Siddharth Varadarajan

Journalist | Writer | Analyst

After the accolades…

OK, so the NSG waiver is through and this is good news. But what is GOI going to do now? The U.S. is keen to rush the 123 agreement through and Condoleezza Rice wants India to not do anything to disadvantage U.S. companies (i.e. to wait before signing commercial contracts with other suppliers). External Affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee seems to be saying that India will not proceed until the 123 is done.

Mr. Mukherjee’s remarks — if they have been reported correctly — are dangerous, for two reasons.

First, as I wrote in an op-ed last week, there can be no question of India operationalising the 123 so long as the U.S. persists in reneging on the commitments it has made therein. Demanding fresh clarifications from Washington on fuel supply assurances, fall-back safeguards and reprocessing consent, therefore, is a must. Receiving satisfactory answers on these points has to be a necessary precondition for operationalising the 123.

Second, it is one thing to wait a few weeks out of diplomatic propriety for the US Congress to approve the 123 before rushing to complete agreements with Russia and France. But if approval is delayed, or comes with riders, all considerations of propriety must surely be jettisoned.

9 comments on “After the accolades…

  1. Satish
    September 10, 2008

    @ Mr. Sukla,Before you and your friends at CNDP spit venom at India you should <>first<> push P5 to legally commit to the following in a <>verifiable, time bound and non-discriminatory manner<>:1) Stop manufacturing of nuclear weapons (fission, boosted fission, <>fission assisted fusion <> [H-Bomb] and <>fusion<>).2) Complete ban on future testing (including sub-critical) of fission, boosted fission, <>fission assisted fusion <> [H-Bomb] and <>fusion<> weapons.3) Stop upgrading/refurbishing existing weapons stockpile through nuclear stewardship programs.4) Complete cease on production of plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium.5) Stop development, construction, refurbishing, upgrading and deployment of nuclear submarines.6) Stop development, construction, refurbishing, upgrading and deployment of ICBM’s.7) Decommission and scrap all existing nuclear submarines and ICBM’s.8) Dismantle existing weapons and weapon stockpiles.If P5 legally commit to the above in a <>verifiable, time bound and non-discriminatory manner<>. India will definitely follow their footsteps with out doubt.If you cannot do that then stop pontificating or else it will be clear to every one beyond doubt that [<><>to put it politely<><>] you guys are modern day <>Mir Jafar<>‘s of India.***<>My one liner for you and your CNDP friends: <> Thanks but, no thanks for your venom.

  2. Anonymous
    September 10, 2008

    Admiral Ramdas, Sukla Sen and J. Sriraman CNDP – Get US , Russia, France, UK , China to give up nukes FIRST . Till then you all are paid tools of the western “De-Nuke India” lobby . I care less for such opinions, as they undermine Anti-Indian Security Intrest. Hope such organisations , and their members, fundings are probed and tabs are put on their activities.

  3. Mahesh Z
    September 10, 2008

    @Satish,I agree with your comments. However, in USA, public and media opinion counts a lot. It puts lot of pressure on the congress. So far, we have enjoyed a great success lobbying congress, but the media and public here do NOT know any thing about our “why” of our nuclear history and they do not care.One way to positively influence congress ( and I mean no not only to pass the 123 agreement, but also to not amend it negative way) would be to create a media event that projects India in a very positive way.Since India has already committed to put civil reactors under safeguards any way next year or so, it can chose not to wait for it and declare one reactor to be put under safeguards voluantarily and unconditionally right away. I am telling you, the media here will be blown away!This is a recipie. GOI will be doing the cooking if any πŸ™‚

  4. Sukla Sen
    September 10, 2008

    Condemn the NSG decision to approve special exemption for India from its nuclear trade rules. Statement by Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace – CNDP The decision of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to approve a special exemption for India from its nuclear trade rules deserves to be condemned as strongly as the Indo-US nuclear deal and for the same reasons. The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) continues to oppose the deal as it undermines the prospects of global nuclear disarmament, promotes the cause of nuclear militarism and nuclear-weapon build-up in India, threatens to intensify the arms race between India and Pakistan , carries forward the perilous US-India “strategic partnership”, and seriously distorts India’s energy priorities.The NSG decision is a major step towards operationalising the deal, which while serving vested interests, both political and corporate, would clearly raise the likelihood of a global/regional apocalypse and is even otherwise detrimental to the interests of people of India. As a group committed to nuclear disarmament, the CNDP condemns the NSG decision as well as the means – the use of diplomatic threats and brute coercive power – adopted to reach this decision. The CNDP also finds the statement by Pranab Mukherjee on September 5, which is credited with having secured the consent of some of the initially dissenting members of the NSG, including Austria, Ireland and New Zealand, deeply hypocritical. More so, as his reiteration of India’s commitment to “a voluntary, unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing” completely dodges the issue of Indian Prime Minister’s categorical assertion in the Indian parliament in his concluding reply to the debate on confidence motion as recently as on July 22 last: “I confirm that there is nothing in these agreements which prevents us from further nuclear tests if warranted by our national security concerns”. If it is to be sincere, the claim that India does “not subscribe to any arms race, including a nuclear arms race” means that the country should commit to not manufacturing any more nuclear weapons, to ceasing the production of plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium, stopping the construction and plans for deployment of a nuclear submarine, and not developing longer range missiles. The CNDP calls upon India to adopt all of these measures immediately as a part of a larger effort to further global nuclear disarmament. Signed /- Admiral Ramdas, Sukla Sen and J. Sriraman Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace – CNDP A – 124 / 6, 1st Floor, Katwaria Sarai New Delhi – 110016, telefax – 011-26517814 e mail – cndpin…

  5. Satish
    September 10, 2008

    Mahesh,What ever you are smoking it must be real good stuff can you pass it to us πŸ˜‰I have only one thing to say <>“NO WAY”. <><>POSITIVE IMPACT MY BOTTOM.<>Positive impact must have happened when we didn't weaponize after 1974 peaceful explosion. It should have happened when we rejected numerous requests being made for our nuclear technology (Reactor & ENR). Positive impact should have happened when we showed restraint even after Chinese nuclear and missile proliferation to Pakistan. Positive impact should have happened when we were pushing for total disarmament of nuclear weapons 1 year after weaponization by Pakistan (we started weaponizing only in late 1989).Now after NSG waiver its a buyers market. US congress will approve the deal it has no choice. It is deliberate sequencing of the deal to force a decision on US congress.We must make sure that we have legally binding assurances from Russia and France for uninterrupted fuel supply under all circumstances for entire life of reactors we import. There should be no right to return clause. There should a clause which says that these countries should not state internal/external laws as a reason for failure to follow through their commitment/implementation of the nuclear agreement.Termination and dispute clauses should be clearly mentioned.Termination of agreement should not effect prior commitments that were agreed upon previously during the implementation of the deal.

  6. Mahesh Z
    September 10, 2008

    One thing that can have a huge positive impact on US congress and world over, would be to voluntarily put one of the declared civilian reactor under IAEA safeguards as per the new IAEA agreement.

  7. Satish
    September 10, 2008

    I have mainly four concerns with this deal:1) INDIA is tied down to future rule changes by NSG (though NSG has to consult INDIA for effective implementations we will be under tremendous pressure to accept the rule changes). There seems to be no incentive for NSG to make INDIA its member unless we demonstrate thorium reactors/thorium breeder reactors (thorium cycle).2) There are lots of doubts among people about the potency of INDIAN H-Bomb. Lot of questions and/or rumors about a 6th device that was pulled out from the shaft in 1998. There are also rumors about abandoned test in 2002.3) I also have concerns about talented people leaving government research agencies (BARC, IGCAR,..etc) for doing menial jobs in private sector (nuclear industry) for better pay.4) Absence of big Indian reactor developers.I think the government should bind itself legally and commit to the parliament (by amending Atomic Energy Act) by:1) Mandating minimum funding allocation per year for development of thorium fuel cycle/thorium breeder reactors/AHWR.2) Mandating funding (in time bound manner) for dedicated LIF (Laser Ignition Facility) under military sector. 3) Modified Atomic Energy Act should take measures that places government employees pay structure in nuclear industry at least on par with employees in private sector at all times by de-linking pay structure of people working for government in nuclear sector from “Central Pay Commission” and forming a “Atomic Energy Pay Commission” (which includes INDIAN private firms in nuclear sector as members) under AEC to regulate pay structure (including benefits) through out the industry. This commission should also define the hierarchy and number of employees in private organization for a given installed capacity.4) Mandating grooming and promoting at least two players as nuclear reactor developers (PPP model) in medium to long term.Government should have at least 55% direct or indirect holding at all times.Each of the two reactor developers should be structured in such a way that AEC (Atomic Energy Commission) will have at least 30% permanent direct holding at all times with veto rights, one public sector firm which is involved in nuclear development and one Indian private company under PPP model (Public Private Partnership) with shareholding of each member never exceeding 45% (except AEC). The two firms should have 100% Indian holding at all times and any changes to that should need at least 6 months notice period to parliament and parliamentary approval/clearance with 3/4th majority after taking care of Indian commercial, Intellectual Property and Military interests. One private company I can identify is L&T.

  8. Anonymous
    September 9, 2008

    Get thorium cycle reactors build , then there will be no need for NSG and its fuel.

  9. Sukla Sen
    September 9, 2008

    In view of the secret understanding between the GoI and the Bush Administration now coming out in the open, the salience of the passage of the deal through the US Congress has risen manifold.Precisely because the GoI is now publicly committed to wait, whatever be the value of such a commitment, there is no reason why the US Congress should allow itself to be rushed. Evidently the focus of action of anti-nuke peace activists all over the world now shifts to the US Congress to scuttle the ‘deal’, which is a frontal assault on the current non-proliferation regime and thereby the prospects of global nuclear disarmament. The deal is clearly meant to reward India, with a unique waiver, despite India being a non-signatory to the NPT and an aberrant state – which went and goes ahead with its nuclear weaponisation programme in the teeth of global censure and steadfastly refuses to make any binding commitment not to carry out any further explosive tests – conceivably to graduate from the A-Bomb level to the H-Bomb level in order to acquire the capability to kill millions and millions in a single shot, instead of hundreds of thousands (making a complete mockery of its “unilateral and voluntary” commitment to pursue the doctrine of “minimum credible deterrence”), or even cap its fissile material production programme at the current rate, let alone freeze it altogether, so as to produce more and more Bombs at an even higher rate – arbitrarily cherry-picked by the US for this special favour as a highly promising junior ally in pursuance of its demonic project for unilateral global dominance and ironically backed up by Russia, and France, in full measure – in the hunt for commercial benefits.This waiver would, on the one hand, tend to give an added boost to the craze of newer players to acquire such weapons of mass murder and, on the other, legitimise the continued possession of these evil weapons in the hands of the “old” ones.Hence, it’d have a disastrous impact on the prospects of global nuclear disarmament, apart from further aggravating a regional arms race with spine-chilling prospects, and for that reason to be opposed tooth and nail. In the US Congress, unlike in the NSG, blatant armtwisting is almost sure to be counterproductive. Here coaxing would be the most likely approach. That apparently still leaves some doable space for the peace activists in the US and worldwide.

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This entry was posted on September 9, 2008 by in Nuclear Issues.



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