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  Indo-American Nuclear Pact - Rationales  
 

 

By: Gaurang Bhatt
February 05, 2006
V
iews expressed here are author’s own and not of this website. Full disclaimer is at the bottom.

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India has limited uranium ore and has failed to ensure reliable and steady supplies prior to the 1974 nuclear detonation which triggered the American and nuclear supplier’s group sanctions. Retrospectively, it was a foolish bravado by Indira Gandhi, who was in political trouble and sought to divert attention as Clinton did by firing cruise missiles at Sudan and Afghanistan and bombed Iraq to escape his Monica Lewinsky troubles. The bomb detonation prompted Pakistan’s Bhutto to state that they would have a bomb even if they had to survive by eating grass. Pakistan had recently lost its east wing and suffered a humiliating defeat and was in a paranoid state. Thus the South Asia nuclear arms race began. It would have been better to follow the Israeli strategy of being an undeclared nuclear power or to have lined up alternative supplies and nuclear technology know-how prior to the surreptitious entry into the nuclear club under the pretense of a peaceful explosion.

The current problem is that we do not have the expertise to build over1000MW nuclear power plants and are hamstrung by power shortages and poor infrastructure in an era of rising energy prices and decreasing future supplies. Furthermore our uranium ore supplies are limited and we have inadequate facilities for making highly enriched uranium for our domestic power and military strategy needs. We need an interim supply of HEU until we can transition to self-sufficiency by building fast breeder reactors operating with our plentiful Thorium.

America’s needs are to build up India as a counterweight in conventional forces and to some extent nuclear stalemate vis-a-vis China, without permitting a future rising economically powerful India to become a challenging nuclear power like Russia or China. Thus it wants to limit India’s fissile material stockpile and slow its ICBM and nuclear submarine capabilities by putting as many of India’s nuclear facilities as possible, under IAEA safeguards. There is another problem in that America does not want India to develop breeder reactors that produce more U233 than it uses from Plutonium and Thorium thus giving India self-sufficient independence in nuclear fuel. It is going to be very hard-nosed in its negotiations and will try to exploit India’s desperation. America also needs to use its nuclear expertise to sell India and even China and other countries expensive civilian nuclear energy plants to put a dent in its trade deficits. The starving nuclear industry in America and its lobbying clout are keen to push this agenda. America is mortally afraid of Pakistani nuclear assets falling into the hands of Islamic terrorists and it needs Pakistan and Afghanistan as bases to control Central Asian energy resources. It previously used the Shah’s Iran then subsequently Saudi Arabia and now uses Bahrain, Qatar and Iraq to control Persian Gulf energy resources. Reliable and reasonably priced energy is critical for America’s own economy and control over the energy resource of Japan and the EU essentially to keep them towing America’s line. This is why China is buying up energy companies the world over at high prices, while India and its oil minister talk to China about co-operation and are fooled as America is by China with regards to North Korea.

There are China, Iran And Pakistan, the three flies in the pact that could be a soothing ointment for India and America. China for its own geopolitical reasons has a no-lose all-win option in Pakistan. It can never be a threat to China as their only geographic contiguity is the impassable high mountains at the corners of Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and China. Pakistan is an economic midget but a giant irritant to India capable of fueling the Kashmir and Northeast insurgencies through its ISI and its surrogate Bangladesh. China thus diverts Indian resources to military spending and directs them to its northwestern border. Thus China has supplied Pakistan with missile and nuclear technology in contravention to the Missile Technology Control Regime and Nuclear Proliferation Treaty to which it is a signatory. China has done the same to Iran, Saudi Arabia and North Korea. It has played a smart game by supporting North Korea and fooling America that it needs China to bring North Korea to the bargaining table in six party talks. It has also sown up energy deals the world over and sided with America’s enemy Iran and tried to wean away South American countries from America which exploited them under the Monroe doctrine. It has become the second largest holder of American debt, the cheapest supplier of goods to America and its largest trade deficit partner. Thus Chinese leaders can threaten to nuke Los Angeles and tell America to put its own house in order, while India has to listen meekly to American preaching and dictates.

Iran is another of America’s obsession about the axis of evil. America forgets the coup it engineered against the elected Iranian government of Mossadeq in the nineteen-fifties. It then gave sanctuary to its puppet Shah that led to the barbarous hostage taking by Iran. America then instigated and armed Saddam and Iraq to start a war with Iran that led to a million Iranian casualties due to the foolish martyr policies of Khomeini. The economic disaster and the shooting down of an Iranian airliner by America led to a peace. Iran learnt it lessons when it couldn’t get American spare parts for its weapons and planes during the Iran-Iraq war. It shifted allegiance to Russia of the disintegrated Soviet Union and went on a massive arms buildup. The bombing of Serbia and the foolish invasion of Iraq is what made Iran and North Korea acquire nuclear weapons and to some extent even India declare itself a nuclear power. Multiethnic or threatened states have to advertise that attacking them will be costly and dangerous. That is why poisonous frogs and butterflies have evolved glaring, bright and loud color patterns as potential warnings to predators.

America has tried to isolate Iran. It chose to build an oil pipeline from Baku in Azerbaijan via Georgia to the Mediterranean Turkish port of Ceyhan rather than the simpler way via Iran to the Persian Gulf. It is also trying to prevent Central Asian pipelines to traverse through Russia and wants Turkmenistan to send a pipeline via Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thus it is opposed to the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. It wants to hold India’s feet to the fire to vote against Iran at the IAEA and Security Council while dangling the carrot of the nuclear pact. Thus India’ relations with Iran are likely to be jeopardized. Pakistan has always been a power pawn for America. It started with CENTO. Pakistan used its weaponry meant to defend it against the Communist threat to attack India in 1965 and 1971.Then the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan led to arming Pakistan once again and ignoring its nuclear proliferation with China’s help. Now its terrorism, the Khan nuclear bazaar and clandestine cruise missile supply by China are ignored to use it as a stepping stone to Afghanistan and Central Asian energy resources to India’s detriment.

It is indeed in America’s interest to enlist India on its team. India is a democracy, a responsible nuclear power, has a large army not unwilling to tolerate casualties and a blue water navy capable of safeguarding the corridor from the Straits of Hormuz to the Straits of Malacca through which the world’s energy tankers traverse. India is a non-aggressive power and in dire need of improved infrastructure, reliable affordable energy, technology and capital which America and its allies the West can provide.

Life is not a fairy tale where the characters live happily ever after. Alienating Iran and collapse of the nuclear pact will push an energy deprived India into a strong alignment with Russia as it did in the past with the Soviet Union post-independence, when America foolishly refused to help in the construction of the Bhakra Nangal dam. Fortunately for America and unfortunately for India, China has no interest in forming the tripartite Russia, China, India axis suggested by a former Russian foreign minister and India’s large Muslim minority and a neighboring radicalized hostile Pakistan and the rising Islamic extremism in West Asia does not leave India with other credible strategic alliances. It is nevertheless imperative for India to plan for alternative scenarios and not become either a pawn or be uncontrollably buffeted without choice, like Brownian movements by the impact of larger and weightier forces. In spite of all this it is crucial for India to emphasize and pursue the benefits of the nuclear pact but on its own terms and be prepared to walk away from the deal if its long-term consequences outweigh the short-term benefits. America on the other hand, is addicted to instant gratification as the history of the long litany of its economic and foreign policies attest to. I am pessimistic because both countries have poor political parties more interested in internecine quarrels with name calling, corrupt elected representatives susceptible to disguised bribes, ideologues blind to reason and pragmatic national interests, and ignorant, apathetic and economically stressed populations.

There is an important consideration overlooked by Indian strategists and leaders in the nuclear deal with America. As I have stressed in my prior article, America rightly for its own self-interest does not want any more major nuclear powers with a large inventory of atomic weapons to match its own.

America by its prescribed privatization by IMF and resultant plunder by oligarchs, has tried to marginalize Russia, the successor to the old Soviet Union by destabilizing its economy. The debacles of Gorbachev and Yeltsin out of inherited incompetence and egotistic inebriation respectively, made a superpower into a bit player on the world stage. Putin is redressing the damage, but by emasculating democracy. A fallen Russia because of its huge inventory of nuclear weapons is still given an honorary seat at the expanded G-8. This is done, not out of charity towards all and malice towards none, but because of the capability of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).

The weaning away of its Near Abroad like the Central Asian STANS, Ukraine, Georgia & Azerbaijan by NGOs, Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy by engineering the Tulip and other revolutions is countered by Russia by shutting off the supply of subsidized gas and oil. To neutralize the newer nuclear nations on the horizon like North Korea, America is spending tens of billions on Anti-Ballistic Missile defenses (ABM). America, a declining economic power, attacked Afghanistan and Iraq to control Middle Eastern and Central Asian energy resources and retain control over the real economic powers, the EU and Japan. These are as important as 9-11.

Ethnic and historic ties and prior protection against an expanding threat of an aggressive Soviet Union has held Europe captive, but the evaporation of the Soviet threat and the reliable energy supplies from a co-operative Russia worry the US. Rumsfeld’s derogatory remarks about old Europe confirm this. A belligerent nuclear North Korea and a hostile jingoistic China may force Japan to develop an independent nuclear deterrent and step out from under the American umbrella and stop funding the huge US trade and current account deficits, sending the American economy into a tailspin. America has similar worries about the rising Chinese military and economic power and is trying to encircle and contain China.

Its desire to build up India as a counterweight to China is well spelled out in the writings of Ambassador Blackwill and his advisor and former Indian Ashley Tellis, but it does not want India to have a huge supply of nuclear weapons or energy independence. It is trying to curtail Indian fissile material production and does not want India to have an independent fast breeder nuclear reactor program to generate its own supply of enriched uranium or Plutonium. Thus it is willing to sell nuclear reactors for which India will be dependent on the Uranium teats of America. It is also willing to provide Patriot missiles as ABMs. It also sees a more powerful China using Pakistan as its proxy. For this reason and to use Pakistan as an entry corridor to intimidate the Middle East and Central Asia and to prevent Pakistani nukes from falling into the hands of Islamic terrorists, it continues to support and arm Pakistan and mollycoddle Musharraf. Nothing India does can change America's benevolence towards Pakistan.

The whole concept of deterrence by ABM is still unreliable. It may work in the future if the technology improves, the attacking power has only a few nuclear missiles and is located far enough to give time to the US to respond effectively. North Korea and Iran fulfill these criteria for America. Powers with a large supply of nuclear missiles and enough technology can make the ABM defense ineffective by swamping it with a large attack with a mixture of nuclear missiles and decoys, indistinguishable to the ABM defense.

India has none of these luxuries. Pakistani missiles are too near and have at the most a 15 minute window, before they strike New Delhi and the Indian plains. The inevitable rogue supply by China to Pakistan of nuclear reactors and missiles will definitely put Pakistan in the category of having a large number of nuclear weapons and decoys. Recently China gave Pakistan cruise missiles after India unnecessarily and foolishly bragged about its Brahmos developed jointly with Russia. Even today some strategic analysts believe that Pakistan has more nuclear warheads than India and better missile delivery systems obtained from North Korea and China.

India then will have to rely on the MAD option to counter Pakistan. India would be better off increasing its inventory of nuclear warheads and delivery systems and attaining a second strike submarine launch capability rather than spending scarce resources on costly, unreliable, unproved and ineffective strategies like ABMs. Any treaty which cuts off production of fissile materials, makes it dependent on HEU from unreliable suppliers capable of cutting off supplies or sanctioning it and prevents it from achieving independence by stifling its own breeder reactor development. This is not in the national interest.

Furthermore India's dependence on Israel and America is a stick to be threatened with if it seeks energy deals with Iran and Syria, as has already happened. The pressure to squash Iranian gas and Syrian oil deals and the arm twisting to put all power generating nuclear plants under IAEA inspection, the ban on further nuclear tests and pressure to agree to a fissile material cutoff highlight India's dependent position and forced moves. Israel and America are justified in warning India not to do so as it is not in their interest. India’s energy and foreign policies are held hostage by them for lack of independent military policy, making India a mere puppet on a chain. This is the fate of minor or rising powers and requires smart leadership and not squabbling, greedy and foolish leadership that India’s two major political parties show. America itself after its birth as a nation in the late eighteenth century was in a similar predicament and deftly played the balancing game with Britain and France until the foolish misadventure of President Madison in 1812. It was Jackson, the American Indian hater who rescued the nation. China's tyrants have studied history and learnt from it while India's leading parties are more interested in rewriting history to suit their ideology rather than learning from it.

The reprehensible behavior of Manmohan Singh in the midnight massacre of toppling the elected Bihar government by President’s rule and its legal condemnation by the Indian Supreme Court shows that he too is a puppet. His creation of a National Advisory Council to oversee the ruling party’s decisions and making Sonia Gandhi its chair further trumpets his puppet status. The acquiescence of President Kalam in the Governor Buta Singh’s dissolution of a legitimately elected assembly for political reasons shows that he too is a puppet. The Prime minister’s going along with this dirty game and the debacle with the unfreezing of Quattrochi assets and stymying of the Bofors investigation cast serious aspersions on Manmohan Singh’s ethics and independence.

Doomed is a nation whose people and leaders are puppets. No Luck or God can help a nation whose policies and leaders like puppets on a string, dance to the finger wagging of powers of foreign origin!

Finally the cat is out of the bag and unnamed sources and other off the record attributions stated the truth. India's apathy will sink the nuclear deal. India will have to choose between bombs and electricity. 

These statements finally reveal that the real intention of the nuclear pact with India is to limit the quantity and quality of the Indian nuclear arsenal by making India put most, if not all its nuclear installations under IAEA safeguards in perpetuity and put in under captive control for its supplies of highly enriched uranium.

This is precisely the reason that Iran is being pressured to give up enriching uranium. Technically it is entitled to do so under the NPT treaty. It is also true that once enrichment by Iran is permitted there is nothing to stop it from having a nuclear arsenal. Unlike India, Iran is self-sufficient in uranium ore. Thus it cannot be allowed to enrich uranium. India maybe allowed to enrich but needs to be controlled by restricting access to ore and thus both are starved of the finished product that has a dual use or their access to it is controlled and monitored.

Iran’s support of terrorism is a matter of interpretation. It was Iran’s Constitution and elected government that was overthrown by the British and Americans in the early and middle twentieth century. Chomsky has repeatedly emphasized terror by rogue states and state terrorism routinely utilized by the powerful states. Furthermore America has invaded and overthrown legitimate governments illegitimately far more often in its two centuries than Iran in over two millennia. There is reasonable consensus now that the only state to have used nuclear weapons and that also as an instrument of terror is America on Japan, under the false pretext that it saved American lives. Japan was on the verge of surrender and would probably have done so without bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Rather than the American insistence on a complete unconditional surrender, it was foolishly holding out like an insect society, for the saving of its Emperor. This was eventually agreed to despite calling its eventual surrender unconditional.

Shia Iran thought it was in the catbird seat because of high oil prices, American quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan and its leverage with China, Russia and India and its proclaimed solidarity with the Sunni Palestinians. Nations are not moral agents. India peeled off first as it is not in its interest to have another nuclear power in the neighborhood especially if the government is a Muslim theocracy. Saudi Arabia with its Shiite majority in its eastern oil patch and its ruling Sunni kleptocracy and majority Sunni population peeled off next, as did Jordan, Egypt and Gulf States under American pressure.

The extremely foolish lies of denying the Holocaust by the Iranian President gave the newly elected rightist German Chancellor ammunition to line up with America, while showing proper jettisoning of its sordid past. A sagging domestic popularity and riots by the Muslim minority were used as an opportunity by France’s Chirac to threaten use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states. So much for Iran’s strategy of driving a wedge between the EU3 and America. Overtly expressed differences are for propaganda purposes only. When push comes to shove and covertly, Europe and America or on the same side as far as preserving their privileged status and dominating the rest of the world. China and Russia which have huge energy and arms deals with Iran were its hopes to use their veto in the Security Council on Iran's behalf. They do not see the benefit of supporting Iran at the cost of Western trade and thus merely delayed referral or abstained. Japan which had a large energy deal with Iran will back off. It is an insect society and having been beaten once by America, it will toe its line of pathological worship.

The differential treatment of Turks and Turkey as compared to Poles and Poland by the EU should be an eye opener for Muslims and Muslim countries. This is not to deny Islam's inability to assimilate due to backwardness, rigidity without reformation or renaissance, and an easy inclination towards terror. The underlying causes for this are conveniently forgotten by Britain, France and America because human nature has to have a scotoma for its own faults to avoid self-loathing. The recent publications of cartoons critical of Mohammed initially by a Danish newspaper and then reprints across Europe are to build up support for a strike against Iran. The cartoons should be allowed and are partly the truth but Islam's narrow mindedness and its culture of apostasy killings has dictated the response of many Muslim countries that unhesitatingly and unashamedly show the "Conspiracy of the Elders of Zion", a fabrication, as gospel truth on their television. American winking at Israel’s and Pakistan's nuclear program reveal its total hypocrisy, convenient selectivity of vision. It is the worry of another powerful player on the American and Israeli dominated Middle East stage that dictates the exclusion of Iran.

Thus Iran will be destabilized with the help of Azerbaijanis and Kurds at its northern end and Baluchis at the southern end. The Pakistanis will collaborate. It is the nature of the sub-continentals, be they Indians or Pakistanis to collaborate with conquering powers. From Amichand, Mir Jafars and the sepoys and police who helped to enforce the British Raj, Indian and Pakistani history is a sad litany of spineless collaborators. Not even fanatic Islam can make Pakistanis vertebrates as it seems to make the Iraqis, as Anthony Shadid's prize winning book "Night Draws Near" documents. But then Islam is really an Arabic religion, unlike Christianity which has become a European religion. All others who follow these faiths are duped and become mere pawns in the chess game. India is battered between the oil rich Muslim nations and the technology and finance rich Western nations. It can ill afford to antagonize Israel its military supplier which will not tolerate an Iran with nuclear weapons.

A co-ordinated bombing by Israel, Europe and America with nuclear bunker busters if necessary, the above ethnic uprisings and strangulation by boycotts, will bring the Iranian theocracy to its knees. This time a wizened America will not occupy the country like it did in Iraq, nor will it listen to the exiled Iranian community like it did with Iraq, despite the little Shahlet trying to emulate Chalabi. The rising oil prices, to which America is immune by its oil reserves and ability to print dollars and Europe and Japan which are immune due to their own oil reserves and wealth, will devastate the rest of the world.

This is why it is important to line up all your ducks including uranium ore, enrichment and indigenous military and economic ability before you start shooting (detonating nuclear weapons). Those who count their chickens before they are hatched suffer the fate of Iraq and Iran. India should follow the example of Israel or have the ability of penance and effort like Bhagirath or Dhruva(pun intended as Dhruva is also the reactor that produced the Plutonium for India's first bomb), and their patience to succeed.


Gaurang Bhatt

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