Journalist | Writer | Analyst
Daryl Kimball, well-known to readers of this blog, has an evil twin in India. His name is Brahma Chellaney. While Kimball blasts the Nuclear Suppliers Group waiver for India as a “proliferation disaster” which will unleash a new round of nuclear weapon tests by Delhi, Chellaney attacks the NSG waiver as “a self-injurious deal” which will prevent India from completing “the unfinished task of deterrent-building”.
Er, what exactly is “the unfinished task of deterrent-building”?
Tests. Loads of them. After the deal, India can’t have them, says Chellaney.
So which of the ‘evil’ twins should we believe? I think both Kimball and Chellaney are wrong as well as right. Kimball is right when he says the deal will leave Indian hotheads free to go for a maximalist nuclear arsenal. What Kimball doesn’t get is that Indian hotheads are free to do this anyway. Chellaney is right to apprehend that the nuclear deal will increase the financial and economic consequences of testing. What he doesn’t get is that the NSG waiver offers Indian hotheads a potential layer of protection to ride out fuel sanctions in the event of a cut-off following testing — strategic reserves. For, contrary to his assertion that “the NSG waiver is in harmony with the Hyde Act, mirroring its core conditions”, there is no restriction on the amount of fuel India can stockpile.
So what’s the bottom line?
1. The nuclear deal does not take away India’s “right” to conduct nuclear tests.
2. It does raise the potential costs of testing but also offers a potential layer of protection as well.
3. India’s decision to exercise the “right” to test in the future will not be affected by the deal either way but by changes in the country’s security environment, the world situation, and domestic political and economic trends, in much the same way as the 1998 tests were.
4. Pressure should be mounted on the one country most likely to test in the next decade — the United States — to ratify the CTBT and drop its plans for new nuclear weapons.
In other words, the twins should go after other villains.