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Nuclear Thread - 3
I think this is to divert attention for inflation and failed government policies.
Current situation is like what we felt during 1990-92 in India, hopelessness phase among middle class.
We are now half way between Jaipur blast and normal time gap, three months.
<b>PM ready to face Parliament on N-deal: Congress leader</b>
Onkar Singh in New Delhi | June 25, 2008 00:02 IST

Stressing that there is nothing secretive about the Indo-US nuclear deal, a senior Congress leader said the prime minister is ready to face Parliament before the deal is operationalised.

Asked about the Left's apprehensions, the top leader, seeking anonymity, told rediff.com, "There is no need to get apprehensive. No deal is made public before it is notified that the deal would come into effect from a particular date. Both the countries which sign the deal get something out of this. I think it has been wrongly called Indo-US deal. In fact it is a multi-lateral deal. Dr Singh is ready to take Parliament into confidence before it is opperationalised. Merely signing of the agreement does not mean that it becomes operational. It would have to be endorsed by the Cabinet before further action is taken."

Meanwhile, Moti Lal Vohra, senior leader, denied reports that Manmohan Singh had resigned to put pressure on the party to support his stand.

"Sonia Gandhi has already backed Dr Singh and there is no question of going back. As far as Dr Singh's trip to Japan is concerned, there time left. We know that <b>the time is running out </b>for both the governments, <b>particularly United States</b>. PM will meet President Bush in Japan in the first week of July," said a top party leader.
<!--QuoteBegin-ramana+Jun 26 2008, 08:59 PM-->QUOTE(ramana @ Jun 26 2008, 08:59 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Interestng that MMS wants to send Pranab Mukherjee to G-8 mtg instead of himself incase the Left stalls the IAEA signature. The thought is a principled man like him would quit na?

So in all probability this ia another drama going on to pressure India by Indians onlee.

Google Cache of news stories

Indeed. MMS is an honorable man..
Every Indian op-ed writer of all shades is convinced that the Leftists are carrying the message of the PRC. And all uniformly decry the Leftists for thwarting the deal.

In all this unified opposition to the deal from the Commies and Leftists are we seeing a subtle message from the PRC that nuclear India is acceptable but not an India allied with the US even if its at whatever level?
<!--emo&Sad--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/sad.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='sad.gif' /><!--endemo--> Karat said in view of the recent Government talks that the completion of IAEA ritual was also necessary for Nuclear arrangement with France and Russia was a pretext to fool the Left. "Hence there will be no compromise on the issue of the Government approaching the IAEA Board for approval of the Safeguards Agreement. The only escape route from the crisis will be, Karat tells Prime Minister, "not proceed any further on the deal".

Instead the PMO should concentrate on how to tackle the price rise and hurtling inflation. "Obsession with the Nuke should not make us blind to Government failures to contain or check price rise," Karat advised the PMO.

Cong parries questions

PNS | New Delhi: Karat minced no words in blaming Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the current crisis, but the Congress's response was lukewarm.

Though the ruling party threw its weight behind the Prime Minister, insisting that the nuclear deal was in 'national interest', it just refused to give a strong reply to Karat's statement.
As the Congress core group met on Friday evening, there was growing feeling in the party that it should "take the political call without wasting a moment". Several leaders expressed a sense of urgency in taking this decision. A senior leader said: "It is now or never. We have to take a call right now on whether we want the deal. If we delay the decision any further it will only add to uncertainty, which is not good."
Karat blames Manmohan's bid to go to IAEA

Fri, Jun 27 02:31 PM

CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat on Friday held Prime Minister Manmohan Singh squarely responsible for the present crisis over the nuclear deal, but was silent on whether the Left will vote against the Government in the event of withdrawal of support to it.

"What is the cause for this ongoing crisis? The answer lies squarely in the Prime Minister's renewed bid to go to the IAEA for seeking the approval of the Board of Governors on the text of the safeguards agreement," he said in his first comments after the UPA-Left joint mechanism failed to break the logjam, pushing their ties to the brink.

Maintaining that there will be "no compromise" on the issue of Government approaching the IAEA board for approval of the India-specific safeguards agreement, the hardline Communist leader said it was an "essential step" for taking the nuclear deal forward and for operationalising the 123 Agreement.

After the virtual burial of the consultation mechanism, the Left is bracing for a break in ties with the ruling UPA as it feels that the Government is planning to approach the IAEA board to confirm the safeguards agreement.

Though Karat wrote at length about how the Government and the Congress leadership have pushed through a strategic alliance with the US knowing fully well that the Left will never be party to it, he was silent on the Left strategy after the separation, which seems imminent now.

Congress circles are already thinking about a scenario in which the Left parties part ways with the UPA Government but do not vote against the ruling coalition.

Karat referred to the UPA's failed attempts to convince the Left that the IAEA approval would pave the way for nuclear cooperation with Russia and France, saying "nothing can be further from truth". "It is posed as if the 123 agreement is off the agenda. Nothing can be further from the truth," he said.

In unusually strong words against Singh, Karat, in an article in the latest issue of party mouthpiece People's Democracy, accused his Government of being "obsessed with its vision of becoming a strategic partner of the US" at a time when the priority should be to tackle inflation.

"If the priorities of our country and the people are kept in mind, the Government should be engaged on a war footing to curb inflation and price rise and take urgent measures to provide relief to the people. But the last fortnight has exposed what the priorities of the Government are," he said.

Karat, however, gave some veiled threats: "One can only hope that the Congress leadership will realise the serious consequences of pursuing a pro-US line which can only benefit the rightwing communal forces in the country."

Asserting that the urgency to approach the IAEA board runs contrary to the understanding between UPA and Left last year, Karat alleged that the schedule set out by the US was "impelling the Prime Minister to go ahead regardless of the consequences" and without the conclusions of the joint nuclear committee.

"The committee has not arrived at any conclusions on the nature of the safeguards agreement nor has the committee reached its findings after which only the Government can think of proceeding," he said.

The "urgency" was at the "insistence of the Bush administration" so the Americans could take the step of formally initiating the process in the Nuclear Suppliers Group to get a waiver for nuclear trade with India before his term expires, he said.

"The Bush administration knows very well that there is no time for the 123 Agreement to be passed by the current US Congress. By the time the NSG clearance is got it will be too late for the US Congress to consider and adopt the 123 law.

"President Bush wants to ensure in the last few discredited months of his presidency that at least the Indo-US nuclear deal will remain as a legacy to be taken up by the next president. This will have some certainty if the NSG clearance is got before his term expires," he said.

The Left parties had explicitly stated that without its concurrence there should be no step forward on the IAEA front and this was acknowledged by the Congress leadership, he added.

Left argument on N-deal "absurd": Cong

Sat, Jun 28 09:18 AM

New Delhi, June 28 (PTI) Hitting back at CPI(M) a day after its attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress today said the Communist parties are indulging in irrational and "absurd arguments" on the Indo-US nuclear deal. Citing rising oil prices, the party justified the nuclear deal as being essential for the country's energy needs and warned that the country's economic growth was being endangered by "blind ideological obduracy".

A day after Prakash Karat's article attacking the Prime Minister appeared, Congress spokesman Veerappa Moily issued a seven-page statement countering the arguments forwarded by CPI(M) General Secretary. "The Left's objections (to nuclear deal) are ideological rather than rational and it has fallen back on absurd arguments," said the statement which quotes former President A P J Abdul Kalam as well as some scientists to defend the nuclear deal.

"If Russia and America, China and Pakistan and China and Russia are all busy signing civil nuclear deals, should India forego pursuing its interests? .

Obstructing the deal means that the nation's energy security and its ability to withstand future oil price shocks would be further reduced," Moily said. PTI.

Govt. awaits Lefts approach on Indo-US nuke deal

Sat, Jun 28 08:35 PM

Dera Baba Nanak (Punjab), June 28 (ANI): The Central government awaits Left's approach on Indo-US nuke deal, as External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said they are in touch with the Left parties and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) allies to resolve the stalemate over the issue.

He was speaking to media during his visit to Dera Baba Nanak on Saturday in Punjab.

"We are in touch with the left leaders, we are in touch with other leaders, other UPA partners and it is a very important National issue, so we are talking to them and let's see what comes out of that," said Mukherjee.

Government is eagerly waiting for the outcome of the meeting of Left parties on July 3 to decide their strategy about the nuke deal, which has run into rough weather.

"They (the leaders of Left parties) are meeting on third (July). So after that what is their approach will be known," added Mukherjee.

Government is leaving no stone unturned to translate the deal into reality but the Left parties are against the deal.

The deal needs clearances from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group before it can go to the U.S. Congress for final approval.

But it might already be getting too late as the US gears up for presidential elections. (ANI)

ANALYSIS: More `near-nuclear' states may loom

By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent 1 hour, 47 minutes ago

It may have rattled windows and raised dust, but the blast that toppled a towering symbol of North Korea's atom-bomb project was a mere blip on a world map where more and more states may "go nuclear" — or nearly so — in the years to come.

At a recent meeting of members of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the Ukrainian chairman sought to strike an upbeat note about the future, highlighting the "public and political momentum towards a world free of nuclear weapons."

Volodyrmyr Yelchenko was right: Statesmen as diverse as Henry Kissinger and Mikhail Gorbachev have taken up the cause of "nuclear abolition." And this year's U.S. presidential contenders both support a more favorable American stance toward arms control.

But other forces are pushing back. Renewed interest in nuclear energy, to stem global warming, is expected to give more states the technological building blocks for a bomb. The continuing revelations about the Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan's network, which reportedly had blueprints for a compact weapon, show that globalized nuclear smuggling is growing more sophisticated and dangerous.

As much as anything, the perpetuation of the exclusive club of "accepted" nuclear powers — from old hands America and Russia to newest members India and Pakistan — may lead others, frustrated with such a two-tier world, to consider challenging the doomsday cartel.

Even if North Korea follows through on Friday's destruction of the cooling tower at its Yongbyon complex and fully dismantles its weapons program, giving up its handful of bombs, it will still belong to another club of nuclear-capable states.

Those are the 40-plus countries with the scientists, engineers and infrastructure for building bombs — and in at least one other case, that of South Africa, a history of having done so.

About a dozen are nuclear "rollback" states, ranging from Sweden and Switzerland, which seriously researched the weapon option in the 1950s and 1960s and then pulled back, to Iraq under Saddam Hussein, which desperately tried, and failed, to produce a bomb before the 1991 Gulf war.

Rebecca Hersman, a proliferation expert at Washington's National Defense University, stresses that nuclear rollback is "a process, not an outcome." Those who have been there before could go that way again.

"Success in the past by no means assures success in the future," Hersman says. The dominoes could fall the other way.

Success in the future, the specialists say, depends heavily on success in "rolling back" North Korea and Iran, which is accused by Washington and others of clandestinely planning a bomb. Iran denies that, saying its atomic program is aimed at using nuclear reactors to generate electricity.

If North Korea balks at final disarmament, if Iran moves toward an atomic arsenal despite international pressure, some of their neighbors may reconsider the nuclear option.

South Korea, still technically at war with the north, had a secret nuclear weapons program it abandoned in the 1970s, under U.S. pressure. Hersman says its first-rate nuclear-power industry today puts Seoul in an excellent position to quickly build a bomb if it feels threatened.

Across the Sea of Japan, in the only nation to have suffered atomic bombings, the possibility of a made-in-Japan bomb was a taboo subject for a half-century. In recent years, however, as the North Korean threat loomed larger, Tokyo's leadership has spoken more openly of that option. Its leading-edge nuclear establishment is well equipped for it.

Taiwan, another Asian "rollback" state, launched a secret weapons program in the 1970s, as it watched U.S.-China relations thaw and feared losing its American nuclear shield. By the late 1980s, under U.S. pressure, it ended its flirtation with the ultimate weapon, but it's believed capable of quickly reviving the program if tensions heighten with nuclear-armed China.

In step with Iran's year-by-year advances in uranium enrichment, a process key to both nuclear power and bomb-making, Saudi Arabia and Tehran's other Arab rivals across the Persian Gulf have plunged into planning for nuclear power, with French and U.S. help. The Arabs' Gulf Cooperation Council has proposed its own regional uranium-enrichment operation.

In Egypt, last January's announcement of plans for its first nuclear power plant could signal something of a "bounceback" four decades after nationalist President Gamal Abdel Nasser briefly explored the idea of nuclear arms.

Those who monitor such developments don't predict rapidly falling dominoes — an impending "breakout" of new weapons states. Robert J. Einhorn, a former U.S. government arms-control specialist, notes that over the past 40 years more nations abandoned weapons programs than initiated them.

Instead, other countries may follow "rollback" state Brazil's example, positioning themselves as compliant with the Nonproliferation Treaty's ban on bombs, but equipping themselves with the power technology — enrichment centrifuges — that enable them "to move rapidly to weaponization if and when needed," as Einhorn says.

For some, near-nuclear may be near enough.


Charles J. Hanley has reported on nuclear-weapons issues for more than 20 years.

Congress slams Left on nuke deal

New Delhi (PTI): Hitting back at CPI(M) a day after its attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress on Saturday said the Communist parties are indulging in irrational and "absurd arguments" on the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Citing rising oil prices, the party justified the nuclear deal as being essential for the country's energy needs and warned that the country's economic growth was being endangered by "blind ideological obduracy".

A day after Prakash Karat's article attacking the Prime Minister appeared, Congress spokesman Veerappa Moily issued a seven-page statement countering the arguments forwarded by CPI(M) General Secretary.

"The Left's objections (to nuclear deal) are ideological rather than rational and it has fallen back on absurd arguments," said the statement which quotes former President A P J Abdul Kalam as well as some scientists to defend the nuclear deal.

"If Russia and America, China and Pakistan and China and Russia are all busy signing civil nuclear deals, should India forego pursuing its interests? ..Obstructing the deal means that the nation's energy security and its ability to withstand future oil price shocks would be further reduced," Moily said.

Insisting that nuclear deal is crucial for India to meet the energy requirement, Moily said "larger questions" should be posed to "those who imperil our energy security, which is interlinked with our economic security as well as our national security, for short-term political considerations".

Alleging that "prejudices" have "overtaken reason" regarding the deal's pros and cons, the Congress spokesman said "reviewing or analysing them is useless".

Arguing that the deal will not only help in making India self-reliant with respect to energy requirements but also help in ending the country's nuclear apartheid, Moily said, "we are endangering our economic growth prospects for short-term electoral prospects or due to blind ideological obduracy".

To Left's question about "hurry" in going ahead with the nuclear deal, Moily retorted by pointing out that eight months had lapsed since the Communist parties' "special dialogue" with the government over the issue.

On the Left parties' claim that the government had not given it the text of the draft IAEA agreement, the Congress spokesman said the Communist parties have "an official summary pertaining to all core issues".

In his virtual point-by-point reply to Left contention, he also rejected the argument that the government, rather than the nuclear deal, should fast-forward the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline deal to mitigate energy crisis. "The pipeline is not an alternative to the nuclear deal," he said.

Seeking to delink inflation from the nuclear deal, Moily said there is no connection between the two.

<b>$100 billion American dollars , Lalu goes for wooing Samajwadi Party with share of the possible kickbacks , Sonia reluctant to share </b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Jun. 28, 2008
American corporation will make $100 billion by selling nuclear reactors to India. Congress party and the UPA leadership cannot forego the possible underhand kickbacks from that. In the middle of crumbling UPA coalition, <b>Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Indian master of corruption has finally assumed the leadership of sharing the kickback bounty.</b>

He met Congress President Sonia Gandhi and is understood to have discussed the issues related to the impasse over the Indo-US nuclear deal.

<b>Money talks. Lalu now says Samajwadi Party has a wide popular base, it is secular and socialist.</b>

Lalu is trying his best to broker a deal between UPA and SP to replace the Left p[arties in the coalition. His approach is simple. It better to have some of the American kickbacks than none. It is better to share and have some that none. Sonia Gandhi is not that sure about sharing the bounty with the SP. She wants to keep her share intact just like Bofors.

Sonia Gandhi on Saturday asked party leaders to get ready for general elections by the year end, party sources said, as the Left vowed to take back its support to the government over the India-US nuclear deal.

At a meeting of the Congress general secretaries and leaders in charge of the states at her residence here, Gandhi asked them to prepare for elections by November or December

PM Out Of Sync With Indian Realities


A parliamentary democracy like India must have as Prime Minister a person popularly elected to the Lok Sabha so that his feet are firmly rooted on the soil of the land. Though Manmohan Singh is not the first Prime Minister to reach that position from the Rajya Sabha, he is the only one to shy away from the people’s verdict. Indira Gandhi resigned her Rajya Sabha seat on becoming Prime Minister and got elected to the Lok Sabha in the first available by-election. So did Inder Kumar Gujral and HD Deve Gowda who too were Rajya Sabha members at the time of becoming Prime Minister.

<b>Manmohan Singh got elected to the Rajya Sabha from Assam, claiming to be a resident of Guwahati, which the entire nation knows is false. </b>To substantiate his claim, he produced in the Supreme Court a ration card issued by the Assam government, rent and electricity bills of a house in Guwahati which was not his usual place of residence. <b>With no political base in the country, it is not surprising that Manmohan Singh has been pursuing the bilateral Indo-US civil nuclear co-operation with single-minded determination, even at the risk of disintegration of the United Progressive Alliance which put him in the gaddi in the first place.</b>

Is nuclear electricity essential for India's energy security?<b> Information gathered from the Planning Commission’s projections and other published official records show that it is not.</b> The Planning Commission Expert Committee on Integrated Energy Policy (2006) says: “The country is energy secure when we can supply lifeline energy to all our citizens as well as meet their effective demand for safe and convenient energy to satisfy various needs at affordable costs at all times with a prescribed confidence considering shocks and disruptions that can be reasonably expected.”

To achieve this, India must increase its primary energy supply by three to four times and its electricity generation capacity by five to six times of its 2003-2004 levels. <b>By the year 2030, power generation capacity must increase to nearly 800,000 MW from the current capacity of 160,000 MW. This translates, in simple arithmetic, to an annual addition of about 29,000 MW.</b>

In the event Manmohan Singh succeeds in pushing through the nuclear deal with the USA before President George Bush demits office in January 2009, India will be able to add at the most 30,000 MW by the year 2030 using imported power generation machinery, <b>which works out to less than five per cent of the projected 800,000 MW.</b> <b>Can this provide energy security by any stretch of imagination?</b>

According to the country’s top nuclear scientists, <b>the real issue facing India is whether or not we want “mythical extra energy security through this deal paying thrice the unit capital cost of conventional power plants with the additional burden of subjecting the freedom to pursue an independent foreign policy and indigenous nuclear R & D programme</b>.” The Indo-US nuclear agreement is untenable because it is anchored in US domestic laws, including the Hyde Act. At the height of the no holds-barred sale pitch for the agreement, Manmohan Singh hailed it as India’s “nuclear renaissance.” This was the echo of a phrase coined for the 2002 Washington DC conference of nuclear industry executives and the US government officials to boost the comeback of commercial nuclear power. Subsequent statements of the Prime Minister and sarkari scientists and intellectuals would have us believe that “nuclear renaissance” was the ultimate panacea to make poverty quit India and propel the nation as a super power. <b>A cruel joke on the people groaning under the ill effects of double-digit inflation.</b>

Manmohan Singh is a recognised economist of international repute. <b>If only he had devoted a fraction of his attention to the sorry plight Finance Minister P Chidambaram had landed the country in by his reckless mismanagement of its financial health</b>, the Prime Minister would have done a great service to the people of this country. <b>The prospects of nuclear energy as an option are limited by four unresolved problems: high relative cost, perceived adverse safety, environmental and health effects, potential security risks stemming from proliferation and unresolved challenges in long-term management of nuclear wastes, according to a joint report prepared by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.</b>

For these risks to be worth taking, says a 2007 report by an Oxford University Research Group, “nuclear power must be able to achieve energy security and a reduction in global C02 emissions more effectively, efficiently, economically and quickly than any other energy source. There is little evidence to support the claim that it can, whereas the evidence for doubting nuclear power’s efficacy is clear.” In short, nuclear power is costly, unsafe, risk-prone, supply-side option incapable of providing energy security and incapable of responding to the challenges of global warming and climate change. What are the alternatives then? With seven per cent of global reserves of coal, providing 56 per cent of India’s commercial energy supply, coal gasification combined cycle process, an emerging technology for clean and efficient coal fueled electricity generation, is worth pursuing vigorously.

India is well endowed with renewable sources of energy. Latest estimates give the potential for wind power at 45,000 MW; small hydro-power at 15,000 MW; biomasspower/co-generation at 19,500 MW and waste-to-energy at 4,200 MW, making a total of 83,700 MW. <b>Of these, only 13 per cent has been exploited so far.</b>

India has unlimited solar power and ocean energy, but is unable to exploit these due to lack of sufficient R & D. With estimated reserves of 360,000 tonnes of thorim, India could develop the thorium fuel cycle instead of relying on imported uranium. Former President Abdul Kalam never missed an opportunity to stress the importance of developing the thorium cycle route but it fell on deaf ears of the UPA government. Thanks to the efforts of the earlier governments, the first ever commercial Fast Breeder Reactor of 500 MW capacity is nearing completion at Kalpakkam in Tamil Nadu, and three more of similar capacity are in the pipeline.

India could also step up exploitation of domestic oil and gas reserves, besides speeding up implementation of the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline.

The Washington DC based UN Foundation, working on ways to combat global warming and climate change, had put together a compelling document titled “Realising the Potential of Energy Efficiency.” The document states that EE can produce almost immediate results with existing technology and proven policies and do so while generating strong financial returns that exceed those from investments in conventional energy supply. Achieving an annual rate of EE improvement of 2.5 per cent is well within our reach. Through this means alone the country could bring about savings of around 80,000 MW of electricity by 2030 and effectively combat global warming and climate change. The Planning Commission Review does recognise the importance of EE but has not done anything on this front. While we have not heard a word on this high potential, eco-friendly, cost-effective and totally indigenous solution, Manmohan Singh has been drumming up ad nauseum the alien, costly, risk-prone nuclear option.

<b>On 12 June, he pleaded with Indian Foreign Service probationers to remove the political hurdles in the path of the Indo-US nuclear agreement as if it is in their hand. </b><b>Infrastructure augmentation without optimization is a resource guzzler and could make the Indian economy FDI dependent</b>. <b>It would force us to adopt alien models of development instead of going in for indigenous solutions which alone could provide security in any field, most of all in electric energy</b>.

<i>The writer, a veteran journalist who retired from The Statesman, is based in Chennai.</i>
<b>Impasse over Indo-US nuclear deal deepens</b>

New Delhi (PTI): The stand off over the Indo-US nuclear deal worsened on Sunday with the CPI(M) threatening to withdraw support to the UPA government if it pushed ahead with the "harmful" agreement.
"In case the government decides to go ahead with such a harmful agreement, which has no support in Parliament</b>, the CPI(M) will withdraw support to the UPA government in concert with other Left parties," a statement of the CPI(M) Polit Bureau said after a meeting here.

However, Congress, which heads the UPA that survives on the outside support of 59 MPs of the Left parties, sought to downplay the threat saying there was nothing new in the warning.

The RJD, an important constituent of the UPA with 24 MPs, expressed confidence that the government will not not fall on the deal, which will also go through.

The first public declaration of withdrawal of support by CPI(M) General Secretary, Prakash Karat, came at a press conference in the midst of a deepening stand off with the government, which is keen on going ahead with the deal.

While the other Left parties, like the CPI, have already declared their intention to withdraw support if the government went ahead with the deal, the CPI(M) had so far only given strong indications that it would withdraw its support.

The UPA government is now now said to be involved in efforts to woo the Samajawadi Party, which has 39 MPs, and some other smaller groups, to make up for the numbers in Lok Sabha in case the Left carries out its threat.

SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is being watched with keen interest, maintained suspense over his party's stand saying it would be decided on July 3 when the UNPA will meet. However, the arrival of his lieutenant Amar Singh from the US is expected to set in motion moves for a tie up between the Congress and the SP.

RJD chief and Railway Minister Lalu Prasad ruled out early elections saying they would be held on schedule. "The government will not not fall and the nuclear deal will also go through," he said.

Opposition BJP made light of the CPI(M) threat dubbing the Left parties as <b>"political pranksters"</b>, who were adopting divisive tactics.

The CPI(M) Polit Bureau appealed to the partners of the Congress in the UPA to "ensure that no such steps are taken which will help the communal forces."

Karat said that "going to the Board of Governors of the IAEA for approval of the safeguards agreement will be a flagrant violation of the understanding arrived at the November 16, 2007 meeting of the UPA-Left Committee on the nuclear deal."

The meeting of the Polit Bureau was held amidst the deadlock over the nuclear deal "arising out of the Prime Minister and the Congress leadership's insistence on going ahead" with it.

The CPI(M) attack was severe on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Congress leadership, an apparent reference to party president Sonia Gandhi, over the deal and the government's "abject failure" to tackle inflation.

The CPI(M) and the Left parties would unitedly launch an intensive campaign to expose the government's "surrender" of national interests on the deal and its "failure" to curb price rise.

The Polit Bureau regretted that the PM and the Congress were "more concerned" about fulfilling their commitment to US President George Bush to operationalise the deal than to gear up the government for comprehensive steps to tackle inflation.

Expressing grave concern over the galloping inflation rate which had touched 11.42 per cent, Karat said, "the price rise of essential commodities imposes a crushing burden on the people. The poor are finding it difficult to survive given the rising cost of food stuffs."
With the BJP gaining strength in recent months, the CPI(M) reminded the Congress and its allies that the UPA was formed to keep the communal forces at bay.

"By taking such a step (on the deal) and the political consequences thereafter, that purpose will be undermined," Karat said seeking to put the blame squarely on the doors of the Congress in the event of saffron surge.</b>

Karat, however, refused to take any questions.

While the dominant Left party has been firmly opposing the 123 agreement from the beginning, today's was the first meeting of its top leadership which issued a formal warning in the backdrop of moves by the government to go ahead with the deal.

Other Left parties -- CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc -- are meeting in the next few days, which are expected to support the CPI(M) on the key issue that has brought major rupture between the Congress-led UPA and its key outside supporters.
Refusing to buy Government's argument on the deal, the party insisted that the agreement will "severely undermine" the country's independent foreign policy and strategic autonomy by "cementing a strategic alliance" with the US.</b>

"The Politburo reiterates its firm opposition to the 123 agreement which does not provide full civilian nuclear cooperation and does not meet the needs of energy security," the statement said.

Karat, in an interview to Kairali TV, said the Prime Minister's approach towards the deal showed "how deeply they (Government) are entrenched with US interests".

"For a government that is a coalition minority government which is dependent on Left parties, the only correct and honest thing would have been to say that we believe that the deal is good for the country but since we cannot carry our own Parliament or the supporters of our coalition government, we are not going forward," he said.

The Third Front, formally known as UNPA, which consists of Samajwadi Party, TDP, INLD and some regional parties, is also meeting on July three to firm up its strategy on the deal.

The Left parties are trying hard to keep the 39-member strong Samajwadi Party, which has been warming towards Congress lately, to their side.

With no immediate signs of the impasse being resolved, Congress President Sonia Gandhi has already asked senior party leaders to gear up the organisation for a series of polls, including the Lok Sabha elections.

The past few days had witnessed a flurry of consultations in the UPA as well as the Left parties on the deal amidst signals that the Congress was in no mood to give up going ahead with the agreement.

<b>SP, Cong bitterness a thing of the past: Mulayam</b>


<!--emo&:roll--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/ROTFL.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='ROTFL.gif' /><!--endemo--> <!--emo&:roll--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/ROTFL.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='ROTFL.gif' /><!--endemo-->
<b>Congress dismisses Left's threat over Indo-US nuke deal</b>

Sun, Jun 29 08:35 PM

New Delhi, June 29 (ANI): Congress on Sunday dismissed the Left's threat to withdraw support to the United Progressive (UPA) government on the issue of the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Party spokesman Shakeel Ahmad rejected the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) statement that going ahead with the deal would strengthen communal forces.

Reacting to the Left's statement, Ahmad said that the stance of the Left on nuke deal was not a new one.

The deal was in the national interest, as it would help bridge the massive energy gap, Ahmad said.

While supporting the nuclear deal, he said that nuclear fuel was cleaner than coal and more reliable than wind. He further added that developed countries were increasingly going back to nuclear energy as a relatively cleaner fuel option.

Disagreeing with the CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat's charge that the Congress-led coalition had not taken steps to control inflation, he said that the government had taken a series of measures to bring down rising prices of essential commodities in the backdrop of huge increase in international crude oil prices.

These steps had resulted in country experiencing far less inflation as compared to several Asian countries, Ahmad added. (ANI)

<b>PM says India will go ahead with n-deal </b>

Mon, Jun 30 01:15 AM

New Delhi, June 30 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday asserted that his government would push ahead with the India-US civil nuclear deal but also expressed the hope that he could work out an 'arrangement' with all the parties concerned including the stridently critical Left.

As speculation intensifies over the future of the government -- if the Left carries out its threat to withdraw support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) once the government went ahead with the deal -- the prime minister said the Communists' opposition was not new.

In an informal chat with reporters after releasing India's climate change action plan, Manmohan Singh was quick to add that the government would revert to parliament after finalising the India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the two crucial moves to take ahead the 123 agreement with Washington.

'There is a lot of interest in the country over the nuclear deal,' he said.

Manmohan Singh's remarks came a day after the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) announced that the Left, which props the ruling UPA with its 61 MPs in the Lok Sabha, would pull down the government if the nuclear deal was taken forward.

After a meeting of the party politburo Sunday, the CPI-M issued a statement: 'In case the government decides to go ahead with such a harmful agreement, which has no majority support in parliament, the CPI-M will withdraw support to the UPA government in concert with the Left parties.'

In this crucial week before Manmohan Singh departs for the G-8 Summit in Japan, the UPA government will make an attempt to push the contentious nuclear deal by garnering political support from the Samajwadi Party and others, said Congress sources.

The office bearers of the Congress are meeting Tuesday to discuss the party's stance in the wake of the CPI-M's declaration.

"If we have to get the deal approved by the US Congress, we have to get the IAEA final nod by the first half of July," said a minister in Manmohan Singh's government.

He said the government had to get the India-specific safeguards agreement approved by IAEA board of governors by the first half of July and the consent of the NSG by August-September. The time-frame would have to be kept "so the special session of the US Congress, which is meeting in October, can pass the 123 agreement".

"If we have to save the deal, we have to finalise the IAEA pact as early as possible," the minister added.

Indo-US Nuclear Deal

A Recipe For Blackmail

Nirmalangshu Mukherji,


The current Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, is often credited with ushering in a new economic order (read ‘neoliberal era’) in India in the early 1990s. If credit is due to him, so is the responsibility for bringing the country to economic enslavement (read ‘imperialist control’) in the last two decades to the point of no return. Despite glowing certificates from economists such as Amartya Sen (The Hindu, 15 August), the fact remains that the economic policies initiated by Dr. Singh, and cheerfully pursued by the right-wing NDA government during its infamous rule (1999-2004), have left the country in an unprecedented state of inequality and impoverishment of the masses (Utsa Patnaik, A Republic of Hunger).

If there was one dominant factor in the remarkable general elections of 2004 which raised Dr. Singh to Prime Ministership, it is that people’s anger was targetted at the consequences of neoliberal economic policies initiated by Rajiv Gandhi-Narasimha Rao governments, continued by Deve Gowda-Gujral governments, and taken to the limit by NDA. The nexus between NDA and the Sangh Parivar, on the one hand, and US imperialism, pro-Israeli lobbies, mainstream media, Indian big business, and MNCs, especially financial corporations, on the other, has led to a class war between the elites and their hanger-ons (top 20%) and the rest of the people. Election 2004 was very much a non-violent expression of this class war (see my ‘Election 2004 and After’, Revolutionary Democracy, 10.2, October 2004).

More significantly for the issue in hand, the events just after the elections left no ambiguity about who controls Indian economy by now. Apprehending an imminent ‘socialist’ agenda with the Left agreeing to support the Congress government, foreign financial institutions and big business immediately threatened the ubiquitous flight of capital which led to a massive crash in the stock market. By then, Indian economy – like the earlier era in Latin American economies – had already become so dependent on imperialist coffers for maintaining high growth and employment rates (benefitting a small section of the people) that any perceived departure from the direct interests of international institutions was firmly disallowed. As a result, we watched the unholy spectacle of former finance minister, Mr Jaswant Sinha, and Dr. Singh joining hands to assure their ‘contacts’ in the financial oligarchy that no deviation from existing policy will be mooted. The markets jumped back to unprecedented highs and Dr. Singh was nominated as the Prime Minister. He wasted no time in filling almost the entire financial set up with his colleagues from the World Bank and the IMF. Tied down by a benign National Common Minimum Programme, the left has been a mute spectator to this attack on the people to serve international capital interests.


With the proposed nuclear deal with US, the stranglehold on economy is sought to be extended to the energy and the military spheres – a control that can only further serve the interests of the international monopoly capital in line with US’s ill-concealed geo-political ambitions. It is heartening to note that the left has finally risen – after two years of unexplained slumber – to its historical responsibility of resisting imperialist aggression.

It is important to be clear about the character – limits – of this delayed resistance. The nuclear deal – rather benignly titled ‘1-2-3 agreement’ as if it is some kind of an innocent game – promises regular supply of fuel material to maintain and enhance India’s nuclear capabilities ostensibly for the generation of nuclear energy only.<b> While the conversation on the deal was started by US’s close ally in the subcontinent, the NDA regime, it was officially inaugurated with a Bush-Singh meeting in Washington in 2005. At that point, the spokesperson of the CPM, Mr. Sitaram Yechury, reportedly held that the left was neither in favour nor opposed to the deal; they wanted to wait for the actual text of the agreement. Now that the text has been made available, the left is opposed to certain clauses of the agreement.</b>

Without wasting time on the fine-print, assume that the deal is rectified to assuage the left. It stands to reason that, at this point of time with the prospect of elections in West Bengal and elsewhere after the Nandigram massacre, the left will concede to almost any face-saving device. For the records, recall that, after much hue and cry, the left had agreed to the new EPF regime when the government agreed to raise interest rate from 8% to 8.5%. Nevertheless, assume further that the rectifications so enforced on demand from the left allows India to retain control over its nuclear facilities, especially the military ones.

But, once signed, the deal will be binding for half a century. Assuming regular supply of fuel despite India’s refusal to sign the non-proliferation treaty, nuclear energy could well become India’s mainstay in the energy sector in the years to come. Indian and foreign MNCs are already rubbing their palms in anticipation of capturing the nuclear energy market. Set aside the principled issue of whether nuclear energy should dominate the energy sector at all. Ignore also the moral – in fact, the historical – issue of whether one should enter into any deal with US even if it is a favourable one; US could be viewed as the biggest terrorist state in the history of humanity (Noam Chomsky, Failed States).

Even then, the point remains that, deal or no deal, the US can always walk out of the assurance to supply fuel. In recent years, the US not only ignored the Geneva convention and UN resolutions on terrorism, it walked out of the Kyoto protocol on the environment, the ABM treaty, and the biological warfare convention, among others (Richard Du Boff, 'Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the biggest rogue of all?', Znet, 7 August 2003, for a comprehensive list of recent violations of international treaties by US). And the moment US walks out, the entire energy sector will be in jeopardy.
With virtual control of the energy sector, US will be in a position to enforce any economic, political and military regime on India. As a nuclear-junkey, India will not be able to resist the regular supply of nuclear fuel to the system and turn cold turkey. Addicts will do anything to keep the drug supply going.</b>

Neerja Chowdhury

The prime minister cannot take things personally

June 30, 2008

The late prime minister P V Narasimha Rao was fond of saying that the Indian PM's position was a very powerful one. The present prime minister however does not think so, even though he made a point of attending Rao's 88th birth anniversary celebration last week, where hardly any other Congressman was seen.

Dr Singh's ultimatum to Sonia Gandhi [Images], that he could not continue in office if the government did not go ahead with the Indo-US nuclear deal, has again brought to the fore questions about the PM's role and authority in a coalition set up.

Weak or strong, the prime minister has given the impression of becoming a one issue PM of late, though he had said not long ago that his was not a one-issue government.

Small wonder that someone coming to Delhi from Srinagar [Images] last week remarked bitterly, "<span style='color:red'>Here no one can think of anything else but the nuke deal; it is as if nothing else matters to the government of India."
The Kashmir situation has been deteriorating since early June, threatening to go back to what it was in 1990. Clouds had been gathering but no attention is being paid. South Block's attention was otherwise engaged. The less said about North Block, the better. A dejected prime minister had cut himself off not meeting many people.

When one lakh people marched in Kashmir last Friday, protesting against the land given to the Amarnath shrine board, shouting slogans for `azadi' and for Pakistan., those sitting in Delhi were immersed in the "deal versus no deal" discourse, to the exclusion of all else.

The PM's spin doctors are now giving a different interpretation to his ultimatum to Sonia Gandhi -- that what was a stake was not the prime minister's honour but the country's credibility in the international arena. And that no one will take India seriously if the government does not operationalise the deal. Why would Putin believe India if the prime minister gives an undertaking on climate change at the G-8 meet in Japan [Images]?

There is weight in this argument. But there is also weight in the countervailing arguments -- that the nuke deal may have a bearing on India's sovereign decision making.

But put aside the merits versus demerits argument for a moment, and come to the more practical aspect of decision making. The PM should never have gone so far, argue the deal's opponents, without ensuring the support of the Left, which has not been forthcoming. The stand of the Left has not changed over the months. If anything, it has hardened after the Hyde Act. You may want to do business with Budhadeb Bhattacharya or Jyoti Basu or Sitaram Yechury, but the PM cannot wish away Prakash Karat at the head of the Communist Party of India-Marxist today.

The mandate in 2004 was after all not for Dr Manmohan Singh [Images], nor for the Congress, nor for the UPA by itself. It was for the coalition as it was constituted with the Left parties supporting it from outside -- however distasteful it might be for some to accept it.

Manmohan Singh may be sincere in believing that the deal is good for India. Karat may be sincere in believing that the deal will compromise India's independent foreign policy. Both have a right to their points of view. Contending viewpoints are the warp and woof of democratic functioning, though rarely has an issue on foreign policy divided the country so sharply as has the Indo-US nuclear deal.

There is no reason why the PM should be defensive about facing the world leaders at the G-8 meet in Hokkaido, whatever be the government's decision on the nuke deal. Nor is there a case for giving the world an impression that the prime minister is powerless, and no one is listening to him. Manmohan Singh has tried his best to convince his partners. He has not succeeded. That can happen in any democratic set up, and it would not be the first time it has happened. The head of a government does not call it quits as a result.

Narasimha Rao, under whose premiership Manmohan Singh opened up the economy, was a past master at using differing viewpoints in the country to ward off international pressures on Kashmir -- and to bargain better.
The prime minister's ultimatum in some way also conveys his frustration with being pushed around. It is true that in the last four years he has allowed Sonia Gandhi to run the show, has put up with all kinds of slights and harsh words, from L K Advani to Ravi Shankar Prasad to Karat, who now blames him for the present political crisis. This despite the fact that the Congress has not spoken up for him. If it did, it was a one liner to complete a formality. Those who spoke up in his favour were viewed with suspicion.</b>

While this may be true, the fact is that Dr Singh was chosen to fill the top slot because it was felt that he would not queer the pitch for Sonia Gandhi, as some others might have done. But having said that -- and acknowledging the constraints under which Dr Singh has had to operate -- he could have pushed for greater manoeuvrability in the space given to him. Power is rarely handed over; it is seized and wielded. The trouble is that Manmohan Singh has felt more comfortable with bureaucrats than with politicians. That is probably why he has not been able to utilise the services of politicians in his government to help him move more strategically.

Today people want a firm handling of the situation. <b>They want Manmohan Singh to lead, not to hand in his resignation. The prime minister cannot have the luxury of taking things personally. For the last four years he has presided over the economy, which is now facing difficult challenges with the price situation spinning out of control and people's economic hardship growing.</b> An economist prime minister is expected to get a grip over the situation, not walk into the sunset because he is feeling let down.

As for the Congress, it must stop dithering and decide quickly, either way, on the nuke deal. It has no business to subject the country to a prolonged period of uncertainty which has taken over, affecting decision making at all levels, be it Kashmir or the economy.

If it resolves to go ahead with the deal -- which from all accounts it has decided -- it must opt for early elections, so that a new government can be in the saddle to deal with a difficult situation that is developing.

Instead, the Congress seems caught up in an exercise to ward off the elections to February next year, either by mobilising new allies in place of the Left, like the Samajwadi Party, which would give it breathing space. Or by putting off the monsoon session till August, when the break with the Left would come, and which may technically allow it to continue as a caretaker government till early next year.

This may suit the politicians but the country could do without a long spell of a caretaker government which will have little authority with officials or with business at a time when tough measures may be called for. This is the least the politicians owe the people of India.

Guest Columns

Harsh V Pant

Dr Singh, lead or leave

June 30, 2008

Notwithstanding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's [Images] threats to resign, the paralysis at the Centre is absolute. One day, it looks the prime minister is threatening to go eyeball to eyeball with the Left. The next day, the Congress president takes over and tries to mollify the Communists

One day, the government seems to have made up its mind about the nuclear deal but the very next day the bumbling begins anew. It is the tragedy of this government that despite signing the landmark civilian nuclear energy cooperation pact with the US it will be remembered for the lack of spine it showed in standing up to its own convictions.

Just four years back this government began with so much promise. The Congress had won against all odds and Sonia Gandhi [Images] by renouncing the most powerful office in the country had become the most powerful political figure. She had given the prime ministership to one of the most respected public figures of the last twenty years, to someone who had taken some tough decisions at a time when it had seemed nothing could go right for the country.

So it was natural that it was seen as the beginning of a new phase in functioning of the Congress party and it was expected that after being out of power for a long time, Congress will be governing with a renewed sense of purpose, especially with an efficient Dr Singh at the helm.

But none of those rosy assumptions has come to pass. The Congress party soon returned to its geriatric ways. The enthusiasm that the electorate had felt when they had watched a number of young parliamentarians to emerge from the Grand Old Party was soon deflated when once again the young blood was sidelined.

The Cabinet ministers and the party functionaries continued to be the same old tired faces that have given such a tawdry reputation to the party all these years. The political capital that Sonia Gandhi had won so painstakingly got spent fast and furious as the party returned to its grand old ways soon and the government got crippled with the Communists refusing to allow any meaningful governance measure to be undertaken.

Despite this, it was to the prime minister's credit that he decided to go for one of the most far-reaching decisions that any Indian government has ever taken. It's not clear why he did not take his party into confidence as it is clear that there is little enthusiasm for the nuclear pact within the Congress itself.

Probably he thought that with Sonia Gandhi's support the support would inevitably follow. But this shows his political naivete. Without good political handling, no policy goal can ever be achieved in a democracy. What is even more galling is this romanticism about the Communist parties that somehow with logical reasoning they would come around to support the pact.

From the very beginning, if there was anything that was clear it was the fact that the Left parties will never support the deal. They have been nothing if not consistent in their foreign policy, if that's what it can be called. They have never supported India's nuclear programme and to expect that they would support a US-India rapprochement is akin to expecting them to denounce China's anti-Indian policies.

For the government to rely on the Left to carry this deal forward therefore goes against the grain of what the Left has traditionally stood for.

Perhaps, the government was relying on the BJP to ultimately support the deal when it came to the crunch. But again that goes against anything that Indian Opposition parties have traditionally stood for. When Indian political parties sit in the Opposition benches, they are not interested what is generally understood as the national interest. They consider their sole job is to oppose the government even on those issues on which they might hold similar views. But what's an Opposition party if it can't humiliate a government on an important piece of legislation?

'The people of India are for the deal'

For the BJP the deal is also a reminder at their own deficiencies in negotiating a similar deal when they were ready to sign a deal with the US in return for much less. So it continues to assuage its guilt conscience by suggesting that it would negotiate a better deal if it comes to power as if their American interlocutors are waiting with bated breath for a new political dispensation.

And now after delaying a confrontation with the Left for as long as he could, the prime minister wants to finally make a break. There is no time left and he doesn't want to go to the G8 summit claiming that the search for consensus continues. The political operators in the Congress are warning that they should not upset the applecart even now as soaring inflation will not be very conducive to contest elections.

However, a few more months in office are not going to bring down the inflation which in all likelihood will not go down even when the elections are due next year. Meanwhile, the Left has started playing the communal card, something that it does not get tired of blaming the BJP for. It is scaring the potential supporters of the deal that a support for the deal would lead to a loss of Muslim support. This is the principled politics of the Left!

Indian Muslims are far too intelligent for this kind of scaremongering to work but the Left should be careful in playing these tricks for their locus standi of being the great secular force in the nation gets only weakened with such petty politicking.
<span style='color:red'>
India today finds itself bereft of tall leaders. Our present political leaders of all stripes stand diminished. Regrettably, there is hardly any choice for the Indians. Today's political class seems incapable of either inspiring or effectively managing the country's myriad problems.</span>

It says something about the dearth of political talent in the country when the best that the Indians are offered are either the derivatives of various dynastic legacies -- the Gandhis, the Scindias, the Singhs, the Pilots -- or are those who play to the worst fears and anxieties of their countrymen -- the Narendra Modis, the Thackerays, the Mulayam Singhs, the Mayawatis.

No wonder, India continues to look to the film industry and its cricket pitches in search of its idols. They may be faux gods but at least they have some talent!

This nation is in dire need of leaders who can not only spell out an idea of India that this moment in history demands but can also effectively manage to bring that vision to fruition. The prime minister, despite his noble intentions, has singularly failed to either manage the country well or to provide a vision for the nation's future. He is a nice man but India needs an effective prime minister. May be it is time for him to stand down.

Dr Harsh V Pant teaches at King's College London [Images].

<b>Nuclear Deal: Questions That Baffle </b>
Brahma Chellaney
Asian Age, June 27, 2008

Why is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a hurry to approach the IAEA Board when he knows the deal cannot be sealed during the Bush presidency? The best way to proceed is to do what he had promised — build a broad political consensus in favour.

The civil nuclear deal with America, although steeped in growing partisan rancour, is hardly the weighty issue that should determine any government’s future. Indeed, it is an issue of little long-term import to India’s great-power ambitions or energy needs. For the U.S., the deal offers substantive benefits. But for India the benefits are largely symbolic.

Yet the costs the still-uncertain deal is exacting on India can be gauged from the self-induced federal paralysis, with a sulking prime minister withdrawing into a shell and senior ministers deferring important work. The defence minister, for instance, called off a trip to Japan intended to add strategic content to a bilateral relationship pivotal to power equilibrium in Asia. Such government disruption from the top has no parallel in the annals of independent India.

The ungainly political stagecraft on display raises several unanswered questions. The first relates to Dr. Manmohan Singh’s obsession with a deal that has begun to warp his priorities. Many are asking the same question: Why is he willing to stake his government’s future on a single issue of questionable long-term strategic weight? Can he fashion a legacy by choosing deal-making over deterrent-building?

What is mystifying is that Dr. Singh has landed the country in a political logjam over a deal he knows cannot be completed during the remainder term of U.S. President George W. Bush. Time has simply run out. Even in an overly optimistic scenario, the deal cannot be ratified by the present U.S. Congress.

In addition to New Delhi’s insistence on taking its safeguards accord with the International Atomic Energy Agency to the latter’s governing board at this stage — an action that will gratuitously tie the country’s hands even before the final deal is clear — an extraordinary plenary meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group will need to be held to consider a rule-change by consensus. An NSG waiver will neither be easy nor swift, with the U.S. itself seeking to attach conditions that mesh with its Hyde Act. In the last stage, the deal will come up for congressional ratification, but only after three documents — the so-called 123 agreement, a presidential determination that India has met all the stipulated preconditions, and a “Nuclear Proliferation Assessment Statement” — have been placed before the U.S. Congress “for a period of 60 days of continuous session”.

Given the limited number of days left in the present U.S. legislative calendar to let a ratification process run its full course, why this tearing hurry on the part of India to take the safeguards accord to the IAEA Board? Washington — whose almost-daily statements have sought to egg on New Delhi to play that very card, even if it led to the collapse of Dr. Singh’s government — acknowledged this week that, “obviously, the next U.S. government will have to look at this [deal] and make their own decisions on it”. In fact, as early as last month, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden had said the deal is unlikely to be approved in Bush’s term.

Before knowing how the NSG will condition cooperation with India or the attitude of the next U.S. administration, why is New Delhi willing to part with its last remaining card by taking the safeguards accord to the IAEA Board? That accord, at any rate, ought to be taken to the Board only after the contours of the Additional Protocol with the IAEA have been firmed up. Otherwise, a leverage-stripped India could face more-stringent and wider inspections when it returns for Additional Protocol negotiations.

Like the 123 agreement, India has already finalized and “frozen” the safeguards accord. But unlike the former, which was made public days after it was initialled, the latter text has not been shown even to coalition allies, underscoring the creeping official opacity.

There are other mysteries, too. One centres on Dr. Singh’s metamorphosis from being anti-nuclear to becoming a fervent votary of commercial nuclear power. As finance minister in the first half of the 1990s, Dr. Singh starved the nuclear programme of funds, disabling new projects and halting uranium exploration.

The uranium crunch India confronts today is rooted in the fact that the actions Dr. Singh set in motion then were not reversed until several years after he left office. That Dr. Singh’s newfound interest in nuclear power relates merely to reactor imports has been underscored by his recent action in cutting the Department of Atomic Energy’s 2008-09 budget by more than half a billion dollars.

Another unexplained action — one that demolishes the official contention that the deal has no bearing on the strategic programme — is the U.S.-dictated decision to permanently shut down Cirus, one of India’s two bomb-grade plutonium-production reactors. As Paul Nelson, T. V. K. Woddi and William S. Charlton of the Texas A&M University point out in a U.S. government-funded study, much of India’s cumulative historic production of weapons-grade plutonium has come from Cirus, operating since 1960.

As a completely refurbished reactor, Cirus is as Indian a facility as any. The prime minister's baffling decision to shut down Cirus two years from now, without approving a replacement reactor, will leave a major production shortfall in military-grade plutonium.

No less troubling is the fact that solemn promises made in Parliament were not kept. After the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate Foreign Relations Committee had approved separate versions of an India-specific bill, the prime minister declared on August 17, 2006: “I had taken up with President Bush our concerns regarding provisions in the two bills. It is clear if the final product is in its current form, India will have grave difficulties in accepting the bills. The U.S. has been left in no doubt as to our position”. When Congress disregarded Dr. Singh’s red lines and passed the Hyde Act by amalgamating the toughest elements from the Senate and House bills, the prime minister admitted on December 18, 2006, that “there are areas which continue to be a cause for concern”.

Yet India negotiated a 123 agreement that complies with the Hyde Act, with the U.S. stating publicly, “We have the Hyde Act, and we kept reminding the Indian side, and they were good enough to negotiate on this basis…” Of all the 123 agreements the U.S. currently has with partner-states, the one with India stands out for conferring enforceable rights only on the supplier-state.

The prime minister's assurances on ““removal of restrictions on all aspects of cooperation”, lifetime fuel stockpiles, linking perpetual international inspections with perpetual fuel supply through “India’s right to take corrective measures”, securing an operational consent to reprocess spent fuel, etc. today lie in tatters.

The government’s secrecy on the safeguards accord springs from the fact that its text release will expose the manner it has yielded further ground. For example, the 123 agreement, instead of granting the right to take corrective measures, just records that India will seek such a right in the IAEA accord. But the IAEA accord, in its preamble, merely cites the 123 agreement’s reference to corrective measures!

It is manifest from this record that if the deal attracts more onerous conditions during the NSG and congressional approvals, the prime minister will go along, as he has in the past, after making some perfunctory noises. Indeed, it is this record that is likely to embolden NSG members and U.S. lawmakers to tag on more conditions in the next stages to constrain India’s nuclear leeway.

As it nears its third anniversary, the deal has become an emblem of how not to conduct Indian diplomacy. The deal also symbolizes the manner it has been sought to be thrust on the nation through media management, instead of by political co-option.

Public relations alone cannot sell an initiative. Can it be forgotten that the deal’s current cheerleaders were the drumbeaters to get India to send an army division into Iraq in 2003? How more vulnerable would India have been today had that campaign succeeded?

Just as in 2003, today’s campaign is centred on overstatement — that the concerned issue holds the key to a strategic partnership with America. There is also gross exaggeration about the utility of high-priced, foreign fuel-dependent reactors from overseas.

The deal’s collapse will neither alter the direction of the U.S.-Indian relationship, which is set toward closer strategic cooperation, nor affect the modest role nuclear power will play in India’s energy mix, with or without reactor imports. The deal, contrary to the propaganda, does not offer India unfettered access to uranium imports. India’s uranium crunch, in any event, is set to ease in two years’ time as new mines and mills open, according to nuclear chief Anil Kakodkar.

In that light, how justifiable is Dr. Singh’s action in turning the conditions-laden deal into a make-or-break issue of personal prestige and upping the ante to the extent that the nation has been plunged into a political crisis? Instead of wanting to precipitously approach the IAEA Board and step into a firestorm of national furore, shouldn’t the prime minister seek to achieve what he pledged in Parliament — “the broadest possible consensus within the country to enable the next steps to be taken”?

Once the IAEA Board seals the safeguards accord, India will have little role to play in the next stages, other than as a bystander anxiously monitoring from afar what additional conditions the deal attracts in the NSG and congressional-ratification processes. So why throw nuclear caution to the winds and buoy up non-proliferation literalists in the NSG and Congress in their resolve to sculpt the final deal?

<b>Emulate America’s bipartisan handling </b>
Brahma Chellaney
The Hindu newspaper
June 28, 2008

<i>The way forward on the nuclear deal is not through disinterest in bipartisan consensus but by emulating the example set by the much-maligned Bush administration at home. </i>

The political drama and uncertainty in India triggered by partisan wrangling over the civil nuclear deal cannot shroud a key fact: Three years after the deal was unveiled as a “historic” breakthrough in U.S.-India relations, its final shape remains unclear and its future uncertain. Several developments have only increased the odds that finalising and implementing the deal will be a long, arduous challenge for both sides.

The most prominent of these developments is that time has run out for the deal to be approved during U.S. President George W. Bush’s term in office. Given the extended requirements for congressional ratification set by the U.S. Atomic Energy Act and Hyde Act, it will be a Barack Obama or John McCain administration — and a new U.S. Congress — that will have the final say on the deal. While acknowledging this reality, the Bush administration, however, continues publicly and privately to prod New Delhi to play its last card by taking the safeguards accord to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s governing board for approval.

With no role to play in the subsequent stages, India may see more conditions being tagged to the deal by the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group and the U.S. Congress. Considering how the deal picked up tougher terms with each stage it crossed, there is a distinct possibility that it would attract more conditions in the remaining phases. Take the NSG process, which promises to be drawn-out in view of the impending change of administration in Washington. Although Prime Minister Manmohan Singh voiced hope in Parliament on August 13, 2007 that the NSG rule-change for India would occur “without conditions,” an unconditional waiver now looks fanciful. The Bush team is loath to share with New Delhi its revised draft proposal to the NSG.

In fact, one of the Hyde Act’s prerequisites for the deal’s congressional approval is that any NSG rule-change must mirror the conditions that legislation has set for nuclear commerce with India — from a permanent test ban and tightly regulated uranium access, to a continued prohibition on all civil nuclear fuel-cycle technologies and the right to demand the return of transferred items and materials. The Act requires that an NSG exemption should neither be less stringent nor take effect before congressional ratification of the deal. Its clause-by-clause explanatory notes state that no NSG decision should “disadvantage U.S. industry by setting less strict conditions … than those embodied in the conditions and requirements of this Act.”

The concern is that if the NSG fails to replicate U.S.-style conditions, New Delhi would do an end-run around America to buy power reactors from Russia and France. Indeed, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice assured Congress barely four months ago that the NSG exemption will be “completely consistent with the obligations of the Hyde Act.” The Act asserts the U.S. has the “necessary leverage” in a group it founded to “ensure a favourable outcome.”

Given these realities, there ought to be neither hurry nor heat in evolving India’s strategy and options on the deal. This is an issue that needs to be discussed dispassionately, in a bipartisan spirit, without succumbing to contrived deadlines. After all, the deal centres on the very future of the country’s nuclear programme. Once India has invested billions of dollars in importing power reactors, the congressionally enforced conditions, with cyclic presidential certifications of Indian “compliance,” will effectively bear it down. Even when Washington walked out midway from a binding 30-year bilateral pact over just one plant, the U.S.-built Tarapur nuclear power station, New Delhi continued to honour the accord’s terms till the end — and even beyond to this day.

Declassified U.S. documents show that the CIA had correctly assessed that India would not end its obligations even after America had broken its word, but instead would seek U.S. help to find a substitute fuel supplier to keep electricity flowing from Tarapur. That is exactly what happened. But in return, to this day, India has exacerbated its spent-fuel problem at Tarapur by granting the U.S. a right it didn’t have even if it had not walked out of that accord — a veto on Indian reprocessing of the accumulating discharged fuel. Yet, even in the latest deal, India has inexplicably agreed to forego reprocessing until it has, in the indeterminate future, won a separate, congressionally vetted agreement.

The political passions the deal is generating make it all the more important that spin should not be allowed to obfuscate facts. Both America and China stand to gain from the qualitative and quantitative fetters the deal imposes on India’s deterrent, including the test prohibition and the forced shutdown of Cirus — one of the two research reactors producing weapons-grade plutonium. Yet vicious attacks have been orchestrated on the Left for allegedly acting at China’s behest. Disinformation has been planted to sow confusion in the BJP ranks and break the party’s steadfast opposition to the deal. Can slogans and taunts serve as a substitute to an informed debate on an increasingly complex and technical deal?

One would have expected greater transparency in a deal between the world’s most-populous and most-powerful democracies. In one telling example, the Bush administration, through a gag order on its written responses to congressional questions, has sought to keep the Indian public in the dark on the larger implications, lest the deal should run into rougher weather. In another example, New Delhi continues to shy away from explaining why it agreed to certain glaring provisions in the 123 agreement, such as its grant of an open-ended right to the supplier to suspend supplies forthwith simply by issuing a one-year termination notice on any ground, or the conspicuous absence of any dispute-resolution mechanism.

Citing the newfound support to the deal by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam or Brajesh Mishra can hardly lay to rest nagging questions. Cryptic personal opinions of individuals, however distinguished, will not obscure hard facts. After having been a party to all the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led pronouncements against the deal since 2005, Mr. Mishra has suddenly gone solo to find virtue in the accord. All he says is that he was officially briefed and now “hopes” and “believes” the deal is no longer injurious to Indian interests. But why not share with the public any new material facts he may know?

Mr. Kalam, as scientific adviser in 1999, publicly supported the then government’s U.S.-instigated but abortive move to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Now, in lending support to a deal that drags India through the backdoor into the CTBT, Mr. Kalam says: “If at any time there was a fear that national security would be compromised … we can withdraw.” This shows he hasn’t studied the deal, because the one common thread running through the Hyde Act, the 123 agreement, and the safeguards accord is that India is to be barred from ever halting international inspection of its entire civil nuclear programme, even if the U.S. unilaterally terminated cooperation.

Let’s be clear: the deal has divided India like no other strategic issue. The rancorous divisiveness ought to give pause to those who may think the deal can be rammed through. Indeed, through political over-investment, the deal has been meretriciously presented as the centrepiece, if not the touchstone, of a new Indo-U.S. partnership. To depict the deal as critical to U.S.-India ties is to suggest the base of that relationship is still narrow. Any bilateral relationship cannot rise or fall on the basis of a single issue.

New Delhi’s best option today is to let the deal enter a period of suspended animation and await the new political line-up in Washington. A critical matter like this, which is going to tie India to legally irrevocable international inspections, demands a broad consensus at home. To ignore the widespread misgivings and to precipitously proceed ahead will set a treacherous and damaging precedent.

Dr. Singh had assured the nation on several occasions that he would build a broad political consensus in the deal’s favour. Just two days after signing the original deal on July 18, 2005, he said: “It goes without saying that we can move forward only on the basis of a broad national consensus.” On August 17, 2006, he told the Rajya Sabha: “Broad-based domestic consensus cutting across all sections in Parliament and outside will be necessary.” Subsequently, he reassured Parliament that he will “seek the broadest possible consensus within the country to enable the next steps to be taken.”

That is exactly the wise course he needs to follow today. The partisan acrimony needs to be defused.

New Delhi should learn from the way the much-maligned Bush administration has handled the deal domestically — by forging an impressive political consensus. The Hyde Act was the product of such consensus-building and political co-option, with the administration holding closed-door briefings for lawmakers and allowing its three-and-a-half-page bill to be turned into a 41-page, conditions-stacked legislation. Bipartisan support also holds the key to the deal eventually winning congressional ratification. In India, the deal ought not to be turned into a partisan issue, for it will have to be implemented well after the present government’s term.
<b> Indo US Nuclear deal we gain or loose ?</b>


Published by Brigadier Arun Bajpai (Retd) [brigarunbajpai] on 2008/3/31 (427 reads)
“India is a responsible state with advanced nuclear technology who should have same advantages as other nuclear states”. These memorable words uttered by American President Bush on 18 July 05 during a joint press conference hosted on the occasion of visit of the Indian Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh to US, have in one stroke achieved for India the status of Sixth Nuclear power in the world, a recognition which India’s first peaceful nuclear test conducted in May 1974 and then again five tests in 1998 could not deliver. In international relations nothing comes free. The question which now comes to fore is, what price have we to pay to achieve this Nuclear power status, even though a de facto one.

India came under American nuclear non proliferation scanner immediately after it conducted its first peaceful nuclear test in 1974.For last four decades Indian nuclear programme has functioned under American applied nuclear and missile technology transfer ban. Biggest problem the fast growing Indian economy faces today is the rising energy demand. So far India has been meeting its skyrocketing energy requirements by importing oil from gulf countries. However oil prices in world market are now touching the all time high of 102 dollars a barrel and this source of energy has become a very expensive proposition. Abundant coal availability in India is not a viable proposition due to environmental hazards. With Global warming and melting of Glaciers the Hydroelectric production In India has also more or less peaked. Only other cheap energy option left to sustain the current growth rate of Indian economy is the nuclear energy.

Currently Indian civilian nuclear energy programme produces 2400 MW of energy. Limited nuclear fuel availability in India can at best enhance the indigenous nuclear energy production to a maximum of 10000 MW.To compliment other resources The minimum Indian nuclear energy requirement is estimated to be 40000 MW. Only way India can meet this demand is by importing the nuclear fuel from US and other nuclear capable countries in a big way. Additionally Indian nuclear energy plants are getting old and fingers are being raised at their safety. These Indian energy woes are known to America.

By granting the de facto Sixth nuclear power status to India, US has very cleverly put an end to India’s ambition of becoming a military super power one day. India now per force will have to abide by all those conditions that are binding on the current nuclear capable states. The first among them is the US demand that India must separate its military and civilian nuclear installations and put its civilian nuclear installations under IAEA safeguards to be eligible for latest nuclear technology and fuel transfers to India. US very glibly says that it has no objection to what India does with its military related nuclear installations.

Unlike US, Russia and even China, whose nuclear doctrines are based on the stockpiling concept, that is to say their military nuclear installations continuously keep on producing nuclear warheads, either to up grade the current ones, replace the old ones or add on to the current holdings, India follows the philosophy of Minimum Nuclear Deterrent (MND). In MND the nuclear warheads are produced, based on assessment of current nuclear threats. In the case of India the perceived threats from China and Pakistan. That is why in India the nuclear installations follow an integrated approach incorporating both civil and military requirements under one roof.

Once India separates its 21 nuclear reactors into military and civil watertight compartments then its military warheads producing capability will automatically go down. Same will be the case with its military oriented nuclear research capability. Besides civilian and military oriented research will not be able to complement each other. So now if India wants to retain its current military oriented nuclear capability then it will have to spend enormous amount of money to recreate new military facilities. Needless to say this measure will not be cost effective.

In other words India’s Nuclear deterrent will not only remain minimum but will also be much behind times. Add to this the second international obligation of moratorium on nuclear related tests and the third demand of US of multilateral Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty, and the picture is complete. After this Indo –US deal, Indian nuclear threat will remain small and regional for a long time to come not materially affecting the Super power like US.

On the gains side India gets the latest technology in civilian nuclear energy generation as also the fuel for the same. This will take care of India’s energy requirements that are currently paramount for the country at this stage of development and for an economic Super power future, which India can still become.

On the military side, as against number of warheads and their level of sophistication, India should now concentrate on the modernization of delivery means, their longer range and accuracy. Both China and Pakistan should be rest assured that Indian nuclear capable missiles would hit them with pinpoint accuracy along their entire length and breadth. This capability itself will be a great nuclear deterrent because no country in its sane mind can afford the risk of even one nuclear bomb being dropped within its territory.

In addition India should develop foolproof second-strike capability. Case in point being the nuclear submarines and nuclear capable missiles that can be fired under water from them. These nuclear submarines with nuclear tipped missiles cruising underwater near the target country are most deadly weapons to dissuade boldest of bold countries to desist from taking nuclear war course. These measures if taken by India will to a large extent offset the loss of nuclear military capability that will result due to bifurcation of civil and military nuclear installations.

Apart from energy needs we will be very big gainer in the field of defence production and modernization of Indian Armed Forces. Be it Indian Fighter Aircraft project Tejas, Arjun Tanks, short range missiles, nuclear powered submarines, long range artillery guns, all these indigenous arms production programmes of ours are running 10 to 12 years behind schedule due to high technology transfer restrictions imposed on us by US and other developed countries after our Pokhran nuclear test of 1974. If the Indo –US deal is through, then these restrictions will be lifted. Instead of biggest arms importer country in the world we may then grab a big share of world arms production and export market, in addition to equipping our Armed forces with latest weapons produced at home only with reasonable costs. In civilian advanced technology areas like Indian Space And Research Organization, Aircraft and ship building fields also we will benefit.

In the final analysis despite certain disadvantages this deal is beneficial to India and the current UPA Government should go for it even if the Left withdraws support, as they have been threatening for the last six months. The said deal has already cleared all the international hurdles and now only has to go through the approval of 45 Nation Nuclear supplier Group and the American Congress, both being mere formalities. With presidential elections being held in America in November this year, this deal must reach US Congress by July the latest beyond which they will go in election mode and this opportunity for India will die its own death.

Indian Left has earlier also shown where their loyalties lie when way back in 1962, they had dubbed the Chinese Invasion of India as correct. This time also it is China that will be at the receiving end if the Deal goes through and India emerges as sixth nuclear power. Another reason why they are opposing this deal is the minority vote bank for whose perceived pleasure they threw out the writer Tslima Nasrin from West Bengal recently. As the minority community is currently annoyed with Bush they feel that this deal will adversely affect their vote count. What our comrades fail to understand is that time and again minority community in India has shown that they are Indian first and anything else later.

Against Indo-US uclear Agreement
I am one of the Indian Americans who does not feel comfortable about the Indo-U.S. Nuclear Agreement (I-W, June 6). The agreement vitiates the law of equity; it requires lots of commitment from India to do certain things or not do certain things. But in return, it has very little obligation on the U.S.

The agreement went through the U.S. Congress and as amended is now governed by the Hyde Act of 2006. Why is Manmohan Singh’s government hesitant to have the Indian parliament review the agreement and come up with its own solution, similar to the Hyde Act? If the Indian parliament says no, that it does not like the agreement, why cannot Manmohan Singh drop it? Also, Israel is much closer an ally of the U.S. Why is there no such similar agreement between the U.S. and Israel?

Forget the CPM’s opposition party in India. The communists are basically ruled by the principle, “what’s good for China is good for India.” One clause in the Hyde Act says that the “spent fuel is not transferred to the U.S.” Does it mean that the U.S. can in perpetuity send its nuclear waste to India for re-processing but then the waste cannot be sent back to the U.S.? Why? Where can India dispose of the highly radioactive nuclear waste? Remember, India is only one-third the size of the U.S. with three times the population.

We often hear that France uses nuclear power for 80 percent of its civilian needs. Does anyone know where and how does France dispose of its spent nuclear fuel? We Indians hold in reverence Mother Earth. She has given so much to us. Why do we want to contaminate it with nuclear waste, which can easily come in contact with ground water, one of life’s very essences?

V. Govindan
Roseville, Calif.

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