The deal is done

‘Historic’, ‘landmark’ and all of those

After more than half a year of intense public debate — in both countries — the deal is done. President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have signed the nuclear co-operation deal. In their public comments, Bush used less ambiguous language than Singh, that is perhaps more reflective of their personalities than anything else.

The focus now shifts to the United States Congress, for what is essentially a domestic debate for America. The Indian political establishment and the strategic community had to slaughter some of their sacred cows in the run up to the signing of this deal. It is America’s turn now. It will be interesting.

24 thoughts on “The deal is done”

  1. Nitin: I would’nt rejoice so soon. We still don’t know the terms of agreement – how many reactors to be safeguarded, what about FBR, and what about the “in perpetuity” clause and exactly what kind of safeguards (IAEA full-scope?).

    And don’t forget the obligatory trip to Pakistan: W might offer quite a few gifts: P-3C, F-16 Blk50 with AMRAAM and AIM sidewinder, etc.

  2. Well, F16s Pak was getting anyway. Same goes for the P3C and even more. It is going to be difficult for Bush to ignore Pak as long as they are the ‘allies against terrorism’ for the US. Besides, whatever arms the US refuses, they know the Chinese can gladly help out with. Pak is already working with China for the Chinese next generation fighters.

    In any case, for the US to have any sort of influence in Pak, they must support the dictator, supply arms and not explicitly denounce Pak. A hostile Pak administration is definitely not in the interests of the US. Loss of US clout in Pak will definitely not be in India’s interests because then it easily becomes China’s pawn. And we all know China is adept at letting others fight its own wars.

  3. CN: looks like 14 reactors will be designated as “civilian” – 8 remain “military”. Fast Breeder (FBR) is not included in the inspections list. Saw a long discussion on “perpetuity” of inspections vs. in return for “perpetuity” of fuel supply. Any ideas on what that might mean?
    Cheers.

  4. Just prior to Bush’s departure, the trip was disussed at length on a Chicago radio show. They interviewed Sumit Ganguly, who is chair of the India Studies department at Indian University. He gives an excellent analysis of what is at stake for both the U.S. and India.

    Bush in India – Nuclear Deal Good for India (go to the Feb 28th program)

    http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/audio_library/wv_rafeb06.asp

  5. libertarian: 14 was what India offered. FBR is out, for now. “in perpetuity” vs in return for “uninterruped fuel supply” means as long as the inspections are allowed, the fuel will keep coming. Now that is good in theory. They say it will be arbitrated by a ‘council of experts’ – now who are they?

    So who knows what will happen if a future Indian govt tests an ICBM/SLBM which annoys the hell out of the American govt. at that time.

    In reality the IAEA faithfully reports everything to the Americans (who fund 50% of its budget). They say there an India-specific IAEA safeguard will be cooked up – details awaited

    For me the best guarentee of fuel is to get the Uranium supply directly from basket-case countries like Niger/Nigeria in return for massive economic assistance. Indian boots can be sent there to maintain ‘peace’ and the Navy should bring back the fuel with full military ‘honors’. The spent fuel can be returned if needed.

    best,

  6. CN: your suggested strategy of “securing” nuclear supplies directly has (I think) a fatal flaw: we’ll be outlaws in the nuclear community and will face all kinds of pressure from the Nuclear Suppliers Group. That’s not in line with what we aspire to be. We can just as easily secure these supplies through some horse-trading (what’s happening currently) rather than by strong-arming.

    Your concerns are well-founded (and thoroughly researched as usual). Long-term, we need to get off of the Uranium habit and develop a Thorium habit – we have 25% of the world’s Thorium reserves. The segway to Thorium – barring a Manhattan-Project of sorts – must run through Uranium though.

  7. Cynical nerd,

    If you followed the Plame-Niger controversy, you would know that
    Uranium mines are run by a French company. So your suggestion
    would be moot.

    Besides, India is more interested in technology. Uranium is only needed
    until Thorium comes in line.

    President Kalam’s speech on science day give a good synopsis of what is need to be done.

    http://presidentofindia.nic.in/scripts/eventslatest1.jsp?id=1172

  8. I am aware that Niger is related to Plamegame. I had a post on various options possible.

    Guys, the Nuclear Suppliers Group is not some divine organization. Think big. India should gatecrash into it to ensure the supplies. China became an IAEA member in 84 and entered the NSG only in 2004. Now it is negotiating directly with Kazakhastan to get its own mines.

    btw, It will take a couple of decades at the last for the Thorium cycle to even begin (you will still need a somewhat significant amount of Uranium ‘seed’, needed to start the Pu breeding or someone should sell us reprocessed Pu directly).

    best,

  9. ‘Historic’, ‘landmark’, ‘a very big deal’, ‘say hello to a brand nuke India’…. Let us all be optmistic…

  10. Nitin, Cynical Nerd et al.:

    I am also going to wait for details on the nuclear accord from the GOI. While most of the press reports on the details of the treaty left me pleased with the treaty, there are at least a few reports which cast the agreement in a less favorable light.

    Most worrisome is K.P. Nayar’s account in the The Telegraph that the PM has agreed that any future expansion of military facilities will be only ‘adjuncts’ to existing ones (an “unstated clause” writes Mr. Nayar), and to classify all future breeder-reactors as civilian. I wonder if the latter is also an ‘unstated’ part of the treaty, since other reports have said that the decision to classify future reactors as civilian or military is entirely up to India.

    I haven’t come across other reports which corroborate Mr. Nayar’s account. Has anyone else run across other reports which confirm it?

    Has the GOI made such promises on the side to the American govt.? I do hope the GOI will clarify what promises, if any, it made to the American govt.

    Kumar

  11. Kumar: Interesting piece. I really doubt if the ‘unstated clause’ will go unnoticed – the deal is going to be ripped open in India – and more so in the US will live television coverage! I don’t think there are any limtits on building future ones – as long as all the components are sourced locally (like India always did). The new deal is only about selling civil nuclear reactors.

    best,

  12. Here is what KnightRidder report said:

    “Eight reactors wouldn’t be covered by the safeguards and could remain sources of plutonium for weapons. The facilities include several civilian power plants and a fast-breeder reactor that will produce large amounts of plutonium.

    While many details of the agreement weren’t disclosed, experts said that safeguards also wouldn’t cover existing spent reactor fuel, which contains enough plutonium for more than 1,000 weapons, and a facility for enriching uranium, which also can be used to make nuclear weapons.”

    All future reactors should be civilian. 8 reactors is enough, I don’t think
    India needs more than 100. It is all about making sure pakistan can’t
    tell how many India has. and that R&D is on going.

  13. I think this deal is good overall, but the China angle on the deal really is coming up a lot, and all I can say is, we should be very cautious about reflexively assuming the role of “counterweight to China.” India has been played like a fiddle by Euro powers before– by Britain of course when they had placed their brutal boot on our necks, but also by the USSR. The alliance with the USSR was great for them since they used us as a proxy in the region, but hardly of the same benefit to us.

    The notion of being a counterweight to China is a goal of US strategists– it is not something that benefits India, and the US would like nothing better than to have it’s own proxy in Asia to do its bidding, or to see China and India both take each other out. China could be very useful, even essential as a trading partner over the long term, and with the US saddled with trillions in debt and growing massively every day, their superpower status is increasingly draining away.

    My point being– India’s foreign policy must be intensely, if necessary obnoxiously, independent, with no foolish strategic alliances encumbering us in things that would not be in our interest. Both China and the US can be friends and trading partners, or foes depending on the circumstances. We must not lose sight of that.

  14. Another thing I want to add– be very, very wary about US attitudes toward Hinduism. The evangelical Christians who are big political players in the US, also have India (and the destruction of Hinduism) in their crosshairs. It’s the American missionary groups that are providing the most funding to convert Hindus thoughout India, and in many US evangelical organizations, Hinduism is held up as a religion to be among the most despised b/c of it’s superficial resemblance (in their eyes) with the polytheistic creeds that early Christians stamped out. Be very, very careful about handing too much over to these people.

  15. Alok, as I’ve mentioned before, China has long been pursuing a “containment” strategy towards India using Pakistan and Myanmaar (and increasingly, Bangladesh), and this is going to continue regardless of how the Indo-American relationship evolves. I don’t think it’s crazy to suggest that it’s in India’s interests to try and turn the tables a little. And it’s important not to confuse growing trade ties with a growing geopolitical friendship – after all, China annual trade with both Japan and the US easily dwarfs its annual trade with India.

    As for the evangelicals, I’m no fan of them myself, but they hardly represent American public opinion in general. There was a WorldGlobalOpinion poll recently which rated American attitudes towards India as being better than the attitudes of a number of European countries. Also, it’s worth noting that Bush is an evangelical himself, and considers them a key political constituency, but decided to go ahead with the nuclear deal anyway.

  16. “As for the evangelicals, I’m no fan of them myself, but they hardly represent American public opinion in general.”

    Eh? Eric, are you serious? The evangelicals in America may not be an absolute majority, but Alok is 100% right to be warning us here b/c the evangelicals are very numerous (over 100 million) and very, very powerful politically. They are in fact, the most powerful single political bloc in the US, and their power grows every year. That’s why the top leaders in both houses of the US Congress (until Tom Delay’s recent scandals) have been rather extreme evangelical Christians, the type who believe that Armageddon is soon a’comin’ and you’d better get your ducks in a row (and maybe even start the war to “hurry things up a bit”). Yes, there’s some diversity of opinion among the evangelicals, but I have to agree with Alok here– the hostility against Hinduism among the evangelicals is very severe. The intense types like Delay have all but singled out India as (eventual) enemy #1 because we’re supposedly a bunch of pagans in their eyes, but even the more “moderate” ones are at best cool to India, at worst despise us to the core. Yes, I know that all Christians aren’t like this, I have very close friends among them who respect me and my culture, but the most politically organized and powerful segment is very hostile to us and our culture, and we would be foolish to ignore this fact.

    To the extent that some Americans view India positively, Eric, come on. Americans pay very little attention overall to foreign affairs in general, and they tend to have positive views of most Asian countries– China, Japan, Vietnam, even Pakistan get very high marks, in fact Pakistan often gets the highest because Musharrathug is supposedly an “ally” in the US war on terror. Most of them don’t connect the dots right off the bat (India = Hindu = bad, bad pagans who’d better convert), but there’s a pretty systematic indoctrination among the people who constitute the US’s most powerful constituency, which as mentioned is Bush’s main support base. Don’t read too much into his supposed pro-India stance, Bush has contradicted his evangelical base on other issues (e.g. calling Islam a “religion of peace” and saying that Muslims worship the same God, which incensed the evangelicals). The point being, that Bush will be out of power within a few years and he shares power with other very powerful people whose core beliefs demand that they be hostile to India as a matter of course, or at the very least, to encourage intense efforts to convert India and destroy Hindu culture for good.

    As for China, I’m ambivalent. I’ve met a good number of Chinese nationals studying in the US, intending to return to China, and all have had favorable opinions of India. They like the fact that we have a working democracy of a billion people, and they not only respect us but *look up to us*. I met half a dozen Chinese students, in the sciences, who were actually studying Hindi (or Tamil, in one of the cases) because they thought that India would be China’s best friend in the coming decades. Be patient– I suspect that in 10-15 years, China will have something resembling a democracy itself, if more restrictive than the style in India. China could be a partner in energy sharing and I suspect that they will indeed soon be our biggest trading partner, so I don’t think there’s any natural reason for an Indo-Chinese enmity. Remember, too, that China isn’t sending missionaries into India trying to convert our people away from our defining culture to Confucianism, either. I’m sorry Eric, but Alok’s right– this has the stench of a big, powerful Western country trying to pit us against each other, and I for one think that India should stay on the fence with both major powers and stay out of any alliances whatsoever.

  17. The evangelicals in America may not be an absolute majority, but Alok is 100% right to be warning us here b/c the evangelicals are very numerous (over 100 million) and very, very powerful politically.

    Could you show me where you got that 100 million number for American evangelicals? The one I’ve generally seen is 30 million. And even they aren’t a monolith, with a sizable minority voting Democratic.

    To the extent that some Americans view India positively, Eric, come on. Americans pay very little attention overall to foreign affairs in general, and they tend to have positive views of most Asian countries

    Yes, many Americans don’t pay much attention to foreign affairs, but polls have shown that attitudes towards India (public approval in the high 50s) are notably better than attitudes towards China and Pakistan (approval in the low 40s and high 30s). The public can differentiate that much.

    Don’t read too much into his supposed pro-India stance, Bush has contradicted his evangelical base on other issues (e.g. calling Islam a “religion of peace” and saying that Muslims worship the same God, which incensed the evangelicals).

    And as I pointed out, the fact that Bush is one of them should tell you that they’re not all Hindu-hating (or Muslim-hating) bigots. I’m not happy with rise of evangelicals as a political force in America, to put it mildly, but this degree of stereotyping is useless.

    they be hostile to India as a matter of course, or at the very least, to encourage intense efforts to convert India and destroy Hindu culture for good.

    Considering that there are about 900 million Hindus out there, I’d say that you’re getting pretty paranoid here.

    I’ve met a good number of Chinese nationals studying in the US, intending to return to China, and all have had favorable opinions of India. They like the fact that we have a working democracy of a billion people, and they not only respect us but *look up to us*.

    I think it would be unwise to base your views on either Chinese public opinion or the attitudes of China’s political elites on the beliefs of Chinese students in America. If such a corollary applied to Indian students in America, then India’s economic liberalization would be moving at full-tilt and the CPI, CPI-M, SP, RJD, etc. wouldn’t have a single MP in the Lok Sabha. I really wish that was the case, but reality proves otherwise.

    In all fairness, I don’t think the Chinese people or China’s political elites view India as an enemy in the manner they do Japan. But they do see the country as a long-term rival, and this is borne out by China’s close military alliances with Pakistan and Myanmaar, as well as the staunch opposition they’ve shown to the Indo-US nuclear deal.

    Be patient– I suspect that in 10-15 years, China will have something resembling a democracy itself, if more restrictive than the style in India.

    I think it’ll take about 20-25 years, and in the interim runs the risk of being derailed by a lower-class uprising or the rise of militant nationalism (similar to Imperial Japan in the 1920s-30s). But even if that doesn’t happen, it doesn’t follow that two democracies won’t see each other as rivals. See America and Russia, Turkey and Greece, South Korea and Japan, etc.

    China could be a partner in energy sharing and I suspect that they will indeed soon be our biggest trading partner, so I don’t think there’s any natural reason for an Indo-Chinese enmity.

    Like I said, ask the Japanese if they think their enormous trade relationship with China (much larger than India’s) means that the two countries are friends.

  18. “And as I pointed out, the fact that Bush is one of them should tell you that they’re not all Hindu-hating (or Muslim-hating) bigots.”

    I never said all of them were, Eric, any movement has a central core of adherents and lots of people on the edges who may adhere to the core doctrine to varying degrees. Bush obviously has other pressures coming from other sides, and remember, he only came to the evangelical fold by mid-age– even many evangelicals consider him to be a borderline evangelical at that. The point is that Hinduism is seen as a pagan, dangerous religion by the rank and file, and that’s unfortunately what the ministers bellow out from their pulpits. The missionary groups are especially determined to hit India pretty hard. Some links: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2002/013/15.22.html http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/119/52.0.html http://in.news.yahoo.com/050116/139/2j1rp.html http://www.indpride.com/christianmissionaries.html http://www.hvk.org/articles/0403/194.html

    There’s no systematic study of this thing so I don’t really know how to back up these points anymore than by providing links to give you a feel for them, but the missionary drive is strongest in India because Hinduism is depicted as an unacceptable faith from which believers must be “rescued.” Again, there are caveats galore here. Christian Indians in Kerala are our brothers and sisters, I myself have close Christian friends in the US who are respectful, I certainly don’t support these stupid violent acts against the missionaries that have happening recently. The point is, there’s a level of anti-Hindu aggressiveness among the evangelicals that’s scary, and they (not to mention the Pope) have consistently targeted India as the next Christian-majority country, at the expense of Hinduism. I don’t know how else to put it. There are decent and respectful Christians, and bigoted and proselytizing Christians, but unfortunately the latter group constitutes a pretty big and powerful group in America. As for the specific numbers: http://www.wheaton.edu/isae/defining_evangelicalism.html http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0526,ridgeway,65361,2.html

    Again, you can haggle about the specific numbers, and obviously among this group there are many evangelicals who aren’t so against Hinduism (although, conversely, there are many non-evangelicals, such as Catholics, who are), but the point is that there is a large, powerful, politically organized bloc of people in the halls of power in the US who have, at best, a very unfavorable impression of Hinduism and often an ardent desire to trash Hindu civilization. This does not mean that the US will inevitably morph into India’s most dangerous enemy in 10 years, but it’s something to give us a lot of pause about investing too much in the relationship. Thus the core of my point– avoid the entanglements of a strategic relationship with the US or anybody else. Along the same lines:

    China could be a partner in energy sharing and I suspect that they will indeed soon be our biggest trading partner, so I don’t think there’s any natural reason for an Indo-Chinese enmity.

    “Like I said, ask the Japanese if they think their enormous trade relationship with China (much larger than India’s) means that the two countries are friends.”

    And like I said, that doesn’t make them enemies either. The trade relationship between the two hasn’t made them bosom buddies but it has been a stabilizing force in their relationship– in fact, those big protests in Beijing were suppressed by the central government in part because they realized they’d screwed up and were potentially hurting valuable business partnerships with Japanese firms. Who knows? Maybe in 20 years they’ll have warm relations with each other– younger Chinese seem to be into Japanese culture, even if they try to hide it from their parents.

    It’s just plainly ridiculous to take any country as an “enemy” or “friend” out of hand. The US and India *were* enemies only about 20 years ago, with India aligned with the USSR and the US firmly with Pakistan, and obviously that’s changed. The flip side of the coin, of course, is that whatever concerns we have about China now, China could wind up being an enemy in 20 years, or at least a grudging friend depending on the circumstances. The British used to slaughter us en masse, to the tune of perhaps 35 million people– http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/southasia/History/British/Bayly.html — yet today, India and Britain get along pretty well.

    What I’m inveighing against here, is not caution toward China (which I harbor myself), but this lame, knee-jerk reaction that seems to go, “Oh, Bush and Singh just got a mutual understanding going, time for us Indians to fall into line and kiss up to the US powermongers’ plans to have us be an opponent of China.” That would not be in our interest, and we’d be foolish to just fall into that trap. What if the US economy goes south in the next decade? With a debt very near $10 trillion as we’ve been talking about and rising, a nasty US recession and even a depression is a distinct possibility. (I minored in economics, so I study yield curves for fun, and the current one has a nasty inversion— never a pretty sight.) It’d be awfully nice to have a big, hungry China as a market for us as well. Screw the counterweight talk– we’re nobody’s pawn.

    What we should do, frankly, is to offer up some possibilities for alliance-type deals with China and break the ice the way Singh and Bush have been thawing the ugly US-Indian relations of the past few decades. Maybe the two of us could be involved in a joint natural gas exploration project, or maybe we could involve ourselves in a solid Asian trading bloc, with low tariffs to mutual benefit. But whatever the specifics, we should stay away from labeling either the US or China as friend or ally, and try to reach out to both. I don’t have the time to pursue this thread anymore so I’ll leave it at that. I think you and I are actually closer in opinion on most of these things than our posts might suggest, but I tend to be of the cautious side when it comes to international relations. Countries that cozy up too closely to others w/o hedging their national interests almost always wind up getting burned pretty badly.

  19. Bush obviously has other pressures coming from other sides, and remember, he only came to the evangelical fold by mid-age–

    If you’ve been following the evangelical movement, you’d know that’s this is true for a lot of them. Bush is hardly unusual.

    The point is that Hinduism is seen as a pagan, dangerous religion by the rank and file

    Many of them don’t like Islam either. Even with the White House under the control of an evangelical Republican, these prejudices, which I admit are there, don’t come close to dominating American foreign policy. That should tell you something.

    Seriously, I hope you realize that this deal, which ends decades of nuclear isolation for India and required some political courage on Bush’s part, would’ve never been done had Kerry won in 2004. The Republicans, evangelicals and all, are notably keener on drawing closer to India than the Democrats right now.

    Again, you can haggle about the specific numbers

    I’d say there’s a pretty big difference between 30 million and 100 million.

    The point is, there’s a level of anti-Hindu aggressiveness among the evangelicals that’s scary, and they (not to mention the Pope) have consistently targeted India as the next Christian-majority country, at the expense of Hinduism.

    Can you show me where the Pope has said that? This looks like an unfounded assertion. Regardless, I think you’re pretty paranoid about the potential of a small number of zealous missionaries in fundamentally changing the religious identity of a country with over a billion people in it, of which about 80% are presently Hindu, and only 3% or so are presently Christian. Especially when the missionaries have found Africa, China, and Southeast Asia to be much more fertile ground for gaining converts over the last 50 years than India.

    The trade relationship between the two hasn’t made them bosom buddies but it has been a stabilizing force in their relationship

    You could say the same for the US and China. But it doesn’t change the fact they’re military and geopolitical rivals. And the same is currently true for China and India, as almost anyone in the Indian military or foreign policy establishment would tell you.

    in fact, those big protests in Beijing were suppressed by the central government in part because they realized they’d screwed up and were potentially hurting valuable business partnerships with Japanese firms

    Only after the Chinese government instigated them in the first place.

    but this lame, knee-jerk reaction that seems to go, “Oh, Bush and Singh just got a mutual understanding going, time for us Indians to fall into line and kiss up to the US powermongers’ plans to have us be an opponent of China.”

    Judging by the Indian government’s remarks, not to mention its ongoing ties with Russia and Iran, I don’t think you have to much to worry about in this regard. For that matter, I don’t think the US wants to see India and China at each other’s throats. They just want to see India hold up its own end of a rivalry that’s been going on since 1962, and will probably be going on for decades into the future. And it’s worth pointing out here that India has been losing ground in this rivalry for the last 25 years.

    What if the US economy goes south in the next decade? With a debt very near $10 trillion as we’ve been talking about and rising, a nasty US recession and even a depression is a distinct possibility.

    On a debt/GDP basis, India’s economic situation is worse than America’s, and they don’t have the world’s reserve currency to help buffer the risk.

    Screw the counterweight talk– we’re nobody’s pawn.

    You’re going to have to put this post-colonial, anti-Western paranoia to rest. The US knows better than to think that it can turn a country like India – or even Turkey, Brazil, or South Korea, for that matter – into a mere pawn. What it does think it can do is form an alliance based on common geopolitical interests – and as with any alliance, there’s a natural give-and-take involved that shouldn’t be confused with bullying.

    What we should do, frankly, is to offer up some possibilities for alliance-type deals with China and break the ice the way Singh and Bush have been thawing the ugly US-Indian relations

    Again, given that China has long pursued, and continues to pursue, a foreign policy deliberately targeted at containing India, this seems like wishful thinking. When China throws its support behind the nuclear deal instead of strongly denouncing it, when they start offering to sell India advanced military hardware (or any military hardware, for that matter) the way the US is now doing, and when they stop trying to prop up India’s neighbors with the goal of either counterbalancing India or diminishing India’s influence in these countries, then you can put China and the US on the same geopolitical plane.

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