Thursday, July 21, 2005

India-US Nuclear Deal

The nuclear deal reached between India and US this Monday is a very welcome development. While discounting the extreme reactions praising and opposing the deal, the real benefit out of this deal is economical. Indeed energy security is of paramount importance to sustain our growth and nuclear energy is the best way forward. Its cheap and certainly green if we put some effort. I have in atleast two other occasions highlighted the crisis we were facing in acquiring nuclear fuel. This deal should help us tide over that crisis. The extreme reactions to the deal have been "India accepted as a nuclear weapons state" and "India allows cap on its Nuclear arsenal". Both these conclusions are flawed. We should not be under any illusion that "we have arrived". This deal merely puts in words what has been already accepted worldwide. i.e India is a nuclear weapon state which will never give up its nuclear arsenal and hence won't sign the NPT. There had to be a way to reconcile this reality with the Non-proliferation regime. The other extreme reaction has been that by placing our civilian nuclear reactors under IAEA safeguards and agreeing to work with US on the FMCT, we are allowing a cap on our nuclear arsenal. I think this again is flawed since we are not doing anything more than what other nuclear states have already done. In anycase I believe India should not be too bothered about weapons but instead focus on nuclear energy. I agree with the criticism that we have agreed on many specific commitments in return for mere pledges which may or not materialize. There are indeed hurdles to be faced in the US congress and more importantly from the Nuclear Supplier Group. But at this stage of our relations with the US, we have reasons to believe that US will travel the last mile. Finally we should understand the anguish felt by the non-proliferation activists. Indeed India cannot occupy the moral high ground either in possessing nuclear weapons or in successfully bargaining a deal to circumvent the NPT. But we had no option except to go for nuclear weapons and if we had done that some ten years before 1974, we might have avoided this 32 year nuclear isolation.

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