[Marxism] Indo-US Nuclear Deal: What Happens if India Tests?

Sukla Sen suklasenp at yahoo.co.uk
Fri Aug 17 08:10:20 MDT 2007

[The very fact that there is so much of ado over this
obnoxious question speaks for itself. It shows up how
"mainstream" India is obsessed with the idea of
acquiring the power to kill, not in thousands - but in
millions and millions.
India, presumably, needs to carry out further
explosive tests in order to graduate from the Atom
Bomb to Hydrogen Bomb with capacity to commit genocide
on a far greater scale packed in it. This, however, is
logically totally unnecessary if we take the Indian
doctrine of minimum credible deterrence as the purpose
of Indian nuclear arsenal too seriously.

The following article, as it appears, provides a good
technical analysis, of course completely bereft of any
moral considerations whatever.]


Radioactive reactions

G Balachandran

Posted online: Friday, August 17, 2007 at 0000 hrs IST

On Monday Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured
Parliament that the agreement between USA and India to
operationalise the civilian nuclear deal would not
affect India’s right to undertake future nuclear
tests. He said, “Let me hence reiterate once again
that a decision to undertake future nuclear test would
be our sovereign decision, one that rests solely with
the government.” On Tuesday, the US State Department
Spokesman Sean McCormack is supposed to have said,
“The proposed 123 agreement has provisions in it that
in an event of a nuclear test by India, then all
nuclear cooperation is terminated.” Supposed because
the US State department site has no such quote from
McCormack and all investigations so far by this
analyst has failed to show up any person who has
personal knowledge of any such quote or official
statement from McCormack.

Even if McCormack did make such a statement, it would
be plain to anyone who has read the Indo-US 123
agreement that McCormack is wrong, plain and simple,
as there is nothing in that agreement that either
mentions any “test” or any circumstance under which
“all nuclear cooperation is terminated” automatically.
Under Article 14(1) the agreement can be terminated
only a year after a written notice to terminate the
agreement is given by a party.

It is very likely that the story and the controversy
built around it are a major element in the continuing
disinformation campaign that has been mounted by the
opponents of the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Nevertheless, the issue of India conducting a nuclear
test and what happens after that is a matter that
should be analysed in some detail.

What happens to nuclear transfers from US to India if
India conducts a nuclear test? Under NPT, and US laws,
India is a non-nuclear weapon state. According to
Section 129 (a)(1)(A) of the Atomic Energy Act (AEA):
“No nuclear materials and equipment or sensitive
nuclear technology shall be exported to any
non-nuclear-weapon state that is found by the
President to have, at any time after the effective
date of this section detonated a nuclear explosive

But such a termination is not automatic. Such
termination will not take place, according to Section
129(a) of the AEA, “if the President determines that
cessation of such exports would be seriously
prejudicial to the achievement of United States
non-proliferation objectives or otherwise jeopardize
the common defense and security”.

Article 14(2) of the India-UA agreement explicitly
acknowledges this prerogative of the President to
waive termination by stating, “The parties agree to
consider carefully the circumstances which may lead to
termination or cessation of cooperation. They further
agree to take into account whether the circumstances
that may lead to termination or cessation resulted
from a party’s serious concern about a changed
security environment or as a response to similar
actions by other States which could impact national

Therefore, a test by India in future would not
automatically result in any termination of the 123

As for that bogeyman of the Indian opponents of the
deal, the Hyde Act, that Act in discussing termination
of nuclear transfers to India (Article 4(d)(3)) has no
reference to termination on account of testing!

So does that mean India will not suffer any penalty if
it conducts a test? No. It does not. There are other
US laws that require US to sanction a nuclear test by
a non-nuclear weapon state. In particular, Section 102
of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) requires the
President to impose a range of sanctions on such a
country. India did experience such sanction between
May 1998 and September 2001 after the Indian tests in
May 1998. However, even under Section 102 of AECA, the
President does have the authority to waive the
sanctions even though such a waiver requires
congressional approval.

The important fact that should be kept in mind is,
however, the fact that no additional sanctions beyond
those which are already mandated are required to be
made as a result of the 123 agreement. On the other
hand the agreement reinforces in an explicit manner
the waiver authority already granted to the President
in the imposition of sanctions against India if India
were to conduct a test in future. There is no
guarantee that the US President will not impose any
sanctions on India in the event of a test. Much will
depend on the circumstances that compel India to
conduct a test in future. As for present all analysts,
with a handful of exceptions, are in agreement that
India need not conduct a test in the present

India, however, fully retains the right to conduct a
test in future if it considers that the security
environment has changed because of some action by an
external power, most notably a test by a state India
considers to be inimical to Indian security. In that
case India will conduct a test. Depending on the
circumstance the US may or may not impose any
sanctions on India. But those are decisions for future
leaders in both the countries to take. The only sure
fact is that India has the right to conduct a test and
it will do so taking into account all factors that
contribute to its national security. There is
absolutely no reason to believe that any of Indian
rights have been conceded in the 123 agreement.

The writer is visiting fellow at IDSA and National
Maritime Foundation

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