My op-ed in Mint: Don’t lose sleep over reprocessing

And anyway, the United States just confirmed that it won’t block ENR technology transfers to India

Image: Jayachandran/Mint (Copyright © 2009. Mint)
Image: Jayachandran/Mint (Copyright © 2009. Mint)

In today’s Mint, I argue that the anxiety over the G-8 statement on restricting transfers of enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technologies is unwarranted.

It might be that the Obama administration’s prejudices make it less sensitive to its own need to strengthen the India-US relationship by building on common interests. On any number of issues— from balancing China, stabilizing Afghanistan-Pakistan, to engaging Iran and addressing climate change—the US cannot do without India’s cooperation. It will be impossible for the United Progressive Alliance government to take bold steps in any of these areas if the US is seen as insensitive to Indian interests or, worse, reneging on its commitments. [Mint]

This is echoed by Arundhati Ghose, a stalwart of the Indian foreign service, in a piece that also appeared in the same newspaper. The India-US nuclear agreement, she notes “was meant to remove the nuclear thorn in the side of Indo-US relations. Even if this issue is not on the agenda of secretary of state Clinton, the opportunity should not be missed to clarify issues rather than permit a potential irritant to fester.”

The good news is that when asked if “if America opposed transfer of ENR technology to India, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton replied, “Well, clearly we don’t.”” The joint statement (linkthanks Ram Narayanan) at the end of her visit says “India and the United States will begin consultations on reprocessing arrangements and procedures, as provided in Article 6 (iii) of the 123 Agreement for Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation between India and the United States.”

71 thoughts on “My op-ed in Mint: Don’t lose sleep over reprocessing”

  1. yes, and he explicitly argued against foreign rulers—a pity your reading was only superficial…

  2. oooh, even better, how bout we completely botch the definition of realism by referring to it as “focussed (sic) and results-oriented” .Wow, are you a motivational speaker in your spare time? I suppose it was only a matter of time for an indian Anthony Robbins…

    for those who actually care about nuance, here is the difference:

    realism in actuality is the political philosophy behind realpolitik
    realpolitik is a prescriptive guideline for policymaking.

  3. Who guarantees Europe’s security? US? Just because they have some bases in Germany and Kosovo? Seriously? And who does US protect Europe against? Russians? LOLZ! Yeah right when most of the natural gas for Germany comes from Russia. I think this kind of thinking is lame, lazy and ignores the ground realities. Not to mention that it hugely overestimates American capabilities and is deeply offensive to Europeans. The only use of these bases in Europe is to serve as launching pads for US in wars against other small countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. If anyone thinks they protect Europe that is highly naive.

  4. In this talk of “caution” and “prudence” I’m reminded of that great quote by PVNR who said

    “Inaction is also a form of action”

    Now u need to have attained the Absolute to understand the “complete meaning” of that statement LOLZ!!

  5. Hi all,

    While the discussion is indeed interesting, please stop the personal attacks on each other immediately.

  6. Nitin,

    Can you point me to any article which will actually talk about the contribution to the power generation from Nuclear sources at the end of 5 years of UPA-II rule. Also what fraction of this was due to the nuclear deal and what was due to already existing facilities?

    Thanks in advance

  7. Gee, Arvind, I’m glad you took the time to learn about the Nabucco pipeline that the US recently pushed (successfully) in order to bypass Russia and supply europe outside of the kremlin’s turf. Security takes many forms, and the US has just helped guarantee european economic security from putin’s goal of gas monopoly…Also, there are dozens of countries under the US nuclear umbrella, many or most of them (including Germany) are European…and with a nuclear iran beginning to become a serious reality, europeans are naturally concerned about being within their missile range.

    If you can’t tell the difference between prudence and inaction, then i’m afraid that just speaks for itself. One can prudently invest in one’s own defense establishment. Is that inaction? No. Prudence dictates developing a portfolio of alternatives, not irrevocably denying oneself the ability to test and hamstringing one’s own deterrent capabilities and god only knows what else.

    FYI, PVNR was prob India’s greatest prime minister (Nehru’s institution building of modern india was great, but we are also familiar with his many himalayan blunders…). He successfully turned the tide in kashmir, set india on its path to truly developing a nuclear deterrent, initiated india’s economic reforms, developed the look east policy, and initiated a number of covert programs to punish pak for its proxy war. He was…gasp…prudent. If he saw the support that exists for the ndeal today, i’m sure he’d doing more than just pouting…

    Anyhow, as I have said repeatedly, we are waay off topic, and most of these appear to just be petty personal attempts at oneupmanship…as nitin noted, let’s move on.

  8. Sudhir,

    No, I can’t. That question needs to be directed at the UPA government or its supporters. Looks like you didn’t read my op-ed fully.

  9. There are clearly many things India can do wrong, like the recent Sharamable cockup by the Prime Minister, which can negate any possible benefits of the nuclear deal, and that could still happen if Indians are not more careful. Being pro- or anti- something is for politically motivated people.

  10. Nitin,

    I am not asking you as a government supporter or opposer. I am simply asking you the data. I just want to know as to how beneficial the deal will be. I have read the series of articles opposing the deal by Arun Shourie but have not seen any rebuttal of those articles. Since the deal is thought to be very beneficial, I would like to know in terms of numbers its implications in India.

    Please do not take the comment as any accusation. (I asked you because you seem to follow the government and its affairs closely. No probs if you do not have any of those articles. )

    Folks posting comments in favor of the deal can you please point me to such an article if available.

  11. Sudhir, the real benefits of the deal have already started showing up with the bilateral agreements with Russia, France, and Kazakhstan. In the case of Kazakhstan, India has signed bilateral deals to sell Indian nuke plants to Kazatomprom which is then allowed to be a reseller to China. This ensures that China has an interest in not knifing India-Kazakh nuke cooperation. India has also invested in Uranium mines in Saout Africa and Kazakhstan among other places. countries like Australia are playing hard to get unless India signs up to the NPT, but they are already having trouble selling their raw materials to China, so they need buyers other than China to hedge their bets, so I suspect they will eventually come around if the global economic situation takes a mean downturn and puts them in a worse situation than today.

  12. In the long term, once India becomes a civilian nuclear supplier country and forces its way into the NSG, the risks of NSG working to corner India will go away. Also, the fact that NSG is a business cartel makes it easier to break consensus among the members, once they are convinced that India has no intention of wasting its talent and skills in making bigger bombs, but it is more in the civilian realm. That may need some theaterics that hinge on the “unilateral moratorium” fig leaf maintained by India without signing away the rights to develop better engineered stuff.

  13. ooh, anatomical reference real classy…thanks for proving my point. since you decided to degrade yourself to schoolyard name-calling, here’s an elementary school classic: “i’m rubber, you’re glue…”.
    In the interest of being “focussed (sic) and results oriented”, I think this horse has been thoroughly beaten and it’s time to move on. the sharam statement post is more interesting. see you all on there..

    here are some links related to your request:

    link link

    Dr. Brahma Chellaney provided the most in-depth analysis of any commentator and has done the nation a great service with his study. He even includes a response by Kapil Sibal (very vague and lacking in specifics) and his counter response. The first link includes a recent post on the EUMA as well, but the rest are centered on the ndeal specifically. Also google Bharat Karnad and A.N. Prasad, who have also researched the deal’s implications. Hope these help…

  14. The EUMA is a big storm in a bloody tea cup. Indians have not been able to build a National Military Industrial Complex since the past sixty two years due to a thriving commission industry built by the Neta Babu Dalaal network. The profits earned by this network from the international arms market goes into more than hundred million dollars.

    Our traditional suppliars – the Russians have made a very strange turnaround recently with regards to the Gorshkov deal. The blackmailing tactics have made them unreliable suppliars.

    This leaves behind the European Cartel, Israel and the US. The European cartel does not have the technological edge as compared to what the US manufactures. Everything high tech the Israelis own is supplied by the US. So this agreement with the Americans is a good one.

    Those who say the EUMA compromises national security should first look at the facts. Indian military has lost its conventional arms superiority which it traditionally had against the islamic republic of pakistan. And no feasable comparision is possible with China.

    The pakistanis have used the 12 billion dollar western aid flow since 9/11 to build a vast arsenel against India. They have scaled their power much beyond Indian capacities. This is just a rough list of their arsenel.


    Even we dont have JDAM weapons in our arsenel. And neither do we have a proper BMD system that can defend our major cities from a missile barrage. I am sure none of these slogan shouting mp’s know this fact.

    We dont have the capacities to build these very high tech weapons fast enough at the current tech level we are today. If we start today, it will take at least twenty five years to match up with western or russian standards. The only way out is by importing these systems. And the EUMA is just a minor formality that gives you the most important thing – access to weapons that one needs for national defense.

    This is against national interest is a god damned slogans Indians have perfected – and like all slogans, it shuts down all thinking.

  15. It isn’t a storm in a teacup since arms control experts themselves have commented on it. Here is a a factsheet on the topic:

    EUMA is not a mere formality as even use within the country of purchased weapons is restricted. Please respond in specifics not in general terms.

    No one is saying india doesn’t need to expand its arsenal–it obviously does. But between points A and Z there are a myriad of options with respect to diplomatic agreements. Buying US arms and no EUMA need not be an either or when you’re the world’s largest military importer (which, frankly, isn’t something to be proud about). Ultimately, India needs to think about developing and not just buying and act on it.

  16. What has been agreed to is a way for India to make purchases from the US with the full understanding of the consequences FOR ANY AND ALL PURCHASES MADE. This is important because allowing the Indian army/bureaucracy to individually work with the US side is fraught with danger, especially since we Indians are aware of the lack of organized coherence in such matters.

    This EUMA only strengthens India’s hand by providing a uniform set of “requirements” that India can expect if and when it buys any American military hardware down the line.

    All you chanakya-wannabes need to figure this out: “Possession is 9/10s of the law”, so if you want to waste time on theaterics (which is useful sometimes too), do it after you possess what you need to possess.

    This comment has been edited. Please keep the discussion civil as there’s no need to spoil good arguments with irrelevant things — Ed

  17. Note: Please do not post raw URLs. It says so in the caveat. I’ve corrected as many as I could, but please don’t spoil the look of this place. It’s not so difficult to learn how to enclose your links in valid HTML tags.

  18. To the uncivil poster above, here’s some knowledge…both sides of the story (scroll down for Bharat Karnad, or the “chanakyan” version):


    As usual, it is Karnad who offers specifics in contrast to what we read above from our friend, hulagu.This is like a junkie boasting to his dealer that he has all the power following purchase due to possession…what are you going to do when you need a refill of…spare parts?

    *Nitin, sorry if this ends up showing up as a raw link

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