate Non Proliferation of Nuclear weapons and pacify those in India who are  concerned about Sovereignty of the Indian nation.

It is argued that Non Proliferation is ensured since the treaty effectively differentiates between civil and military nuclear installations; the cooperation between USA (the signatory to NPT) and India (still preferring to stay outside NPT) in civil nuclear installations does not amount to proliferation. This is the message conveyed to the US Congressmen who oppose the treaty.

But can Indians believe that India has fallen to the dictates of USA just for the pressing energy needs of the growing population? The terms used by Dr Singh “strategic partnership” and “technology transfer” assume greater significance.

We have to see what is in between the lines and what is untold. The Indian democracy provides liberty to ruling party and their selected bureaucrats not to reveal some information under the pretext of national security. Particularly when the Prime Minister has a choice to appoint a close friend as National Security Adviser giving priority to confidentiality rather than merit, it does provide provisions for the nation to be misled along with the Prime minister.

In 1998 India tested (Pokhran II) a thermo-nuclear device which was hailed as grand success by the then BJP Government. But recently former DRDO Scientist associated with the nuclear test Dr. K. Santhanam opened a controversy by revealing that the test yield was only 20 to 25 kt against the target of 45 kt and no crater was formed at the site of the test. That means Pokhran II was only partially successful.

Unable to digest the revelation of truth, the National Security Adviser M.K.Narayanan tried to clarify that the Atomic Energy Commission was satisfied with the tests. Mr Narayanan asserted that

“As the NSA, I know what the DRDO is supposed to do and what it knows. I think he ( Dr. K.Santhanam) is not merely exaggerating, I think he is talking something which is horrific”

What M.K.Narayanan added was more horrific,

“We have thermonuclear capabilities. I am absolutely sure. We are very clear on this point. If you hit a city with one of these you are talking about 50,000 to 1,00,000 deaths,”

Mr Narayanan’s remarks lacked diplomacy or eloquence by mentioning the killing of thousands of people. Mr Narayanan also resorted to personal attack on the scientist and called Dr. Santhanam as a Maverick.

Santhanam retaliated ,

“I am a person from a nuclear background, who spent close to 16 years in Trombay, published articles in various journals. I was doing strategic analysis long before I came to Delhi. I may not be known to Narayanan but, if anything, I will add that Narayanan is a babe in the woods on nuclear matters. His career has been that of a cop and a spook.”

This was a public debate held in September 2009 which enlightened the media and public about the India’s nuclear capability. If we analyse the behavior of M.K.Narayanan in the Sri Lankan issue in which India supported Srilankan military in killing thousands of Tamils but denied any such support, we have strong reasons not to believe his words. After Pokhran II India proved to be a weak Nuclear force not enough to achieve a strategic balance with China. The signing of the nuclear pact with USA gives reason to believe that we are lagging behind in this field and need external support to get to where we want to be.

MK Narayanan employs the old method of hiding a full pumpkin in a rice serving  (The Tamil saying – Muzhu poosanikkai..). The Indian people seek a honest assessment of our strength and the strength of our enemy in issues of National security. We as a nation should be cognizant of our weakness which is the first step to achieving greater and adequate strength.

It is in this context that the 2005 US-India nuclear cooperation deal should be seen. India might have lost the hopes of attaining a credible nuclear deterrence in the near future and is compelled to have some cooperation with the countries having sophisticated technology for “transfer of technology”

China has developed close relationship with Pakistan in various areas including establishment of nuclear plant facilities. China has been succesful in building military facilities in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma and now in Sri Lanka. Such partnerships goes against the Indian security and therefore the treaty with USA is inevitable since it ensures a “strategic partnership” with a nation more powerful than China. India’s long time ally Nepal is in crossroads with the recent domestic changes. India also alienated the Tamil population that favoured secession from Sri Lanka ruining any possible influence in the region to gain a geo politcal advantage in the south.

Although the nuclear treaty is said to be applicable to Civilian Nuclear Installations, the Scientists who are going to implement Western technology shall be Indians and it may be impossible to prevent the transfer of the nuclear “Know-how” aiding indigenous nuclear technology in future at least to cater for the defense against China.

India can be assured of getting this deal done, since it is the economy that matters for USA, not the proliferation.

What is rarer to get than a Friendship
And a Stronger Shield against a Foe

( ThiruValluvar 781 )

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