i spoke to brahma recently, and he's extremely concerned about where the politicians are leading the country. and this is not just the congress, although they are far worse. but i remember brahma was not all that thrilled about the bjp government either. he feels that a lot of very short-sighted decisions are being made that the nation will regret in the long run. he's probably right. just as we're now regretting the giveaway of tibet, we will regret the giveaway of national security as well.
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Asian Age, Front-Page, March 28, 2006
Bush traps India into CTBT
By BRAHMA CHELLANEY
The Bush administration has attached a legally binding rider to the nuclear deal with India even before the US Congress has had an opportunity to put conditions of its own. Under the administration's action plan, India would become a party to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) through a congressional piece of legislation.
This is the first time in world history that one power has sought to bind another state to an international treaty rejected by its own legislature. The US Senate threw out the CTBT in 1999.
Under subsection 'd' of the "waiver authority" sought by the administration from Congress, India would be precluded forever from conducting any nuclear-explosive test. If India were to violate that blanket prohibition, all civilian nuclear cooperation with it will cease, leaving any power reactors it imports high and dry, bereft of fuel.
That is exactly what happened to the US-built Tarapur power reactors when, in response to India's 1974 test, America walked out midway through a 30-year civil nuclear cooperation pact it signed in 1963. Although the 1963 pact had the force of an international treaty, the US halted all fuel and spare-parts supplies. Today, with the Indian foreign secretary in Washington to negotiate a new civil nuclear cooperation accord, India is reliving history.
For Washington, the nuclear deal has come handy to impose qualitative and quantitative ceilings on India's nuclear-deterrent capability in order to ensure that it never emerges as a full-fledged nuclear-weapons state. A permanent test ban is part of its effort to qualitatively cap the Indian deterrent, while the quantitative ceiling comes from America's success in making India agree to reduce to less than one-third the existing number of facilities producing weapons-usable fissile material.
Lucky to escape Bush's nuclear embrace, Pakistan can now seek to overtake India on nukes, as it has done on missiles. It can watch the fun as the Bush administration and US Congress entangle India in a web of capability restraints, in return for offering New Delhi dubious benefits — the right to import uneconomical power reactors dependent on imported fuel.
The White House has ingeniously used the reference to India's "unilateral moratorium" in the July 18, 2005, nuclear deal to make it legally obligatory for New Delhi to abjure testing perpetually. In other words, India is being compelled to foreswear a right America will not give up, even as the US merrily builds nuclear bunker-busting warheads and conducts sub-critical tests.
The reference to the Indian moratorium in the July 18 accord is specifically linked to the commitment therein that India "would be ready to assume the same responsibilities and practices and acquire the same benefits and advantages as other leading countries with advanced nuclear technology, such as the US". The US imposition of both a perpetual test ban and perpetual international inspections, however, shows vividly that India is being denied the "same benefits and advantages" as the US.
While parties to the CTBT can withdraw from the treaty invoking its "supreme national interest" clause, India will have no such option. It will take on US-imposed, CTBT-plus obligations.
Instead of repealing or amending provisions of its domestic law, the Bush administration has simply sought a waiver authority under which, if the President were to make seven specific determinations on India's good conduct, "the President may … exempt" nuclear cooperation with New Delhi from the requirements of Sections 123(a)(2), 128 and 129 of the 1954 Atomic Energy Act.
The seven good-conduct determinations listed in subsection 'b' of the Waiver Authority Bill include the following — that "India is working with the US for the conclusion of a multilateral Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty" (FMCT); and that India is making "satisfactory progress" with the International Atomic Energy Agency to implement an "additional protocol", which will bring India's entire civil nuclear fuel cycle and its workforce under international monitoring.
There is also an eighth determination to be made. Marked, "Subsequent Determination", subsection 'd' reads: "A determination under subsection (b) shall not be effective if the President determines India has detonated a nuclear explosive device after the date of the enactment of this Act".
India's second-class status is being endowed with legal content, so that it stays put at that level permanently.
It began with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's announcement earlier this month that, contrary to his solemn pledge in Parliament "never to accept discrimination", he gave his word to Bush that India will accept international inspections of a type applicable only to non-nuclear states — perpetual and immutable. Bush's waiver-authority request makes clear that he would seek to grant India any exemption only after it has brought into force a legally irreversible international inspections regime.
After being the only nuclear power to accept perpetual, enveloping inspections, India now stands out as the only nuclear-weapons state whose test "moratorium" will cease to be voluntary or revocable. Although still to build a single Beijing-reachable weapon in its nuclear arsenal, India will have no right to test even if China, Pakistan or the US resumed testing.
Having set out to drag India into the CTBT through the backdoor, the US is positioning itself to also haul New Delhi into a fissile-material production ban even before an FMCT has been negotiated, let alone brought into force. This objective could be facilitated either through a congressionally imposed condition requiring New Delhi to halt all fissile-material production or through what Undersecretary of State Robert Joseph has called "additional non-proliferation results" in "separate discussions".
The new bilateral civil nuclear cooperation accord under negotiation offers yet another avenue to Washington to enforce an FMCT-equivalent prohibition on India. In any case, once India places orders to import power reactors and locks itself into an external fuel-supply dependency, Washington will have all the leverage to cut off further Indian fissile-material production.
The Bush administration, in its written replies earlier this year to scores of questions posed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, did not seek to dissuade Congress from considering the imposition of additional conditions on India, despite a specific query on new riders. In other words, the administration may not be averse to Congress attaching any additional rider as long as it is not a deal-buster. But given the way India has relinquished the central elements of the July 18 deal, the US might believe that it can make New Delhi bend more.
What US-inspired technology controls against India could not achieve over three decades, the PM has been willing to do, in order to import power reactors that make no economic or strategic sense — retard the country's nuclear-deterrent capability. He has offered no explanation, for example, for agreeing to shut down the Cirus plutonium-production reactor without ordering a replacement.
The irony is that a nominated PM, who has never won a single popular election in his career, has agreed to a deal with an outside power under which India's nuclear-weapons potential is to be cut by more than two-thirds without he being required to get Parliament's approval either for the accord or his civil-military separation plan. But the same deal needs to be vetted thoroughly by US Congress!
For a country that prides itself as the world's biggest representative democracy, India needs to ask itself what sort of democracy it is when its Parliament passes its national budget without any deliberation, and limitations imposed on its most important security programme escape legislative scrutiny.