Sep 22, 2023
Sep 22, 2023
We have been hearing a litany of lies from India's ministers and secretaries that the civilian nuclear deal was almost done and only minor details remained and would be soon ironed out. One of India's national English language dailies has an editorial ignorantly criticizing the bureaucratic stupidity of haggling over trivial technicalities. This shows the abysmal ignorance of the editor. One has to wonder whether the lying public statements by officials are due to the usual incompetence, pressures from vested interests or corrupt bribery like in the Bofors and other previous large deals. There will as usual be no proof, investigations will be thwarted and the country sold down the river as has happened over millennia.
Today, it was finally announced that the US will not permit reprocessing and testing. These were the primary reason for India seeking the deal to overcome the short term shortage of uranium to continue with its three stage strategy of ultimately using its huge supply of monazite (thorium) to build fast breeder reactors and achieve independence in civilian nuclear power technology.
At the cost of tiresome repetition of the nuclear deal, let me explain for the umpteenth time how the whole drama has played out. There is some speculation that India could have exploded a nuclear device before 1964 and then would have been included in the nuclear club without significant restrictions on purchase of nuclear materials and technology. The dependence on US food aid under PL480 and the unfortunate tendency to do salaam to the sahibs were important factors in the procrastination. Indira Gandhi played her cards well for the liberation of Bangladesh but her position nationally began to weaken because of the suit filed against her election shenanigans. Ultimately the case went to the Supreme Court and she declared a national emergency after an adverse verdict. Prior to that she exploded a nuclear device to show off and gain popularity in 1974. She ignored the fact that India had limited uranium ore and she did not stockpile reserves. The US reneged on the Tarapur agreement, imposed sanctions and cut off supplies of HEU.
From 1974 to today, no Indian government opened new uranium mines or increased production. The growing Indian economy was hampered by power shortage and lack of uranium ore. A naive Manmohan Singh gullibly believed that Bush would provide HEU, technology and make India a great power. He was ignorant of the working of the US government as were our idiot representatives in Washington. Any treaty signed by a US president is not law until ratified by the Senate. In the case of a civil nuclear treaty with a non-signer of the NPT (non-proliferation) and CTBT(comprehensive test ban), the US House and the Senate had to pass legislation to exempt India from the prevalent US laws. The House and the Senate at that time had a Republican majority but the Senate did not have sixty Republicans to prevent a filibuster (endless speech making to prolong debate forever and block legislation) by Democrats. There were in both the parties enough opponents of nuclear proliferation that any bill coming out of both houses would have amendments that seriously hamstring any collaboration with India.
In fact the whole thing was a trap for India like applying jaggery to one elbow and tying up the other hand and telling the person that they are free to lick and eat the jaggery. The main purpose was to bring India into the NPT and the CTBT by the back door, cap its fissile material, permanently ban it from testing and put its nuclear installations under permanent intrusive inspections with need of annual certification of compliance by the US president. In addition the idea was to sell India expensive and outdated nuclear reactors (US has not built one in the last 20+ years) and by trickling the supply of HEU to make it permanently at the mercy of US whims.
The other motives were to scrap the Iran gas pipeline and coerce India to take a hostile stance towards Iran. India because of the lack of foresight of its leaders has a shortage of uranium in the short and intermediate term. Manmohan Singh was foolish enough to believe that the US would provide unlimited and permanent HEU and reprocessing and heavy water technology. This would free up Indian uranium ore for weapon installations. No country and certainly the US is not so foolish to do that as our foolish leaders believe. What the US hopes is that India would scrap its FBRs and give up the Thorium and U233 option and be totally dependent on the US for HEU, which could be used to threaten India to toe the US foreign policy. Various government officials are susceptible to bribes and business interests could make huge sums of money in the import of reactors and materials.
The press and TV media in India are controlled by big business just like in America. They set the parameters of debate and the editorial I mentioned earlier totally ignores the truth and reality and trivializes the critical shortcomings of the nuclear deal by not even mentioning them. Pronouncements and editorials do not inform the public that the 123 agreement must conform to the law of the Hyde Civil Nuclear Act and if it differs from the legislation, the latter trumps the 123 agreement. No amount of verbal assurances or presidential signing wavers can invalidate the legal act and the US can and probably will renege on supply as it did before at Tarapur.
Neither the Indian government, its diplomats in the US or its expensive lobbyists spoke up at the time the legislation was being hammered out in the US Congress or seriously warned that such unacceptable restrictive amendments would make the law and agreement dead at birth and on arrival. What makes it even worse is that if India were to test or reprocess in contravention to the Hyde Act on the basis of a legally invalid but permissive 123 agreement, it could be subjected to US sanctions like Iran is and could be unilaterally attacked like Iraq was.
I believe that the protests of the Indian nuclear scientists are ignored and with the exception of the Asian Age and some smaller papers, they are finding it difficult to get a forum to even express the truth and inform the public. The ministers and secretaries are trying to hide the details of the deal from the parliament either because they are stupid and or dishonest. Could they have been bribed by vested interests or foreign powers as Indira Gandhi used to say? Ashley Tellis, though born in India, is a US citizen and its government official, who has publicly professed that his first loyalty is to the US. He has been unable to satisfactorily answer how India could be a counterbalance to China if its fissile material was capped and testing disallowed, while China improves its nuclear arsenal and shares the expertise with Pakistan.
What would be the point in signing the nuclear deal if India cannot reprocess the spent uranium to obtain Plutonium which can be used with Thorium in the fast breeder reactors to generate U233 to use it with indigenous abundant Thorium to become self-sufficient in HEU in the future. Furthermore in 1998 the Pokhran test for a fusion weapon failed. We need to test again to perfect it. India's current ability is just that of a Hiroshima type 15 kiloton fission device. China has fusion weapons of megatons (thousand or more times potent) and will share them with Pakistan as it shared cruise missiles and fission weapons. India has not even fully weaponized its nuclear arsenal and it is not operational. If India is attacked by appropriately aimed fusion weapons, it would neither have a second strike capability nor the gumption to retaliate after such a devastating first blow and would meekly surrender and capitulate as it did with the Islamic and European invaders.
Once one understands all this, it should raise serious questions why any Indian government of honest patriotic nature would want to sign on to this agreement? I can think of no motive based on honesty, patriotism, strategic wisdom or practical necessity. I leave it to the imagination of the readers to discern what the motives and rationales of the current government are. It behooves honest patriots to read, understand and widely disseminate this article to generate protest against and answers for the reason why the current government wants to sign it in a clandestine fashion without informing the public or permitting honest and open debate in the parliament or the media.
More by : Gaurang Bhatt, MD