[Marxism] Indo-US Nuclear 'Deal': 123 Agreement: Another Comment
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Tue Aug 14 20:24:34 MDT 2007
Online at: http://search. japantimes. co.jp/cgi-
The Japan Times
15 August 2007
to mark 60th Anniversary of Indias independence
Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2007
U.S.-India agreement threatens to fuel nuclear
proliferation as well as arms race
By SANDEEP PANDEY
Special to The Japan Times
PRINCETON, New Jersey The United States is having a
difficult time trying to justify the U.S.-India
nuclear deal that will be brought into effect by the
"123 agreement" that has just been concluded between
the two countries.
The agreement is named after Section 123 of the U.S.
Atomic Energy Act of 1954, titled "Cooperation With
Other Nations," which establishes an agreement for
cooperation as a prerequisite for nuclear agreements
between the U.S. and any other country.
News of the 123 agreement was released just three days
before the 62nd anniversary of the Hiroshima atomic
bombing Aug. 6, causing consternation among people
believing in a world free of nuclear weapons.
Despite imposing sanctions on India after its nuclear
tests in 1974 and 1998, the U.S. is, for all purposes,
according it the status of a nuclear weapons state
under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Washington
is as willing to do business with India in nuclear
technology and materials as it would be with any
member of the NPT. As a nonsignatory state, India
should not be accorded this privilege.
The U.S. seems more worried about the interests of its
corporations than the far worthier cause of
disarmament. It has once again proven that it does not
mind throwing all national and international norms and
laws to the wind to maintain its global hegemony.
With Nicholas Burns, the chief diplomat-architect of
the 123 agreement, hinting at subsequent nonnuclear
military cooperation with what he describes as "soon
to be the largest country in the world," we are going
to see the development of a unipolar world that poses
a threat to smaller countries, especially those that
fall out of favor with the U.S.
It is clear that U.S. wants to court India as a
strategic ally with the objective of developing joint
military capabilities and perhaps establishing
military bases on Indian territory. The recent
stopover of U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier
Nimitz (returning from its deployment to the Persian
Gulf as a warning to Iran and possibly carrying
nuclear weapons) at an Indian port in violation of New
Delhi's stated policy of not allowing the transit of
foreign nuclear weapons through its territorial
waters, is a sign of things to come.
At the preparatory committee meeting for the 2010 NPT
review conference held in May-June in Vienna, the New
Agenda Coalition countries Ireland, Brazil, Egypt,
Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden along
with Japan have urged India (and Pakistan and Israel)
to join the NPT as nonnuclear weapons states.
Under the NPT, a nuclear weapons state is defined as
one that has manufactured and exploded a nuclear
weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to
1967. It would be a misnomer to have India (as well as
Pakistan and Israel) join the NPT as a nuclear weapons
So Washington is doing the next best thing; it says
that by signing the deal with New Delhi it is bringing
India into the nonproliferation regime as more of
India's nuclear facilities will now be subjected to
In negotiations India agreed to bifurcate its nuclear
activity into clearly identified civilian and military
categories, with the provision of the former being
open to IAEA inspections. The U.S. agreed upon this
India-specific deal as an exception because it
contends that India has not contributed to
By conducting nuclear explosions twice, however, India
has violated the global nonproliferation regime and
instigated Pakistan to do the same. India's brazen
transgression also emboldened North Korea to withdraw
from the NPT. India has consistently refused to sign
the NPT, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty or
the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, outraging much of
the international community and extracted significant
concessions from the U.S. in the process.
Against the spirit of the Henry Hyde Act, if India
decides to conduct another nuclear test or violates
IAEA safeguards agreement, the U.S. will not
immediately exercise its right of return of materials
and technology. Instead it may ensure the continuity
of India's nuclear fuel supply from other sources
around the world after giving due consideration to the
circumstances that prompted India's action.
The text of the 123 agreement has even gone as far as
identifying France, Russia and Britain as potential
suppliers in such an event. And even if the U.S.
exercises the right of return, India will be suitably
compensated. Moreover, the U.S. would support the
creation of a strategic nuclear fuel reserve.
The issue that clinched the 123 agreement was India's
offer to subject a new reprocessing facility which
will be built exclusively for this purpose to IAEA
safeguards in return for the consent to reprocess
spent fuel, even though U.S. President George W. Bush
is on record saying that enrichment and reprocessing
are not necessary for a country to move forward with
nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
India will be free to maintain and develop its nuclear
arsenal under the 123 agreement. In fact, with
external resources available for its nuclear energy
program, it will be able to use its internal resources
to strengthen its strategic program. Eight nuclear
reactors out of 22 and an upcoming prototype fast
breeder reactor will remain dedicated for military
purposes outside the purview of IAEA.
In short, India will enjoy all the benefits that a
nuclear weapons state is afforded under the NPT,
especially if the Nuclear Suppliers Group of 45
countries also grants similar concessions to India.
The U.S. is going to lobby the NSG to engage in
nuclear trade with India after it has helped India to
sign an agreement with the IAEA on safeguards because
it has to gain Congress' approval again before the
deal will be considered final. It is intriguing that
Australia, Canada, South Africa and others are all too
willing to go along with the U.S. so that they can do
business with India, giving up their long-standing
commitment to nonproliferation.
Twenty-three U.S. lawmakers wrote a letter to Bush on
July 25 expressing concern over India's growing ties
with Iran, including in the domain of defense
partnership. It must be remembered that India is
considering a very important deal with Iran on the
Iran-Pakistan- India gas pipeline.
India claims that the 123 agreement has changed the
global order, and it is right. It has upset the
nonproliferation regime. Globally and regionally it is
going to lead to a new configuration of forces and
possibly a new arms race.
The National Command Authority of Pakistan, which
oversees the nation's nuclear program there has
already expressed its displeasure at the 123 agreement
and has pledged to maintain (i.e., upgrade) Pakistan's
credible minimum deterrence. Islamabad believes the
deal disturbs regional strategic stability and has
asserted that it cannot remain oblivious to its
A International Panel on Fissile Materials report
predicts at least a four to five times increase in
India's weapons-grade plutonium production rate. The
present Indian stock is estimated to be sufficient for
about 100 nuclear warheads. This is obviously alarming
What India and Pakistan need is a mutually reassuring
deal to suspend the nuclear arms race rather than
something that will fuel the nuclear fire. The peace
process undertaken by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh and Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf is
in the danger of being eclipsed by the U.S.-India
Sandeep Pandey, a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay
Award for emergent leadership, is presently with the
program on Science & Global Security, Woodrow Wilson
School, Princeton University.
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