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Mainstream, Vol XLVI No 39

Manmohan Outsources Political Sovereignty

Thursday 18 September 2008, by Sandhya Jain

Some things are scandalously evident in the current nuclear tamasha in the Capital, even to a non-specialist like this writer.

One, the drama over India getting the so-called waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group was totally engineered by the West. The purpose was to heighten tensions in New Delhi and make it agree to script changes which would not be taken to the Union Cabinet, the Parliament where votes had to be purchased for the government to survive July 22 in order to clinch the Indo-US nuclear (slave) treaty, or made known to the people of India. The waiver now will mean whatever the Americans say it means, and we can dismiss the verbosity of UPA spokespersons with the contempt they deserve.

It is still unclear what has been waived, other than the American self-imposed embargo on n-reactor and uranium sales to India, which its own nuclear lobby was chafing at. Yet it is pertinent that the day the waiver came through, NDTV sought the views of Daryl G Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association of America. Reacting to the brouhaha over the “letter leak”, he said there was clarity in Washington about the deal and he was compelled to admit that the Indian criticism that Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) had been telling lies to the nation was true! He was, of course, quickly cut off, and Salman Khurshid of the Congress made a brief statutory denial! If only it was that simple.

Two, the Manmohan Singh regime completely surrendered India’s political sovereignty to the United States at a major international forum by letting Washington take over the negotiations with Western countries opposing the waiver, and forcing Beijing to withdraw the unexpected hand revealed at Vienna.

This should be a matter of deep shame to all Indians, but sadly the matter has not got the attention it deserves. Why did the UPA Government not let the waiver decision be postponed till Indian diplomats could persuade all member-countries to come on board? In what way did this regime’s survival depend on the nuclear deal? This question deserves an answer.

Worse, to analysts who understand the Chinese psyche, the momentary retreat does not demonstrate the superior diplomacy of President George Bush. It, in fact, signals Beijing’s intention to seriously unravel the current nuclear architecture of the world, which may not be a bad thing.

As of now, Beijing has hinted that Pakistan deserves a similar deal. It would be difficult for an Indian nationalist to agree with this. Yet anyone with half a brain can see that Pakistan has demonstrably more friends who will de facto help it in its nuclear quest; indeed, it got there thanks to the United States and China!

Iran will now find a friend in Beijing, especially if New Delhi persists in its suicidal servitude towards Washington. Finally, what has gone totally unnoticed in the Indian media in recent weeks is the fact that North Korea has withdrawn its decision to rollback its nuclear programme! In other words, there is going to be proliferation in Asia.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not even begun to think that if Korea acquires the bomb (which it will, thanks again to China), then Japan cannot lag behind. Tokyo already has enough fissile material to do the needful—it needs only to rediscover its Samurai ethos. More pertinently, it is being quietly wooed by both its Russian and Chinese neighbours! Does New Delhi even know? South Block is totally unable to see the emerging trends in the neighbourhood and to discuss Euro-Central-and-Asian security and prosperity in a paradigm guaranteed by Russia, China, India and Japan.

Third, surrender does not pay. It is a fitting humiliation—and divine justice for grovelling before the White House—that Australia has refused to sell uranium until India signs the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty! And why not—if New Delhi can stoop so low, why not a little bit lower?

Fourth, BJP President Rajnath Singh is right when he says that the Indo-US nuclear deal has no benefits for India. Regardless of the price at which the waiver was secured at Vienna, no atomic fuel will be available before 2020—a good twelve years away! Then, the investment of several thousand crores of rupees will not yield nuclear energy amounting to more than six per cent of the national energy requirement, so the deal is to divert taxpayers’ money for other purposes.

Fifth, the Bush Administration’s “secret letter” made it clear that the real motive behind Washington securing the NSG waiver for India was the “likely economic benefits of this partnership” to the American private sector! Yet, just as the Army has a country in Pakistan, so the Corporate Sector has a Government in America—the people do not count in either country, notwithstanding the forms of government. The nuclear deal is the brain-child of the dying nuclear industry of America which needs the Indian market to rejuvenate itself. So, some years down the line, we can expect kickbacks scandals in this area as well.

RATHER than bank on a regime proved to be lying to the Indian people, I would rely upon nuclear scientist Dr P.K. Iyengar, who unequivocally states that nuclear tests are imperative to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent. Dr Iyengar refutes the view that computer simulation is enough to test the validity of an atomic weapon, pointing out that when we carry out tests of new aircraft before handing it over to users, we cannot deliver a nuclear bomb without testing! India can’t rely upon computer simulation after just six tests. America can do it as it has conducted over 2000 nuclear tests; Russia has made 1000 tests and France nearly 300. Dr Iyengar rightly queries the voluntary moratorium on n-weapon testing by former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee after the May 1998 tests, when Pakistan and China made no such moves.

As of now, it seems the only genuine opposition to the nuclear surrender is by the Left parties; the BJP’s dominant faction has been speaking from both sides of its mouth. It has supported New Delhi’s utterly undesirable hostility towards friendly Teheran, supported a strategic alliance with Washington (which means shameful subordination of the type witnessed at Vienna where America took over New Delhi’s job), and failed to tell us what it is supposed to be opposing in the deal.

It is inexplicable why BJP Chief Ministers were not present to manage their State MPs on July 22, when it was known that money was flowing around. Why did the party not do its own sting operation and release the tapes directly to the media, as it did once in Chhattisgarh? Finally, the party must explain why it let the trust vote be held the same evening, when common sense dictated that it should have stalled the House till investigations in the cash-for-votes were over or the tapes telecast by all channels.

CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat is right that the task ahead is to se that a new government comes to power and terminates the 123 Agreement. The truth is that the full picture has still not emerged regarding the “continuous concessions” India made in Vienna over the past three days, which virtually amount to secret clauses in a treaty. What we do know is that India has accepted restrictions on transfer of sensitive technology, including technology for reprocessing and enrichment. Thus, we have indirectly entered the non-proliferation regime without any commensurate benefits.

Worse, India has agreed to abide by an Additional Protocol with the IAEA which is yet to be finalised, as part of the basis for the waiver. This also is without the knowledge of the Union Cabinet, the Parliament, and the people. In other words, Washington is now going to screw all the nuts-and-bolts necessary to stop India developing state-of-the-art missile technology and permanently capping the nuclear weapons programme. The “clean and unconditional” waiver is nothing but an unconditional surrender of India’s self-esteem and political independence.

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