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. I don’t see how the US’s superficial statements of “we will not stop ENR tech transfer to India” amount to them reversing the stand they took at G-8. Seems like wishful thinking given the level of paranoia in the USA about enriching any material for bomb making…they do not really care about nuclear energy issues all that much. There has been a reversal in India policy between the previous and current administrations from the Indian point of view.

  2. If we really want an honest dialogue on the topic, it might do well to answer as to why MMS cut the Atomic Energy Budget by 40% in 2008 and why in spite of his statements about a lack of supply (and nuclear being the future), India actually has enough nuclear fuel for all its facilities for decades.

    If we really want india to be self-sufficient when it comes to energy, it must invest in renewable. Nuclear, whether uranium or thorium based is harmful to the environment (whatever one may say about positive impact on climate change) and is detrimental to the health of people in surrounding areas. Its real benefit is strategic, and as brahma chellaney pointed out the P-5 only have token “audits” by the IAEA, india has opened itself to permanent and irrevocable audits “in perpetuity”–and all the espionage that goes with it. while one may argue that it is only civilian installations, one must remember that all strategic programs rely on cooperation between both, which is why the P-5 retain the right to reclassify facilities on a whim. India did not. Moreover, all the cutting edge nuclear technology being developed in civilian facilities is then opened up to outsiders…

    With due respect to Mr. Pai, whose work on other topics I enjoy
    reading–esp those by my namesake, I’m afraid this post and its predecessors are absent the details needed to even begin to address the concerns raised by brahma chellaney, bharat karnad, and a.n. prasad.

    Indeed, as they noted, this deal actually leaves india in a weaker position to deal with the alphabet soup of nonproliferation treaties, since, as with the deal, the goal posts will continue to be shifted while india is hobbled with expensive LWRs and an increased need for nuclear fuel for which its PM has hobbled indigenous sources, for which of course, only the NSG can authorize and deny supply. As part of the deal, MMS agreed to shutdown the recently refurbished CIRUS reactor which provides india with strategic fissile material. With this shutdown, what kind of position would india even begin to have with the FMCT? FYI, all the p-5 are modernizing their arsenals, and pakistan has doubled-down on nuclear production (and probably already has surpassed india’s arsenal), all while this government is talking disarmament…

  3. @chanakya @alagu

    I’m impressed with the certitude you guys have of your own opinions. If they are so unshakeable, and so unconvinceable, so attuned to the views of pundits who you agree with, why should anyone bother to try and convince you?

  4. Alagu

    I don’t see how the US’s superficial statements of “we will not stop ENR tech transfer to India” amount to them reversing the stand they took at G-8.

    Well, words for words. If you like your anxiety meter to be that way, then that’s entirely your decision 🙂 You can choose what you want to believe. The point is it does not matter whether they sell or not.

  5. Udayan, intriguing, because i’m pretty sure we can say the same about you. I think the one difference is we’re actually open to debating specific points and would love to be convinced that india is actually gaining something from this. that is why i have repeatedly asked you distinguished gentlemen why mms declared nuclear to be the future then proceeded to cut india’s atomic budget and curtail indigenous mining. i have yet to receive an answer which is why i reposted. in all sincerity, please rebut these points, and i would be happy to politely exchange views and digest new information.

    however, other than the usual “history will not forgive us” “the deal is in our interest” “we have got a clean waiver”, “anxiety…about ENR restrictions is unwarranted” and other platitudes and assorted bromides, i’m afraid your camp has yet to deal with specifics of the concerns raised by the eminent thinkers and scientist cited above. between them, there is an arms control expert (schooled in how international law is used to further strategic aims), a nuclear doctrine expert, and a nuclear scientist.

  6. chanakya
    With due respect to Mr. Pai, whose work on other topics I enjoy
    reading–esp those by my namesake, I’m afraid this post and its predecessors are absent the details needed to even begin to address the concerns raised by brahma chellaney, bharat karnad, and a.n. prasad.

    I saw your comment on the previous post.

    Don’t get too caught up in the details. While they provide a general sense of what’s agreed, and provide an infinite amount of amusement and heartburn, they don’t matter too much. What you should worry about is how we change the geopolitical context to ensure that we get what we want.

  7. @chanakya

    I’m not in any camp. And I’m not even making any arguments. Just felt that too many of you ‘it’s a rotten deal’ types can’t seem to get over the fact that it is done, it seems to be going the way MMS said it will go, the US is saying they’ll go with it, and generally that you guys lost the argument long ago.

    So now you want to claim that the reactors that we will buy are lousy, when we haven’t bought any. And you want to talk about budget cuts, domestic mining and suchlike as if those policies are written in some Holy Book. I say that MMS has every right to do what he wants to do with the budget and do what he likes with the nuclear deal. The dude won the vote in parliament and in the general election and that settles the matter. Jai Ho!

  8. Nitinji,

    Thank you for your response–I appreciate it. With all due respect, I am forced to adamantly disagree with you. The devil is always in the details, especially when it comes to legal documents and contracts which are taken very seriously in the united states.

    After all, the imperial farman to the EIC, “subsidiary alliance” treaties and “doctrine of lapse” were all mere details, and if i recall, they all ultimately resulted in the British Raj, so please don’t disregard these very important concerns raised by those eminent gentlemen, as India’s strategic arsenal is on the line. International law is both the future of global governance and at the same time yet another playing field for nations to achieve their strategic goals and vie with other states. India has to be exceedingly careful about what it signs esp with the nonproliferation ayatollahs itching to punish her for pokhran. If india truly wants to be in a position to facedown threats from its belligerent neighbors, it needs an unfettered thermonuclear deterrent. the ndeal is designed precisely to prevent that. it is a ctbt in all but name. the devil is always in the details…but thank you for taking the time to respond to me.

  9. Chanakya,

    I think there is dissonance between your chosen pseudonym and what you espouse. Kautilya has a lot to say about how legal documents and treaties can be broken, when it is to one’s advantage.

    Legal documents and contracts are taken seriously by the United States? Really? Just ask the Pakistanis who had a nice contract to purchase F-16 planes. Forget international contracts, the big case against the Bush administration by its opponents was that they don’t even honour their own domestic laws. Or perhaps when Mr Bush decided, unilaterally, to pull out of the ABM treaty. [Note that I do not make value judgements here, rather, state objective facts]

    The greater the power, the greater the impunity with which it can treat legal documents. I can understand why small, weak powers need to rely on the letter of international law to protect them from being bullied. Great powers rely on power. If the balance of power is in your favour, legalities don’t matter much. If it is against you, don’t bet on legalities to save you. The upshot, therefore, is focus on maximising your power, and on securing a balance of power in your favour. It’s there, actually, in the Arthashastra.

  10. udayan, it’s obvious that you are, and that you obviously haven’t taken the time to educate yourself on the topic beyond the official party talk points on the deal. mms may have bought off the necessary votes to ram rod the deal through (thank you somnath, jai ho…), but that doesn’t mean the argument was lost. in fact, there was never a real debate. just the bjp voicing specific concerns with the congress branding them as opportunistic and the cpi voicing concerns, and prakash karat being branded as unpatriotic. the media happily picked up those brainless taglines without actually examining the merits properly. it was one big ad campaign for the masses. congratulations, you’ve just made one advertising agency very happy by adopting the desired message

    also, the deal is not going the way it is supposed to go because ENR technology was advertised to be part of the deal, as were unfettered fuel supplies and reprocessing rights. but it was all a mirage…india will get none of those

    So the citizenry has no right to question the PM’s decision? newsflash udayan, this is a democracy and the PM is a public servant not a raja or shahanshah. there is a serious absence of logic in the PM’s position if he ramrods a deal through saying nuclear is the future while cutting the atomic energy budget by 40%–not a trifling sum. it is the right of every citizen to demand an explanation for this egregious action

    As for the LWRs:

    http://www.hindu.com/2009/07/21/stories/2009072157790100.htm

    “Dr. Singh informed Ms. Clinton of India’s approval of two sites for setting up U.S.-made nuclear power stations.”

    so seriously dude, not trying to be mean here, but your comments make you sound like some of those ignorant rediff posters who simply toe party lines and thump their chests without any specific detailed arguments. please do some reading real reading on the topic…these vacuous hyperboles don’t disguise the fact that you have failed to answer any of my questions–all of which are relevant to the supposed benefits of the ndeal

  11. Nitin,

    Actually, i’ve read my arthashastra, and kautilya always recommends being careful when entering into an alliance with the powerful. It’s right there in the Arthashastra too.

    yes, the us takes contracts pertaining to its interests very seriously. which means while certain things on its end may or may not be fulfilled, it will damn well expect the other party to fulfill its obligations. as you noted, it has the power to compel obedience and observance of every last letter of the law. where praytell is india’s power in this equation?

    yes, you are right, power balances are ultimately what matter. guess what? when country A has something that country B wants, and has legally shackled country B into giving up certain rights and obligated it to purchase lwr’s that need even more nuclear fuel that can only be provided by an oligopoly controlled by the nsg, guess who has all the power…so india need not kid herself into more wishful thinking. it needs strategic thinking

  12. @chanakya

    As I said, your certitude impresses me. Especially your declaration that “India is going to get none of these”. With that kind of certitude it is hard for you to accept that they just agreed to discuss the
    terms of transfer of ENR.

    Just as you are so sure of my own ignorance. Since you don’t know me at all, how can you be so sure that I’m ignorant? Only because I disagree with you?
    It’s called denial, dude. You are in the middle of it.

  13. Nitin, I am with you that G-8 statements are irrelevant as is the question of whether the US will or will not sell us the stuff, since India has more options now than before. However, there is a very strong lobby in the USA (as you have mentioned in your own articles many times) that will work hard against seeling such tech to India and they cannot be wished away very easily. I am not so sure that one public statement of this nature would imply a reversal of decades of policy. That is my only point.

    Udayan, What is this pundit stuff you speak of? I do not understand what you are saying in your post.

  14. Udayan, are you telling me that you know for certain that the Non-proliferationists have capitulated and allowed the reversal of decades of arms control policies that were meant to corner India? Because that is what I am talking about. However, I am also of the view that they do not matter any more as far as India is concerned, these non-prol advocates are only hurting their own country’s economic interests, not India’s.

  15. Udayan,
    The previous seceratary of State Condoleeza Rice had relegated all of these non-proliferationists to the doghouse, and Obama has resurrected them all, which is what I meant by reversal of policy from the previous admin. Which part of this is incorrect according to you?

  16. udayan,

    there you go again dude, platitudes to defend your certitudes. the nsg has clearly maintained a line stating that ENR technology will only go to states that sign the NPT. Unless you are stealth advocating that india do that, how do you think it will get ENR technology. unfortunately, it appears that you are unfamiliar with how states work. please reference the following by stephen walt–a harvard professor of IR:
    http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/07/17/the_ten_commandments_for_ambitious_policy_wonks

    i think it might spare you continued embarrassment. please pay particular attention to #3…but please do continue writing lovely bromides that have nothing to do with anything. “history will not forgive us” “we have got a clean waiver” “singh is kinng” “jai ho”

  17. Chanakya, the permission to reprocess imported fuel is what is being sought —
    Russia and France have granted them to India, USA has not. So what exactly are you all worked up about? India has been enriching its own fuel for decades and has its own indigenous enrichment techniques.

  18. Alagu,

    http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Sale-of-enrichment-tech-not-part-of-Npact-with-India-France/363033/

    “The 45-nation cartel has granted New Delhi the right to reprocess nuclear fuel contingent upon it fulfilling the IAEA safeguards conditions, he noted. ”

    the IAEA safeguards also include an additional protocol that has not yet been completed…again the devil is in the details, and if india’s decides not to comply to something unreasonable in the additional protocol, there go the reprocessing assurances–which are not explicitly enshrined in the 123 and the hyde act–us documents which it will use as the basis to armtwist compliance by other nsg nations. accordingly, if india does something not desired by the west, say, not vote against iran, you don’t think the french coud and would revoke said right? you don’t think the nsg will then change the rules forcing russia to comply? you don’t think the threat to cutoff supply could be waived? even if it doesn’t, you don’t think even the threat of that possibility wouldn’t curtail indian fp options like it already has? as our resident chanakya expert remarked, it is the power equation that ultimately matters…not some pie in the sky guarantee that can easily be revoked.

    Finally, ENR technologies were explicitly described as an additional reason for the deal being a winner…clearly that was not the case.

  19. Chanakya, “if india does something not desired by the west, say, not vote against iran, you don’t think the french coud and would revoke said right? you don’t think the nsg will then change the rules forcing russia to comply?”

    The real Chanakya would tell you that France and Russia would not hurt their own business interests with India to satisfy a cartel like the NSG — rules of the cartel are not binding on members of the cartel, mind you. (You seem to believe that all rules are binding on every member of every organization)

    The NSG rules today are what will apply when we deal with countries bilaterally, not some rules in the future, and even then, no country will undercut its economic interests to adhere to non-binding clauses in various groupings like G-8 and NSG.

  20. Chanakya, Also, your use of the broad brush of “the west” to make arbitrary claims is bogus. “The west” is not some monolithic entity. Individual countries in the west look out for their own interests in the end, not gang up with certain people because of brotherly kinship just to make life difficult for India.

  21. G8 statement is NO BIG DEAL. There was no “formal agreement” and it is not legally binding anyways. I can’t understand why India gives too much importance to it. Nobody takes G8 meetings seriously. They are next to only UN in their INEFFICIENCY and not getting ANYTHING DONE. As Alagu said the French and Russians would be more than happy to provide ENR (the question is whether we need it). The “nuclear energy market” in India is too big for them to do OTHERWISE.

    That said, I don’t want India to sign something today and blatantly violate it sometime later. I plainly don’t understand why we go to extremes – on the one hand we tend to be too moralistic and preachy but on the other hand we want to violate international law? This is not how foreign policy should be. If we don’t want to tick by the letter of the agreement why sign the agreement in the FIRST place? Doing otherwise is not only “ILLEGAL” but also counterproductive in the long run. India could have easily signed the NPT and still secretly developed nukes. But India CHOSE NOT TO DO SO. And I’m happy that India did that. India today would be equated with Iran and NoKo.

    I can’t find a SINGLE INSTANCE of US violating ANY INTERNATIONAL PACT that it has signed. Of course this doesn’t mean that the US doesn’t sign or ratify on some things but forces others to do the same (e.g. CTBT). Neither does it mean that these treaties are “fair”. Of course they are not but still the other countries sign on the dotted line. Now the ability to do THESE THINGS is the HALLMARK of a SUPERPOWER. Remember

    “Power is the capacity to force someone to do things that they would normally not do”.

  22. Arvind, What is this international pact that India will have to violate down the line?
    There are three separate 123 agreements (Russia, France, USA), the NSG agreement, and the IAEA additional protocol. I do not see India having any intention to violate any agreement down the line after it is signed. NSG has already granted permission to India to trade with NSG countries. Members of the cartel are no longer restricted in nuclear civilian trade with India…how do you think this can be reversed?

  23. Arvind, USA weakened the Non-Proliferation treaty when it stood by and winked at Chinese proliferation to Pakistan, and Pakistan’s proliferation to Libya and other countries. So it is bogus to claim that no country has violated any treaty, because what the USA did is not acknowledge inconvenient facts that will imply that the NPT is being violated. By not acknowledging violations, the claim made was “We are unaware of any violations and therefore we do not have to acknowledge that the NPT signatories have violated the clauses they signed”. US Pres. Bill Clinton winked at chinese proliferation of ring magnets to Pakistan…both China and the USA are guilty of violating the clauses of the NPT in many ways. These countries blame India for destroying the NPT, but it is the USA and China that have destroyed the NPT by their own actions in the past.

  24. Alagu,

    Please do some research. The united states is the sole superpower in the world, and is the leader of the west. If you don’t think that western european countries coordinate their policies with the United states unofficially (or in the case of britain, officially), I’m afraid you are sorely mistaken. Do they have disagreements? yes of course, but that does not mean the US doesn’t have coercive power when the chips are down or that the OECD follow the US line most of the time. It is ultimately the guarantor of european security.

    Strategic thinkers are supposed to consider all eventualities, and not wish themselves into a paradise of best case scenarios. If india ever decides to test, which it needs to in order to have a real deterrent against its belligerent neighbors, you can kiss your french and russian reprocessing rights good bye because of the clout of the us-led NSG–they are both members.

    All these countries ultimately recognize that the us is the guarantor of European security and coordinate their policies with it. That is why france condemned the pokhran tests (even though it was testing to its heart’s content until ’96) and participated in sanctions.

    The NSG waiver can absolutely be reversed due to any “violation of the waiver stipulations and the safeguards/additional protocol agreeement”. please don’t kid yourself. be prudent before you adopt positions and policies and consider all eventualities–rather than merely the best case scenarios.

  25. “Arvind, What is this international pact that India will have to violate down the line?”

    I’m not saying India WILL have to violate any pact. I was jus responding to the point made by someone (Nitin I guez) that we will sign some agreement today and make it invalid some years from now because we have “power”. This is very short term thinking IMO. My point was basically to say while we should not get too moralistic in foreign policy, at the same time we should be careful in signing the international agreements and treaties. Combining right doses of “realism” with “morality” in foreign policy is one of the HALLMARKS of a successful superpower.

    And with regards to Non Proliferation Treaty, unless u want to equate inaction of the US to active abetting (which I don’t think was the case with nukes to Pak though we’ll never know), you can’t really make the case that the US violated the NPT. “Winking” is not the same as “violation”, is it?

  26. “The united states is the sole superpower in the world, and is the leader of the west. ”

    First point is true. Second is not. BTW does the “West” also include Russia? In any case, there are many disagreements. Iraq war was one of them when France, Germany and Russia OPENLY OPPOSED US! Climate change is another thing. CTBT is the third where US differs. US is predominantly religious (some are “hardcore” like the evangelicals in the South) while Europe is mostly atheistic. These difference are only gonna increase as Europe with EU is gonna gain more leverage and power. The French especially are very “independent”. Did u know they weren’t even an active NATO member for a long time? Recently they’ve joined again. o we should stop thinking in terms of “West” and jus consider the countries.

    With the collapse of Soviet Union and the waning of US power, we are now in a post-American world. Yes, still, US is the world’s lone superpower. But the power structure is pyramidal. At the top is US. At the second tier are 7 countries – UK, France, Germany, Brazil, Russia, India and China. True US can shape policies but if one of these 7 countries are really affected by it and want to disrupt it, THEY CAN DO SO. So in a sense, the US cannot do much without “taking these countries along”. One should read Leslie Gelb’s “Power Rules” and Fareed Zakaria’s “Post American World”. Both are classics and IMO should be mandatory reading for high school students LOL.

  27. @Chanakya

    “That is why france condemned the pokhran tests (even though it was testing to its heart’s content until ‘96) and participated in sanctions.”

    You are factually incorrect. They may or may not have condemned (who cares??) but there were NO FRENCH SANCTIONS! That’d have crippled us in Kargil war considering we were using Mirages.

  28. Arvind, i’m afraid you are wrong:
    http://www.tribuneindia.com/2003/20030107/main4.htm
    they may not have been blanket sanctions (fortunately for india’s mirages), but french sanctions were indeed announced. these may have been token.
    that does not change the fact that the french deployed in afghanistan and are coordinating their Iran policy with the us, or for that matter, that the french sanctions regime against north korea and iran were also coordinated with the us. indeed, us policy had been preventing france from making defence sales to china… more than anything else, it does not mean that the french will not abide by the nsg’s stipulations…let’s not be naive here.

    I have read both zakaria and gelb, but perhaps you should also read some parag khanna and robert kagan. US power may not be as preponderant as it once was, but it is still the world’s largest economy and the world’s dominant military power and technology leader. let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that this decline automatically means india is an equal power that can freely occupy the south asian strategic space…

    Yes, I did know that the french were not active members until recently, but that was due to De Gaulle’s insistence of french autonomy within the NATO command structure–that’s why he pulled out. It does not change the fact that it was ultimately US security guarantees that protected western europe (including the perennially anglo-saxon hating french).

    the west does not include russia, but russia is also a member of the nsg and must abide by its regulations. btw, how’s that vikramaditya delivery going? guaranteed and on time, right? no renegotiation whatsoever…the point is, states will act according to their interests at a given time…don’t take mere token assurances to mean guarantees in every and all circumstances

  29. @chanakya

    “let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that this decline automatically means india is an equal power that can freely occupy the south asian strategic space…”

    That aint gonna happen tomorrow. But that should be a strategic objective atleast in the medium term if not short term. Heck, I think power projection at least in the Indian Ocean from Gulf of Aden to Malacca Straits should be the long term objective.

    “the point is, states will act according to their interests at a given time…don’t take mere token assurances to mean guarantees in every and all circumstances”

    True. Nobody is talking about guarantees. You are the one who is still talking about the “West”. What I’m saying is don’t unnecessarily try to group the countries when each country acts in the best NATIONAL interest. And I thought we were talking not about NSG but G-8. My point is too much should not be attached to whatever was “said” during these meeting.

    And with the French not selling to Chinese, you think it is only due to US pressure? Not due to their fear that their technology will soon be copied and reverse engineered by the Chinese? French are mainly concerned by money and not much about anything else (atleast when it comes to defence sales).

    Anyways with PM being Chief Guest on Bastille Day at Paris, I think Indo French relations are gonna improve much more. Viva Le France!! Let’s drink to that.

    “btw, how’s that vikramaditya delivery going? guaranteed and on time, right? no renegotiation whatsoever”

    Yeah? How’s that Kaveri engine for Tejas coming along? It has been more than 20 years in the making and how many LCA have we inducted? 20? The point is you try to make what u can. The others u buy or go into TOT or joint venture depending on what the competition is willing to offer. Trying to make everything by yourself right now from scratch is stupid.

    A statement from G8 (that is not worth the paper it is written on) doesn’t merit so much discussion. I’m done here.

  30. @chanakya

    “that does not change the fact that the french deployed in afghanistan and are coordinating their Iran policy with the us, or for that matter, that the french sanctions regime against north korea and iran were also coordinated with the us”

    What has all this got to do with INDIA? Is any of this against Indian national interests? If not why should we care? Jus because someone agrees with someone else on some things doesn’t mean he will agree ALWAYS. India is NO IRAN, AFG OR NOKO.

  31. FYI, Aravind, when you go back to your high school class in the fall, you might want to write a five paragraph essay on the following:

    “I can’t find a SINGLE INSTANCE of US violating ANY INTERNATIONAL PACT that it has signed. ”

    http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/rssarticleshow/msid-3210737,flstry-1.cms

    “The first major issue relates to the possibility of the US terminating civilian nuclear cooperation with India for any reason in the future. India already had such an experience, when the US suspended nuclear fuel supplies to the Tarapur Atomic Power Station in 1983, reneging upon a 30 year contract signed in 1963.”

    LOL, tarapur was in the news all the time throughout 2008…good job. I’m sure you looked high and low for your examples in your quest to be factually correct…i guess your journey continues…

  32. Aravind

    Actually, there was a longstanding US block on EU sales to china–let’s not forget that

    As for your point on france: It also doesn’t mean that you can automatically discount cooperation against india with respect to any cutoff of nuclear fuel supply. So what these countries do and how they coordinate is very relevant to India, which has consistently been at the receiving end of Nonproliferation efforts. Just because there’s backslapping today doesn’t mean there won’t be goal post shifting or reneging tomorrow. that’s what you have to plan for.

    As for defense sales, the answer is to invest in R&D. India spends a pittance on it, that’s the reason why Tejas and many other projects are in the dumps. India has to start spending like a great power if it wants to be one. China spends twice as much officially and five times as much unofficially and now produces its own fighter planes (it has five new projects in the pipeline). India cannot be dependent on foreign arm sales for everything. It must start investing in its own security by spending like it is serious about it. cooperation with the us is great and will be critical to keeping the peace in asia, but that does not mean we have to throw prudence to the wind.

    Finally, ENR was one of the key sellpoints for the deal. Let us not attempt to cast it aside to avoid public discomfort over goal posts being shifted.

  33. “India already had such an experience, when the US suspended nuclear fuel supplies to the Tarapur Atomic Power Station in 1983, reneging upon a 30 year contract signed in 1963.”

    Not so fast!! I’m pretty sure the contract had “escape clauses” which were interpreted by different countries differently. I’m pretty sure US can use one of them for justification of opting out as I am pretty sure India can justify not violating any of the clauses. Ultimately it then boils down to interpretation. But then again if anyone thinks that scenario is similar to the scenario today he/she is naive!!

    “India spends a pittance on it, that’s the reason why Tejas and many other projects are in the dumps. India has to start spending like a great power if it wants to be one.”

    Jus throwing more money aint gonna solve when it’s technology that is the main problem. I’d any day prefer some of the stuff that India has over some of what China has. So if those are the kinds of products, thanks but no thanks. I’m fine with having a good mix of foreign and indigenous arms, provided we have the best while considering several parameters. We can hedge among multiple suppliers and that should take care of many issues. I’m also pretty sure our Generals and Admirals wouldn’t like to sticking to jus local (but inferior) stuff either. Ultimately they should have a large say for they are the ones who are gonna be using it.

    BTW have u wondered why many of the stuff that govt does in India seems to fail – Air India, Postal and Telegraph, PWD, ration shops etc. etc. In fact there are very few successes like ISRO, SBI(??), ONGC. And yet u want more arms to be made by the govt aka DRDO and want the armed forces to take them even if they are inferior? Thanks but no thanks.Our armed forces deserve the best.

    If someone thinks only the seller has leverage in case of defence deals he is mistaken. The buyer can have leverage as well and India must use THAT leverage.

  34. Arvind,

    Actually, it’s pretty much established that the tarapur obligations were reneged upon plain and simple…but i’ll be waiting for those escape clauses if they do indeed exist 😉

    With all due politeness, aren’t you forgetting the IGMDP which was a huge success? Just because there are current problems with development doesn’t mean the process can’t be reformed and efficiency instituted. If other countries can develop first class materiel, why can’t india? DRDO must attract the best and the brightest. After all, security is the core function of the state, and here india is outsourcing it’s key weapons purchases. It’s not a small portion we are looking at either. If you want the indian military to have the best, the answer is to have a long term solution of reforming defense development and making the process more efficient.The answer isn’t for india to buy its way out but to develop its way out. But there is no strategy for that, just continued arms imports for continued dependency (india imports 80% of its arms–a fairly lopsided foreign-indigenous mix). if you are dependent on others for materiel, you are dependent on them for spare parts, which can be denied if whatever country (france, russia, etc) changes its mind if it wants to pressure india for whatever reason.

    the west wasn’t always at the cutting edge of military technology, but due to its investments in R&D it collectively became the military and technological superpower that it is today. India should do the same if it is serious about keeping the peace in asia/ior. Anyhow, as enjoyable as this discussion has been, i think we’re starting to go way off topic, since the focus here is reprocessing and the ndeal in general. as no one appears to be interested in answering why mms cut the ae budget by 40% in spite of touting nuclear as the panacea for india’s energy needs, i think i’ve taken up enough time on the comment section. later

  35. Nitin, in light of this piece of news (i do not know how to paste quotes in HTML):
    http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_us-may-get-to-check-indian-military-bases_1276191

    the assertions on which your defense of the nuke deal are based stand null and void.

    Your assertion that when it comes to powerful nations, the letter of the act matters less than the strength, strategic influence (insert other terms here…), of the nations at the table falls flat.
    Because india has none of those. And if it does, it has no intent to exercise any of those.

    For, if MMS and co can sell out india so completely by allowing intrusive inspections of our military bases to a country that has a long standing history of working with our enemies, it boggles the mind what extent they may have capitulated to in the nuke deal.

    I fear the worst.

  36. Chanakya: “Please do some research. The united states is the sole superpower in the world, and is the leader of the west. If you don’t think that western european countries coordinate their policies with the United states unofficially (or in the case of britain, officially), I’m afraid you are sorely mistaken.”

    First, Get off this goddamned stupid “the west” nomenclature — it is inaccurate and rubbishes whatever point you may have.

    Which groupings are you referring to among western countries? I do not need to do reseach to know that there are a lot of common shared interests among the “first world” west, but that does not mean they are aligned on all issues. It is upto India to create conflicts of interest among them via our actions. Just dropping a load in one’s pants and hiding under the table for fear of the sky falling is not going to be an effective strategy.

    Anyway, you have your so called “Chanakyan” (NOT!) views, and I have mine…and it can stay that way. I feel no need to change your views.

  37. Fine, if we accept that the Indian government is all incompetent, corrupt and full of traitors, then the Russian and French govts. are not, right? If the French govt. undercut its business interests with India to make the USA happy, would it serve their interests? No. Would Russia try to push India towards the USA (on the US’s bidding) by undercutting its dealings with India? No.

    Has India signed up with the USA to purchase nuclear tech so far? No. Has any document been signed that does more than to allow US defense items to compete with other defense suppliers? Even if India has signed to such a document, will that document be relevant if none of the equipment brought is actually stationary, and requiring on-site-in-military-bases inspections.

    The “inspections” are not spot checks where some fellow from USA shows up at 7 AM demanding to see all the US equipment immediately. There will be protocols on the kind of advance notice the USA would provide and how India will arrange the logistics for the USA, and that too only when the USA feels its equipment is being used against its larger interests. India will obviously have to insist on being able to maintain all of the equipment on its own for obvious reasons.

  38. “With all due politeness, aren’t you forgetting the IGMDP which was a huge success? ”

    Sure, it was. Also remember that Brahmos was a joint venture.

    “the west wasn’t always at the cutting edge of military technology, but due to its investments in R&D it collectively became the military and technological superpower that it is today. India should do the same if it is serious about keeping the peace in asia/ior.”

    I’d COMPLETELY AGREE WITH THAT. Glad we have finally something agree to on although I think most of our views are similar and we were jus talking past each other LOL. Minor tidbit. I’d jus say US instead of “the West”. Seriously, there are only very few countries in the world that are almost self sufficient when it comes to their defence:

    1. US
    2, Russia
    3. China
    4. France (??)

    To be in this club and not have “flying coffins” like Russia or “reverse engineered junk” like China, India has to have a massive defence industry mostly consisting of PRIVATE COMPANIES. DRDO can design stuff and govt can even manufacture some things. But there should also be a lot of PPP. Apart from this, defence is a pretty cutthroat business so I’d prefer India and Indian companies also exporting some stuff to relieve some of the taxpayer’s burden.

    It has become fashionable to call the GOI corrupt and incompetent. But I’d like to mention that all the things I mentioned above are happening. Slowly but surely. I think India will finally get there. But it’s gonna be a long and probably a bumpy ride. I’m also glad that current Def Min is an honest and incorruptible person.

  39. Nitin,

    What is your opinion on End – User Monitorinig agreement of the GoI with the US?

  40. just can’t take a day off, can i, guys? 😉

    alright, alagu,

    no, the nomenclature is not inaccurate. yes, we have to have room for nuance, as we saw in cases like iraq (but you must remember, that ended up being deeply unpopular even in the US); however, that does not take away from the fact that west does collaboratively operate–please read your huntington, beta. you are just kidding yourself if you think otherwise. i think the cases provided are suitable enough to make that point. it will also be some time, if ever, till the eu makes itself a full fledged strategic counterpart to the us, which naturally will not want to have an internal rival for leadership within the west and on the world’s stage. as for business interests, one of the great things about cooperation is that you can often have your cake and eat it too, which is ostensibly what is going on with the parties mentioned above.

    As for your points, india is not being granted access to us ntech anyway, so your point is moot.your other points were indirectly tended to by sudhir, so i’ll just leave it at that.

    With respect to inspections, “please do some research”. As countries ranging from iraq to n korea can attest to, the “IAEA” inspections will be highly intrusive and cover a range of activities–don’t kid yourself. the p-5, and really, the 3 most important members of said group especially, are only subject to token inspections and can reclassify facilities from civ to mil on a whim. india cannot–even in the event of wartime according to the agreement it signed. and you don’t even have to take my word for it. there’s plenty of literature on the topic, by the scholars i noted above. one mustn’t live in a fool’s paradise…and fyi, chanakya’s core mantra (and the mantra of any true realist is prudence). tragically, it seems you’ve thrown yours out the window…

  41. Arvind, I agree, glad we see eye to eye on something if not most things.

    Also, brahmos may have been a joint venture, but agni, prithvi and the others were not. let’s give kalam his due. also, eisenhower warned of the perils of the “military industrial complex”. so while private-public ventures can often be helpful, india, whose gov itself doesn’t have the best track record, should be prudent on this point as well to avoid the rise of its own blackwaters…

    I’ll reserve judgment on A.K. Antony for now…i will say that his push on arunachal is a step in the right direction. good chatting with you. later

  42. chankya writes “no, the nomenclature is not inaccurate…”

    Yeah, sure, whatever, pal. Clearly, your “research” is wanting in a lot of directions.

  43. “and fyi, chanakya’s core mantra (and the mantra of any true realist is prudence). ”

    That is just worthless, ill-studied nonsense. Chankaya’s bottomline was realpolitik, which means doing what needs to be done based on what is achievable at any given point in time. Realism is focussed and result-oriented.

    Prudence is ill-defined and a relative term — what seems prudent to you need not be prudent to me. Prudence does not work backwards from the desired outcome — it is just a judgement on someone else’s judgement.

    People like you give Chanakya a bad name.

  44. @alagu

    Dude forgive me for painting you in the same brush as ‘chanakya’. Was off yesterday and hence couldn’t reply earlier. My bad.

    Agree that there are anti-deal and anti-India elements in the US system. Just like there are anti-deal and anti-US elements in our system. As you say, their dogma is self-defeating.

    The good news is that such elements are on the retreat or incapacitated. We need to strengthen the dudes who oppose them.

  45. alagu, umm, dismiss it all you want, but “the west” is a real concept in IR, and i actually cited a respected academic–samuel huntington–in contrast to your sourceless dismissal…good job.

    do you even understand what realpolitik is? prudence is at the heart of it. it means you make prudent decisions based on calculations of balances of power. it means you adopt caution when dealing with powerful allies — something kautilya directly discusses. any realist worth his salt understands the importance of it. i’m sorry dude, but your responses are just bitter and hateful name calling in an attempt to disguise your lack of understanding on any of this subject matter let alone the arthashastra. as such, before you decide to respond to me again, “please do some research”…that goes double for udayan

  46. “chanakya”, I wrote earlier that the west is not monolithic, and each country in “the west” is driven by its own selfish interests. This is both a threat and an oppurtunity for every country.

    You are pretending that I claimed that there was no such thing as “the west”. Never contested the fact that such a notion of “the west” existed. Clever verbal and semantic juggling and redefining well known terms only makes things clear as mud.

  47. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/prudence

    for the wordsmiths out there, here is a clarification for the meaning of prudence–its core definition is “caution”….

    fyi, since nuance apparently is lost among many of the commentators here, it is possible to be pro-us and anti-deal. the us is a great country and a force for good, but ultimately, it is a state that, like any other (except probably india) will seek to safeguard its interests in whatever fashion it deems appropriate: i.e. military aid to pakistan. does udayan’s probable opposition to us military aid to pak make him anti-us? no. in the same vein, it is possible for people to be pro-us and anti-deal…grow up guys…

  48. “chanakya”, Chanakya’s choices of allies and enemies were based on the nature of each enemy and with a specific, central goal of safeguarding and furthering the interests of the “public”, i.e., the kingdom in his time. There are people other than you who have read his works. Bet that surprised you.

  49. yes alagu, and ignoring obvious coordination within the west on sanctions and foreign policy in general really helps your case too. the EU has a common foreign and security policy in development for a reason–coordination within the EU. If you don’t think the guarantor of the EU’s security has any influence on broad matters of its foreign policy, then you are indeed kidding yourself.

  50. Yes, yes, I am reminded of the very valuable advice I give anyone, and they are all thankful to me for it. “Be careful” I say, and if I think the situation is extra perilous, I tell them, “Be careful, prudently and cautiously”, and the look of awe on their faces makes my day. Yes, I think I am beginning to see your interpretation of the classics.

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