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  P-6 and The Nuclear Truth  


By: Narayanan Komerath
July 26, 2005
iews expressed here are author’s own and not of this website. Full disclaimer is at the bottom.


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The U.S. and India agreed this week to correct a thirty-seven year old mistake – the US asked the 44-member Nuclear Supplier Group to recognize India as a nuclear-armed power with equal access to fuel and technology, and India would bring its civilian nuclear facilities under international inspection of safeguards, and accounting of the fuel cycle. 

Did George Bush lay open the Pandora’s Box of nuclear proliferation? Did India sell out a proud seventy-five year record of  independent research in nuclear technology, as well as the rightful claim to a seat on the UN Security council?  

Nukes For Pakistan Treaty 

The protests and concerns from various quarters show how much this long-overdue and common sense decision has shaken up the dark corners of the nuclear “non-proliferation” maze.  A few points to consider:

It is no coincidence that the Veto in the present UN Security Council is held by the P-5 .. . Recognition as a nuclear weapons state is de facto veto power.

India appears to have heard the Bush administration plea that this is “not the right time” to expand the UNSC. Public sentiment in the US favors a “reorganization” of the UN, but they mean something very different from an expansion of the UNSC – the nomination of neo-con hatchet man John Bolton is clear proof of Administration intentions.  It is no coincidence that the Veto in the present UN Security Council is held by the P-5.  This is just a recognition that no UN decision will stick if any of these powers feels strongly against it.  Thus, admission to the nuclear club is de facto UNSC veto power – without having to support the UN. The Bush administration may have persuaded India to exchange the equivalent of a first-class round-trip ticket on the Titanic for something meaningful. Recognition as a nuclear weapons state is de facto UNSC veto power.  At the same time, it is “victory” for Pakistan and China, in that the US is not backing India's UNSC bid

The “Non-Proliferation Ayatollahs” are enraged at what they see as a violation of the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).  Established in 1968, the NPT seals the monopoly of the P-5 on nuclear weapons, and dictates that all signatories open up all their civilian facilities to IAEA inspection (military facilities are exempt, but only the P-5 are allowed to have them). In exchange, other signatories were promised access to fuel and technology, and the P-5 made some vague mumblings about moving towards nuclear disarmament. India on principle, Pakistan as imitator and Israel on pragmatics, did not sign. The NPT was rightly viewed as being racist and designed to perpetuate dominance of the P-5, while denying legitimate security imperatives of countries like India and Israel.  

The NPT is better known today as the “Nukes to Pakistan Treaty”, the P-5 having leaked technology and weapons to their favorites. The promised open access to advanced technology to the signatories has not materialized very much either, outside narrow alliances such as NATO.  With North Korea revoking its signature, Iran practising brinkmanship, Saudi Arabia daring the P-5 to open the Pandora’s Box there, and China and Pakistan making a mockery of the whole scam, the NPT is essentially dead. It serves mainly to bully and obstruct India.  

Fifteen years after the Berlin wall fell, the US and Russia show no signs of going below 10,000 warheads each – enough to kill Earth more dead than Mars. Senior officials readily admit that there is no plan for disarmament. Japan sits on the largest stockpile of enriched fissile material, one step away from weaponization.  South Korea has had an enrichment program for several years. 

When the NPT is explained to young people in America today, they are shocked and angry, and ask who foisted such a scam on the world in America’s name. This is the NPT’s real problem.  

The NonProllotullah Record 

The sanctimonious protestations of the Washington Beltway “Non-Proliferation Ayatollahs” (NPAs) ignore their own record of silence as China coolly sent nuclear weapons to Pakistan in the 1970s through ‘90s.  Is their posturing and professed concern for the safety and best interests of Indians and all humans any more credible than their “certifications” under oath? Does the Tooth Fairy really exist?  

Henry Sokolski, executive director of the “Nonproliferation Policy Education Center” shrilled in an article titled “The India Syndrome”:  

“But the fateful step having already been taken, it is imperative that the administration and Congress make the best of it by insisting that, if India is to be treated as if it were an NPT nuclear weapons state for the purpose of transferring nuclear goods, it must at least live up to its past nonproliferation commitments and behave as other responsible nuclear weapons states do.”  

Sokoloski did not specify exactly what “responsible nuclear weapons states do” – whether it is to transfer nukes to irresponsible dictators as China has done with Pakistan and North Korea or France did by helping Saddam, blow up several islands on the other side of the world, as France did in Polynesia as recently as 1996, or “certify” year after year before Congress that Pakistan had no nuclear weapons program, as Sokolski’s State Department cohorts did in the 1980s to cover the flow of US taxpayer dollars and advanced weapons to what became the Al Qaeda. It is a blatantly racist but familiar Non-Pro Ayatollah habit to presume guilty intentions of India with nary an iota of evidence, while ignoring the habitual violations of those whom they cannot bully. Sokolski had recently advised Indians to learn to burn coal rather than use nuclear power, in a classic “why don’t the peasants eat cake?” re-enaction. 

Reality Lights up in Washington

Sokolski had recently advised Indians to learn to burn coal rather than use nuclear power, in a classic “why don’t the peasants eat cake?” re-enaction.

For over three decades, only the heroism and sacrifice of India’s soldiers, and the tireless efforts of Indian nuclear scientists, have kept the barbarians at bay. Faced with invasion every time a Pakistani dictator feels shaky, and ever under the shadow of nuclear blackmail – always from China, and most shockingly from the US itself in 1971 – India finally weaponized in 1998. Barely in time, as the deterrent defeated General Musharraf’s backup plan when Indian soldiers started wiping out his Northern Light Infantry occupying the heights of Kargil in 1999. China showed no interest in challenging a nuclear power. The veto was working.  

In 1998, amidst the mindless clamoring to “punish” India, neo-conservative pioneer Newt Gingrich stood alone to tell the truth: that India needed nuclear weapons to survive in its neighborhood.  Meanwhile, China and its clients Pakistan and North Korea have reduced the NPT to a complete farce.  

Serious thinkers today recognize the need for a new treaty that has a serious hope of controlling and eliminating weapons of mass destruction, based on something better than the NPT’s arrogant “because we who can nuke you, tell you so”. This month the White House took a big step down that sensible path by bringing India on board.  

India “Gets” the U.S. Perspective 

Washington’s concern is not about any Indian threat. If anything, Indian missiles controlled by democratically elected leaders, are the best reassurance that America’s enemies will not overrun the sea-lanes and fuel sources of the Eastern Hemisphere, nor will the “Caliphate” or the Communists sweep the Indian subcontinent. The larger U.S. interests are to help ensure that Indian nuclear fuel does not fall into the wrong hands, and that the US nuclear industry gets a much-needed boost from the energy business in India.  

And this is where India showed last week that the government had “got it”.  

Indian Sell-Out? Or Win-win?  

With oil prices doubling in the past year, the writing is on the wall – India has to replace hydrocarbon imports or see the economy destroyed. Nuclear energy is the only option to generate enough power without falling into the coming carbon trap of the Kyoto Protocol and attendant economic sanctions from the Europeans.  Thus it has become imperative to end the standoff on nuclear fuel supplies and technology. 

The real issue in nuclear nonproliferation is accounting for every gram of highly-enriched fissile material (roughly more than 90% U-235), and any plutonium by-product, to keep them out of the wrong hands. Power reactor technologies are minimizing the need for enrichment. Meanwhile, India must put false pride aside and recognize that American sensor technology can greatly enhance the tracking and safety of the fuel cycle. The terrorists are getting smarter. So must those who must stop them.  

It’s all about “separation” of the military and civilian establishments, so that the letter of the law regarding non-proliferation is followed, without hindering legitimate (as now agreed) defense needs. It is about transparency and uncompromising excellence of the civilian operation, allowing others to collaborate in the confidence that they are not contributing to mass death.

The British, whose only claim to either P-6 or UNSC membership is that of hanging on American coat-tails, acted out of haughty habit: posted the “No Dogs or Indians” sign.

The US-India Space collaboration agreement of last year set the stage for understanding and confidence-building. The US and France separate military and civilian establishments in their space and nuclear enterprises, allowing relatively open collaboration in the latter while allowing the former to operate quietly. So can India, without compromising pride, freedom or national security. The short-term cost of building separate military facilities is tiny compared to the scope of the civilian nuclear energy business required to climb from today’s 3% of total power generation to a projected 25% of a vastly increased national power generation total. India’s Fast Breeder reactors will pose a difficulty. In the short term, these may have to be hidden away behind military fences. Once India is a P-6 member, there is no need to claim that all research at all facilities is “peaceful”, after all.  

Even the Marxists, meanwhile, can take comfort that military nuclear facilities will soak up a good deal of that cash which they fear would go towards military purchases from America.  In fact, the tone and wording of the Official Statement of the Communist Party (Marxist) of India this week, was surprisingly mellow, once stripped of the usual garbage coating. The CPM’s US-located camp followers the FOIL, however,  did not disappoint: they came up with the usual condemnation – this time perceiving a slight to Communist China in the US-India alliance.  

The British, whose only claim to either P-6 or UNSC membership is that of hanging on American coat-tails, acted out of habit: posted the equivalent of their haughty “No Dogs or Indians” sign. Perhaps they hesitate to displease the Al Qaida any more after they experienced the kindness of what the BBC usually describes as “separatist militants”, right under London. The Russians, to their credit, told the Chinese to quit prattling about “responsible” nuclear powers, given the Chinese record. France had not commented in public.  

Ambassador Robert Blackwill said it best on a radio talk show, when a Pakistani declared that India was “so unstable”.  “Sixty years of democracy with a billion people: what could be more stable than that?” slam-dunked the Ambassador.  

“.. and a Prime Minister and a President completing what their respective political opponents started” he might have added.  

The blunt-spoken Texan in the Oval Office is in no mood to indulge the obsolete fantasies of the Nonprollotullahs, or the UN. He has agreed with India that “Satyam Eva Jayate”

Narayanan Komerath

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