1,2,3: Nuke the Deal Indo-US Accord Simply Unacceptable

True, this is an era of atomic renaissance and India cannot afford to miss the global nuclear bus. But the world’s largest democracy cannot simply put at stake its sovereignty.

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True, this is an era of atomic renaissance and India cannot afford to miss the global nuclear bus. But the world’s largest democracy cannot simply put at stake its sovereignty.
Manmohan Singh has taken a U-turn on the controversial 123 agreement for political reasons, not because of the general concern that India might lose its nuclear independence by entering into the deal. Thanks to an unbreakable Communist opposition to the pact, Sonia Gandhi, who last week blasted the “enemies of progress” in a Haryana rally, has changed her tune to prevent her UPA government’s downfall.
While it is good news that Manmohan, who had jeopardised his political credibility on the agreement, has publicly evoked the possibility that the deal might not go ahead, it is unfortunate that his government failed to realise how badly the accord could harm the country’s nuclear freedom.
The reason behind a sudden change of heart is the Congress cannot afford to let Narendra Modi take political mileage out of the deal in the upcoming Gujarat elections. Exploitation of the Ramsethu (non)issue by Lal Krishna Advani is another factor. Although the Congress has robbed the Saffron brigade of a readymade issue, the party managers should have understood in the beginning itself that it would be difficult for any self-respecting Indian to approve of the deal. It is beyond imagination to place the country’s civilian nuclear reactors under UN safeguards as a first step in making the deal operational.
The Manmohan administration had been hoping to conclude an agreement with the IAEA by the end of this month, so it could seek the approval of the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group and then get a final approval from the US Congress before the end of George Bush’s administration. But keeping in view the anti-US and anti-123 sentiment in the country, it would be foolish on part of the UPA to go ahead with talks with IAEA. Mohammed El Baradei has already said that approving the accord is up to the Indian government.
Indian negotiators should have had a firm backbone to thrash out the deal on their own terms. As per the agreement, the US would terminate civilian nuclear cooperation if India conducted a nuclear test. This is completely unacceptable as it clearly dictates in which direction New Delhi’s foreign policy should move.
For the Indian nuclear programme to continue in a peaceful manner, future tests for having a minimum deterrent would be required. The US cannot dictate India as to what it should do with its peaceful nuclear programme. India is not Poland, Ukraine or Bulgaria. It is too big to play such a subservient role.
Another major concern is that following pact, inspectors from the US may be given access to India’s nuclear facilities. That would mean there is every chance of India’s nuclear secrets getting out and falling into the hands of the American establishment.
The great US gameplan is nobody’s secret. India’s immediate relevance to the US is its potential as a defence partner to further the US designs to contain China and wage the next conflict in Asia. War is essential part of the US economic survival. It opens various opportunities for its arms industry, financial institutions and defence establishments.
New Delhi’s growing proximity with Washington is not a good omen. Once India gets involved in the US strategic partnership, Indian troops will be forced to join Washington’s illegal wars of occupation all over the world. Indian blood is not cheap. It cannot be spilled at the sole pleasure of a foreign warmonger.
There is also a possibility of the screws being tightened if after Bush a Democrat, having different views on nuclear non-proliferation, came to power. India cannot have an uncertain nuclear future.
Sonia should be foresightful of the attempt to bind India to US strategic interests in the name of partnership. She should not repeat the mistakes the NDA government did, which led to their fall. What is good for a few thousand Brahmins of India is not necessarily good for the country of over a billion.
[The writer can be reached at [email protected]]