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Nuclear Thread - 3
Advani wants joint parliamentary panel to review 123 pact

Tue, Jun 3 05:35 PM

New Delhi, June 3 (IANS) Rejecting the India-US civilian nuclear deal, Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani Tuesday called for a scrutiny by a joint parliamentary committee of the 123 agreement, stressing it should be 'redrafted' to give New Delhi the freedom to conduct nuclear tests.

'We can't do it on the written understanding that from now onwards there will be no Pokhran-III,' Advani, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate for the next general elections, said here while referring to the 123 agreement that will operationalise the nuclear deal.

'The 123 agreement should be redrafted to insulate India from the effects of the Hyde Act (the US domestic legislation on the nuclear deal) that prohibits nuclear tests by India,' Advani replied at a function when asked about his party's reservations on the nuclear deal.

India conducted its first nuclear test in Pokhran in Rajasthan in 1974 when Indira Gandhi was the prime minister. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government conducted the second set of tests, called Pokhran-II, in May 1998 and declared India a nuclear weapon state.

Reiterating his party's stand that the BJP can't be expected to support a deal that robs India of its strategic autonomy to conduct the tests, Advani asked for a review of the 123 agreement by a joint parliamentary panel.
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'In parliament, the prime minister has given us assurances many a time. But these assurances are not reflected in the 123 agreement,' said Advani, the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha.</span>

He was referring to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's repeated assurances to parliament over the last three years that the deal did not compromise India's strategic autonomy or its right to conduct nuclear tests.

'We had told the government that let 123 be considered by a joint parliamentary committee. Instead, they formed a joint committee with the Left parties,' he said.

He was responding to questions from the audience after delivering a valedictory address at a function organized by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Asscoham).

'Had the joint parliamentary committee been formed, we would have conveyed our reservations about the deal,' Advani stressed.

He, however, indicated that his party will be open to re-negotiating the deal, if it comes to power, as it is not opposed per se to a nuclear deal with the US.

'Our reservation is not that we will be getting uranium from the US. My party is not at all against getting nuclear fuel from the US,' he said while reminding the audience that it was the NDA government that started a process of rapprochement with the US.

He was trying to distinguish his party's opposition to the deal from that of the Left parties that have objected not so much to the text of the 123 agreement, but to the larger context of the deal which, according to them, will reduce India to a handmaiden of the US' strategic interests in the region.

In a document on foreign policy, the BJP Monday had asked the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition to 'end the charade' and 'take a clear stand' on the nuclear deal.

Unrelenting in its rejection of the deal, the BJP document attacked the government for its attempt 'to reduce India to a second-class status in the global nuclear order' and narrowing the multi-faceted India-US relations to 'a single issue'.

The nuclear deal is currently stalled due to the Left parties' uncompromising opposition to it. The Communist allies of the government must approve of India's safeguards pact with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) before the deal can go forward.

If the Left and the government do not mend fences on the deal, its fate will be virtually doomed - at least in the near future.
McCain vows to back Indo-US nuke deal

Wed, May 28 05:34 PM

Strongly backing the stalled civilian nuclear deal with India, presumptive Republican presidential candidate John McCain has said it would strengthen the US' ties with the world's largest democracy and further involve New Delhi in non-proliferation efforts.

"I support the US-India Civil Nuclear Accord as a means of strengthening our relationship with the world's largest democracy, and further involving India in the fight against proliferation," said in a major foreign policy speech at the University of Denver, Colorado.

McCain, 71, who has sealed the Republican nomination for the November Presidential elections said the US should engage actively with both India and Pakistan to improve the security of nuclear stockpiles and weapons materials.

McCain's remarks assume importance as doubts remain whether the landmark deal, facing opposition from the Left parties and BJP, can come through during the Bush administration's tenure.

"We should engage actively with both India and Pakistan to improve the security of nuclear stockpiles and weapon material and construct a secure global nuclear order that eliminates the likelihood of proliferation and the possibility of nuclear conflict," McCain said.

Vowing to work for total elimination of nuclear weapons, McCain also called for negotiation with China to temporarily halt production of nuclear grade material and new treaty with Russia to destroy more atomic weapons to significantly reduce the arsenal.

Manmohan Singh and Pranab Mukherjee differ on n-deal: Natwar

Mon, May 26 10:17 AM

New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) There are differences in the way Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his external affairs minister, Pranab Mukherjee, see the much-discussed India-US civilian nuclear deal, former foreign minister Natwar Singh has said.

'The prime minister says the deal is on and they will get it through but when Mukherjee is asked about it there is a big question mark. Mukherjee has even said the deal is not going to pass,' Natwar Singh told IANS in an interview.

When told that it was Mukherjee who is selling the deal to the Left parties on behalf of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), Natwar Singh said: 'Much depends on how enthusiastic he himself is about the deal'.

The India-US civilian nuclear deal has run into rough weather with the Left parties - who lend outside support to the UPA government - opposing it. The main opposition party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is also opposed to the deal in its present form.

The US government has repeatedly told the Indian government that time may be running out for the deal to materialise as the George Bush presidency enters its last leg ahead of polls.

'The UPA government has gone about the deal in the wrong manner. When it knew that parliament would not approve it, it should not have gone ahead,' said Natwar Singh, who was external affairs minister in the Manmohan Singh cabinet till December 2005. He was succeeded by Pranab Mukherjee.

Natwar Singh had to resign when he, and his son Jagat Singh, were named beneficiaries by a UN inquiry committee headed by Paul Volcker in an Iraqi oil scam.

The former minister said the draft of the civilian nuclear deal had undergone several drastic changes since he first saw and approved it as external affairs minister on July 18, 2005. 'Manmohan Singh and I saw it during our visit to Washington. I supported it then for two reasons. One, it tacitly recognised India as a nuclear power. And two, it was energy-oriented.'
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Natwar Singh said the term energy was later downplayed and non-proliferation was emphasised. 'There were no questions about the 123 agreement, the Hyde Act, or the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections then,'</span> he said.

'The US has shifted the goalpost several times,' he said, adding: 'I don't see the deal going through'.

Natwar Singh, who was in the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) before joining the Congress, said: 'The United States is selling this deal to us in an attempt to pitch us against China. We should not fall for it.

'(US President) George Bush has tried to sell it so that he can claim it as an achievement. But the next US president is not going to endorse it, whether it is John McCain (Republican candidate) or Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama (Democrat frontrunners),' Natwar Singh said.

Hey i have a question.

How do I send a personal message to another member. the feature seems de-activated for me.
The feature's disabled for all.
Leave your email in post for a day or two and then delete it.
<b>Sonia ties nuke deal to price rise</b>
UPA-left (10th) meeting postponed... THis meet now on 25th

US gives up to Jan 20th to push through the non-deal.

(Src: NDTV)
<b>Make the IAEA agreement public</b>
<!--QuoteBegin-k.ram+Jun 18 2008, 11:34 AM-->QUOTE(k.ram @ Jun 18 2008, 11:34 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->UPA-left (10th) meeting postponed... THis meet now on 25th

US gives up to Jan 20th to push through the non-deal.

(Src: NDTV)

This gives more time to the fixers to work on the hold-outs.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->This gives more time to the fixers to work on the hold-outs. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
More bribes, It seems US is presuming UPA will come back or they will make it happen.
Why they don't want to wait for NDA in power or not creating situation for snap poll?
Something is not RIGHT in current language of deal.
Left and WB had lot of visits to Kolkatta in the last 18mths from industrialists such as Swaraj Paul, Tata and Infosys. All these companies have put money in the lobby to get the deal passed along with the US companies in the Chambers of commerce. Only thing is that they failed to look at the fine print regarding testing and future path of the strategic program for the country. How did this happen. Was there nobody to look at this fine print or was it a tacit agreement.

To me this is clearly a conspiratorial view. Those companies support this deal because they expect $$ from increased US-India commerce. <b>It is not reasonable to tie those companies' view to nuclear testing. Companies don't give a rat's ass whether this deal thwarts testing or not. They have no reason to read or not read the fine print.
Other argument you made was to tie this deal to US-China economic conference. I'd be willing to bet my retirement savings that not one word regarding India-US nuclear deal was ever mentioned in US-China economic meetings. They have too many serious issues such as Yuan appreciation, trade deficit, IP rights etc to discuss. These sorts of things IMHO distract from serious arguments for or against the deal.
Dated one, but wondered if anyone is privy to this


<b>Perspectives on the U.S. - India Civil Nuclear Deal</b>
Date: April 15, 2008
Time: 2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi
<b>Chief National Spokesperson of the Congress Party,</b>
Member of the Indian Parliament, and
Senior Attorney of the Supreme Court of India

Lisa Curtis
Senior Research Fellow for South Asia,
Asian Studies Center,
The Heritage Foundation

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

Time may be running out for the full completion of the U.S.-India civil nuclear deal. India must take important steps in the process before the U.S. Congress will vote on the deal, and the fast-approaching U.S. presidential election means the clock is ticking for the Congressional calendar. Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Chief National Spokesperson for the Congress Party, has debated the nuclear deal on the floor of the Indian Parliament, on behalf of the ruling Congress Party. <b>Dr. Singhvi will discuss Indian perspectives of the deal, the possible maneuvers to bring the agreement to completion</b>, and other ways to continue strengthening the U.S.-India relationship after the nuclear deal. We hope you can join us for this timely and important discussion.
5 Scenarios for India -US Nuclear Deal

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--> * Having invested heavily in the deal, India's government defies its communists allies and goes ahead with it, while also calling early elections. The government has ruled this out, and early elections are seen as very unlikely in the face of soaring inflation. * Indian communists allow the government to negotiate an India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but not let the deal go any further.

This would mean the pact would have to be taken up after elections in the U.S. this year and India next year, but at least some progress would have been made. So far, the communists oppose this option.

* The deal remains stalled and is taken up in its present form by new governments in India and the United States after elections in the two countries. This is a possibility given the business, diplomatic and energy compulsions behind the deal in the first place.

* New governments in both countries decide to renegotiate the deal. This is also a realistic possibility, but renegotiation could be a long and painful process, with no guarantee a new agreement would be reached palatable to both sides.

* The deal is dropped entirely. So far, the two governments have been unwilling to admit failure, but it is possible the agreement could die a slow death out of the public eye.

(Compiled by Krittivas Mukherjee; Editing by Simon Denyer and Jerry Norton)
Russia urges India to sign the deal
<b>Is it end-deal</b>?

<b>Countdown Begins: You can’t go to Vienna, says Left, leaving UPA with only two options: either go for broke or give in, last a full term; next meeting June 25 </b>

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Express news service
Posted online: Thursday, June 19, 2008 at 0012 hrs IST
New Delhi, June 18

<b>What the Congress kept delaying finally happened today: its moment of reckoning has come, after the Left made it clear it would not let the Government go to Vienna to confirm the safeguards agreement, the key first piece in the operationalisation of the Indo-US nuclear deal. </b>

The party’s top brass went into a huddle at 10, Janpath faced with perhaps the toughest choice since they took charge four years ago: give in to the Left and freeze the Indo-US nuclear deal to keep the government alive and a line with the Left open in an election year or seize the historic opportunity and stamp the party’s commitment to the “national interest.”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who spoke to Congress President Sonia Gandhi on the phone, was learnt to have argued in favour of going ahead with the deal after the Left issued a statement that it was of the “firm opinion” that “the government should not proceed to seek approval of the text of the India-specific safeguards agreement from the Board of Directors of the IAEA.”

This Left statement came a few hours after the government deferred today’s UPA-Left meeting to June 25 as External Affairs Minister <b>Pranab Mukherjee’s discussions with CPM general secretary Prakash Karat on Monday and Tuesday failed to make any headway. The Left also said it did not get the full text of the agreement. </b>

Official sources said that it had been conveyed to the Left that sharing the entire text would be a “breach of faith” as in the IAEA system, “an agreement is not an agreement” until it’s taken to the Board of Governors.

CPM Politburo member <b>Sitaram Yechury had called on Congress President Sonia Gandhi last night to convey the Left’s decision that it was prepared to pull the rug if the government went to Vienna. </b>

In the evening, Sonia Gandhi, her political secretary Ahmad Patel, Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister A K Antony weighed the government’s options.

<b>They were understood to have been unanimous that going ahead with the deal was in the national interest given that it ended India’s nuclear isolation and would help address a growing economy’s energy needs and the severe shortage of fuel across the country’s nuclear installations. </b> {ofcourse they would}

But the discussion within the party has invariably turned to the compulsions of politics in an election year, the “risk of an early election” especially at a time when inflation is creeping towards double digits.

One of the views proffered was whether it was worth sacrificing the government when it was not even clear if the deal would become a reality through the different stages at the IAEA and the NSG. For, if the UPA proceeded to the IAEA, the Left was set to reduce it to a minority government, which would anyways undermine its legitimacy to ink the 123 agreement. Another view was that once the IAEA agreement and the NSG exemption are in place, the “momentum” of the deal — for then it would have gone from being an Indo-US agreement to one with over 40 countries — would push it over any obstacles.

While the Congress is apprehensive of the government being reduced to a minority, CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan suggested that the Left would not vote against the government if the BJP were to move a no-confidence motion against it. “Why should we vote? Minority Governments have existed in the country in the past,” he told The Indian Express when asked whether the Left will vote against the government with the BJP.

<b>CPM sources said that a minority government cannot ink a major international agreement like this — a point that even Pranab Mukherjee has made earlier — and the nuclear deal would be “effectively dead” if the government became a minority. </b>

<b>After over an hour-long discussion, Congress leaders arrived at a decision to take all UPA partners on board before making or breaking the nuke deal at the UPA-Left meeting on June 25.</b> The UPA constituents were cautious in their reaction even as they supported the government’s stance. When Mukherjee telephoned RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav today, the latter was said to have said that the deal was in the national interest adding that it would be better if UPA and the Left stayed together.

“I am hopeful that this issue would be sorted out despite stiff opposition by the Left parties. Not only the Left parties but everybody in the UPA is concerned about the national interest. The issue does not pose any threat to the UPA government,” LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan told The Indian Express.

DMK leader T R Baalu also called on Sonia Gandhi at 10, Janpath from where he left for the CPM office to meet Karat. “It is in everybody’s interest, in the interest of the nation that the government should not not fall on this issue,” Baalu told reporters when asked if the government should be sacrificed for the deal. “We want everybody on board, the UPA constituents as well as the Left,” he added.

<b>Deal timetable: Why Yes/No needs to be decided this month</b>

<i>India’s best chance to revive international momentum on the nuclear deal is during the PM’s visit to Japan on July 7-9 July for the G8 Summit. Even if the UPA decides to go ahead, it faces a tough timeline for which a political push will be needed from US President George W Bush. In the best case scenario, the timetable would be somthing like this: </i>

• Singh meets leaders from France, Russia, China, UK, Japan, Germany, South Africa, Brazil (all key NSG members) at G8; gets Bush to put his weight behind the deal as special meetings of IAEA Board and the NSG would have to be called.
• India completes formalities with IAEA, hopes Board of Governors will call special meeting in July.
• Special meeting of NSG convened immediately so that US can formally propose exemption for India. NSG will take at least two months, if not more, as many members have domestic non-proliferation laws and will need to discuss matters internally.
• Goal: US makes a Presidential determination and 123 goes to US Congress before it breaks up in September. This is vital as “fresh matters” not usually introduced during lameduck session in November (election month).
• Indications that Democrats would prefer Bush Administration to clear the deal; chances that 123 cleared in lameduck session.

<b>PM may defy Left, go to IAEA </b>

Bengaluru, June 18: The nuclear deal between the US and India has looked ever more uncertain in the past year. But the fate of the UPA government after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh abruptly called off talks with his government’s powerful Left allies on Wednesday is looking equally fraught. <b>Sources have indicated that this was no “postponement” but a cancellation, as the first step towards the Congress going ahead with the next steps on closing the nuclear deal.</b>

The government has publicly said that the arrival of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and high-level talks with the visiting Syrian delegation required the services of external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, who has remained the chief interlocutor these many months with Mr Prakash Karat of the CPI(M). <b>But there are persistent reports from within the Congress that indicate Dr Singh has finally lost his patience with Mr Karat’s intransigence and instructed Mr Mukherjee to call off his talks with the Left leaders.</b>

Sources said he had Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s complete backing and that she had set the stage for the move by making her first unambiguous statement supporting the deal in Guwahati five days ago after months of silence. After Wednesday’s talks were called off, the CPI(M)’s Nilotpal Basu reiterated the Left’s stance that it does not want India to take the next step and negotiate with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Unlike before, he stopped short of saying they would pull out of the government if the Congress went ahead.

Dr Singh made no public comment as he did in August 2007 when he said in an interview to Kolkata’s Telegraph — “I told them to do whatever they want to do, if they want to withdraw support, so be it” — after Mr Karat’s statement that laid out the reasons his party objects to the deal. Sources in New Delhi said Dr Singh and Mrs Gandhi had realised that the marriage of convenience between the Congress and the Left had lost its utility and there was little point in prolonging the alliance after it became obvious that the Left was weakening in its bastion, West Bengal, where it had been badly mauled in the panchayat elections. The Left’s constant criticism on the NREGA, price rise and the fuel price hike have only soured relations.

<b>Congress-Left near break-up on nuclear deal</b>
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Congress-Left near break-up on nuclear deal<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->No, Moron Singh and Sonia led Congress is read sell India for cheapest price. They are traitors.
They are ready to cap nukes and keep hafta in its own kitty.
Why they are not ready to disclose what they had signed with IAEA?
Last I heard, India is a democratic country not a whore of Moron or Queen and its meons.

<b>G-8 Funding Likely to Boost Indian Nuclear Power</b>

<b>A nuclear King Canute</b>
<i>India’s relations with the US are headed for a downturn, should Barack Obama be elected president</i><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->If, despite its inability to muster even a bare majority in Parliament, the present regime pushes this deal through at the eleventh hour, as is being rumoured, we should be aware of what awaits India in an Obama presidency. The US has traditionally been extremely legalistic in interpreting international agreements, especially regarding obligations undertaken by other countries (with little or no sanctity being accorded its own treaty commitments, to wit, the 1963 Tarapur Agreement requiring Washington to uninterruptedly provide the American-supplied reactor with fuel for its lifetime, which was broken with impunity). With Obama, a Harvard-trained lawyer, at the helm, Washington can be expected to realize the Hyde Act in its minutiae. <b>This will leave New Delhi with no room for manoeuvre or for escape from the punitive provisions of this Act—the irrelevant 123 Agreement or no 123 Agreement.</b> <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Why current govt care about India, when banks are smiling? It should be -
<i> this will leave 10 Janpath and family to settle in Zug, Swiss for generations and Moron Singh near Islamabad surrounding his friends and food</i>
Where should India position itself on the elimination issue?
Kanwal Sibal

The elimination of nuclear weapons has resurfaced as a proposition after four former American secretaries of state and defence — George Schulz, Henry Kissinger, William Perry and Samuel Nunn — mentioned this possibility in newspaper articles in January 2007 and earlier this year. The previous British foreign minister and the Norwegian foreign minister welcomed this initiative. Senators McCain and Obama, the two American presidential candidates, have endorsed it, raising hopes that the idea of elimination may make some headway with the new administration in the United States of America. <b>It is a dramatic demonstration of the US’s soft power that it can present for serious global discussion simply through op-ed pieces themes it had itself firmly rejected previously as impractical and illusory.</b>

The skeptics, naturally, probe the hidden agenda of these quintessential cold warriors now espousing a radical agenda associated with fantasy-driven peaceniks. Is it that it is easier to make a bid to go down in history after retirement? <b>Realpolitik dictated their thinking and actions when in power; the same realpolitik, it is suspected, dictates the proposed agenda.</b>

Is it because they recognize the need for change in the American approach to the badly handled security and non-proliferation agenda? The US has been weakened politically, morally, economically and even militarily by the reckless policies of the neo-conservatives. The collapse of the Soviet Union persuaded them that history had come to an end with this triumph of Western political and economic values over communist ideology. <b>With no countervailing power left, they set about reshaping the world according to their wishes, attempting to consolidate their strategic advantage over others durably, with accompanying doctrines like that of regime change. </b>

The arms control agenda with Russia was dropped and the anti-ballistic missile treaty was abrogated. A Nato expansion eastwards began, and this policy continues despite Russian objections. September 11, 2001 traumatized the US, strengthening the proclivities of the administration to act unilaterally to protect US interests. The invasion of Iraq epitomized the neo-conservative agenda in its counter-proliferation, regime change, democracy promotion, pro-Israeli and hydrocarbon dimensions.

Iraq has been a quagmire, decisively shattering US unipolar ambitions. Afghanistan is in turmoil with the resuscitation of the Taliban threat, demonstrating again that the US cannot handle such problems alone. The combat against terrorism requires, in any case, collective international action to be successful.

North Korea’s decision to repudiate the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and its announcement that it had tested and now possesses nuclear weapons have shown the US’s incapacity to deal with this problem on its own and the critical need to obtain China’s cooperation. Iran’s defiance of the international community on the uranium enrichment issue has also proved the limits of the US’s counter-proliferation doctrines and policies of regime change. <b>If Iran cannot eventually be deterred from mastering the technology and accumulating the ingredients to make nuclear weapons, while legally staying within the NPT provisions, the danger of the NPT regime collapsing would be real. </b>

<b>As it is, the NPT regime is in serious trouble. It was extended permanently without amendment in 1995 through high-pressure tactics by the US and other Western nuclear weapon states (NWS). </b>The non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS) increasingly accuse the NWS of not honouring their part of the grand bargain by not fulfilling their obligations under Article 6 to move towards nuclear disarmament while, at the same time, demanding that the NNWS submit themselves to ever more stringent non-proliferation conditions for obtaining entitled civilian nuclear energy cooperation under the treaty. The earlier Iraqi case and now the Iranian case have mobilized the US and others to seek a tightening of the safeguards regime of the International Atomic Energy Authority and, more important, propose denying to the NNWS not already possessing such facilities, the right to set up national facilities to manufacture nuclear fuel.

Both the US and Russia advocate the creation of multilateral facilities to provide nuclear fuel to those countries desirous to build nuclear power reactors. With the oil and gas prices shooting up to unaffordable heights and with shortages looming ahead, besides climate change reasons strongly favouring clean energy, many countries, even those rich in hydrocarbons, have ambitions to develop nuclear grids, raising concerns about runaway proliferation in the years ahead.

<b>Work in the conference on disarmament in Geneva is effectively at a standstill since many years because of unresolved differences over the negotiating agendas. The US presses for negotiations on the fissile material control treaty to begin, but without any verification provisions, which is opposed by many, including India. The Chinese have blocked these negotiations, linking them to those on the issue of weaponization of outer space, which the US opposes. China fears the vulnerability of its nuclear deterrent to the American space-based weaponry, which is precisely the area of the US’s superiority. </b>

<b>The comprehensive test ban treaty has not come into force so far because some critical states like the US and China have not ratified it.</b> The US has periodically spoken about developing new nuclear weapons. Russia is developing new missiles and submarines to penetrate US ballistic missile defences so that the deterrent value of its nuclear panoply can be preserved. China, too, is developing upgraded intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarines to bolster its deterrent.

Neither the US nor Russia is ready to support moves in favour of no-first-use of nuclear weapons as a confidence-building measure, or removing hundreds of weapons still on hair-trigger alert on both sides.

So, where does the new initiative to eliminate nuclear weapons fit in? In actual fact, at the bilateral US-Russia level, mutually assured destruction remains the operative security framework despite the end of the Cold War. <b>Russia suspects that the elimination initiative is a ploy by the US to perpetuate its military domination because of its overwhelming conventional superiority</b>. Russia foresees the possibility of further reductions in the nuclear arsenals of the two principal nuclear powers, but is very skeptical about the possibility of total elimination. <b>Because 95 per cent of the existing nuclear weapons are in the hands of the US and Russia, it is recognized that the other three NWS will not join the process even of reductions, much less elimination, unless there are further substantial cuts in the American and Russian arsenals. The first need therefore is to revive the US-Russia arms-control agenda.</b>

Where should India position itself on the elimination issue? In 1988, India had presented a comprehensive proposal for a nuclear-weapon-free, non-violent world at the United Nations. India as a NNWS had reason and self-interest to propose such a plan. As a NWS now, although not officially recognized as such, its approach has to be different. In the background of the 1988 plan, we would be keen to have our ideas vindicated, but we should avoid putting ourselves in a position where our strong espousal of elimination generates pressure on us to take some intermediate steps, such as signing the CTBT and declaring a moratorium voluntarily on the production of fissile material as a gauge of our genuine commitment to a nuclear-weapon-free world.

Elimination of nuclear weapons will prove a proposition practically impossible to implement, given the inordinately complex nature of the issue. Ultimately it will get limited to an arms-control and non-proliferation agenda. We should neither get locked into arms-control arrangements prematurely nor allow ourselves to be subject to tighter nonproliferation restrictions applicable to NNWS. <b>Our rhetoric on elimination should not compromise the substance of our as-yet-incomplete deterrent.</b>

<i>The author is former foreign secretary of India Sibalkanwal@gmail.com </i>

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