the Indo-US nuclear deal truly against India''s interest?
A close look at the clauses of the 22-page agreement shows
that it is not. By Prem Shankar Jha
three years, as an outside partner of the Manmohan Singh
government, the Left has acted as a self-appointed watchdog
of the peoples'' interests. Its interventions have often
been salutary, and on balance the country may have gained
more than it has lost from them.
has been able to perform this function because it made
it clear in the very first days of the UPA government
that it would not push disagreement to the point of bringing
the government down.
is it threatening to depart from this promise now? One
reason may be Dr Manmohan Singh''s unexpected show of strength
in absolutely refusing to submit the Indo-US nuclear treaty
to further ratification by Parliament. To the Left this
has not only come as an unpleasant surprise, but a calling
of its bluff. If it backs down now, the entire nation
will know that its feet are made of clay.
Singh''s challenge too is most probably not the momentary
lapse of a harassed prime minister who has finally lost
his patience. The Congress knows that the next elections
are at best 18 months away. It also knows that the anti-incumbency
swing in the various states is, on balance, going to work
against it, just it had worked for it in 2004.
may therefore have more to gain from an early election,
especially if it can legitimately claim that it has been
prevented from transforming the future of the country.
the end, the drama that we are witnessing will probably
turn out to be a storm in a teacup.
Left too must know that the anti-incumbency factor is
likely to go against it in the next election. In Bengal
it can hardly be unaware of the anger and disillusionment
that it has created in its most devoted followers through
it''s, to them inexplicable, attempt to expropriate land
from farmers to hand over to a private company at Singur.
It needs time to heal wounds and repair the damage.
may be why both Mr. Jyoti Basu and Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharya
have cautioned the Politburo not to push the confrontation
politics apart, is the Indo-US nuclear deal truly not
in India''s interest? A close look at the clauses of the
22-page agreement shows that it is quite the opposite.
The sole plank on which the Left has sought to denigrate
it is that the Hyde Act, by which the US administration
is bound, contains provisions that could easily be used
to force India to surrender control of its foreign policy
a close look at the 123 agreement, which is legally binding
on both countries shows that this is completely untrue.
Bush administration has very largely met three of the
four objections that a panel of eminent nuclear scientists
had raised in Mumbai on 15 December, last year. Although
India has not been guaranteed access to US enrichment
technology, it has secured the right to reprocess the
spent fuel it uses in its civilian reactors under IAEA
treaty contains not only provisions designed to prevent
the disruption of fuel supplies, but binds the US to doing
all it can to prevent it. Finally, there is not a single
word in the Treaty that requires India to pursue a foreign
policy that is ''congruent'' with that of the US.
is only on India''s right to test, that there has been
no substantive departure from the Hyde Act. This is not
surprising because a Congressional enactment of the late
''70s mandated the suspension of all nuclear, and several
other, forms of cooperation with countries that are actively
pursuing a nuclear weaponisation programme.
administration in Washington is as much bound to respect
the sovereign legislative power of the US Congress, as
any Indian government is constrained to uphold the country''s
sovereignty if the security environment deteriorates dramatically.
Both countries will have to live with the consequences
of these constraints. India may have to forego carrying
out ''hot'' tests whenever its scientists feel they have
developed a new generation of warhead. The US will have
to live with the preference of private investors for more
reliable collaborators and fuel suppliers.
The Left''s, and for that matter the BJP''s, objections
to the treaty are unfounded for two other reasons.
the treaty is not aimed solely, or perhaps even mainly,
at building closer relations with the US. An equally important
purpose, which now seems very likely to be achieved, is
to unlock the gates to the supply of dual-use technology
by the 45-member nuclear suppliers'' group.
Over the last four decades the cost of this technology
embargo had risen. But what India had lost so far is nothing
compared to what it stands to lose in the future.
even in the field of nuclear power generation, India was
stuck with a four-decade old 235 MW uranium-based reactors,
and was running out of uranium.
make up the current power shortage and maintain even an
average of seven per cent growth, it will have to add
440,000 MW of additional power generation capacity by
2027. It is difficult to see it can do this without having
a catastrophic effect on the environment, without relying
extensively on nuclear power.
the uranium we have is sufficient to run only 10,000 MW
of power reactors in the foreseeable future.