Monday, November 12, 2007

Indo-US Nuke Deal In Line of Fire

Indo-US Nuke Deal In Line of Fire
Syed Ali Mujtaba

“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is a traitor who has betrayed the nation by continuous bluffing on the Indo-US nuclear deal. Had an American President done that he would have been removed, if it were in China they would have settled it with one bullet in his head.” These comments are made by the NDA convener and opposition leader George Fernandes.

Fernandes comments have sparked off a fierce debate in the country, whether Indo-US nuclear deal is in India’s interest or it undermines the national sovereignty.

It seems there is tug of war going on between those who want the status quo and those who like to move on to a new equilibrium vis-à-vis Indo- US civil nuclear deal.

For the last forty years or so, the so called civil nuclear complexes in India are nothing but a fancy work place. There is no accountability, no performance appraisal and every thing is brushed under the carpet in the name of defence establishment. What is happening behind these iron curtains no one knows. The general impression is such are happy places where people are paid to while away time.

Such people when see the prospects of being put on the line of fire are having nightmares. They simply do not want any change and like the status quo to prevail. They are the ones who are tom-toming about the national security in jeopardy.

The opposition politicians see in this a leaver to pull down the government. They are crying hoarse to scrap the Indo- US nuke deal in order to come to power.

India has constructed 24 massive infrastructure complexes for producing nuclear energy. These complexes are white elephants rotting like junk yards. In the last 40 years or so they have not lit a single village by the nuke energy while claiming to make India self reliant in energy.

The choices before India is two, either to carry on like the way its going on or do some thing to put these huge industrial nuclear complex in to operation. If India wants to run them to its full capacity then it has no other go but to take help from outside. In this context there is nothing fundamentally wrong about the nuke-deal with the US.

The negotiation on the civil nuclear deal with US commenced shortly after Pokhran II blast. The Vajpayee government in principle had given its consent to this framework after ‘Strobe Talbot- Jaswant Singh’s talk on ‘Engaging India.'

At that point of time George Fernandes the Defense Minister of India never shouted about the "imperialist design" opposing the NDA government’s move to make friends with US.

Indian politicians have two faces, one in power and other out of power and George Fernandes is no exception.

Prime Minister Manmohan Sigh concurred with the NDA framework and has carried forward the negotiations left over by its predecessor. He had taken a consensus on this issue in the Parliament. He had the mandate to open up the complexes on the 60 - 40 ratio.

In real term it means 14 nuke complexes will be opened up for international regulation and will be used for producing civil nuclear energy. The remaining 12 would be bared from international inspection and remain bomb storage if not bomb making factories.

If we see this in the context of NPT and CTBT, then India has got huge concessions becoming an exceptional case in world’s global nuclear proliferation regime. What else it wants?

In last 40 years or so what these complexes have produced is nothing but bombs. We already have stock piled more than 300 to 500 bombs and this would take care India's both denfence as well as expansionist designs.

Now the question is how many more bombs we want? What is the threat perception? Is the threat perception going to deteriorate or improve? I don’t foresee any use of bombs the way we are pursuing our regional and global foreign policy. Then why do we cry to have the sovereign right for having Pokhran III. There is little rationale to scrap the nuke deal on this pretext.

The nuke deal has been negotiated with the help of Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran. He was later on assisted by the current Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon. At every stage of the negotiation country's top nuclear scientist have been consulted. The have weighed the options fully well knowing that each and every clause can not be in the Indian interest gave their consent to sign the deal.

The nuke deal is fairly a decent proposition for India given the fact that the country would face huge energy deficit in the coming years. In such situation can beggars become the choosers?

Those finding fault with the Indo-US nuclear deal don’t want India to ever utilize its resources to its potential. The want the status quo to prevail and India continue to remain in a state of nuclear limbo. Such self proclaimed nationalist should not be allowed to run amuck when India at sixty stands at the cross roads of history.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at

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