This was my response to a journalist’s question on what I thought of India’s position on Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
India neither has important interests nor the capability to be a useful player over Ukraine and Crimea. It is therefore sensible for New Delhi to let those with interests & capabilities play it out and deal with the outcomes. In any case, the Crimean case conclusively shows that the UN Security Council cannot be relied upon to uphold and enforce the UN Charter.
If Russia’s annexation of Crimea leads to a wider armed conflict then New Delhi will have to review its position.
For context, see this post on the Power & Principle Matrix. Taking gratuitous moral positions is not a good way to conduct foreign policy. Let’s not forget that the principle of territorial integrity that the United States and European Union are invoking over Crimea was overlooked with respect to Kosovo a few years ago. A different principle—mass atrocities against the population—was invoked then. Clearly, interests determine which principle is evoked in international relations.
According the the Nuclear Suppliers Group, its guidelines “are implemented by each NSG participant in accordance with its national laws and practices. Decisions on export applications are taken at the national level in accordance with national export licensing requirements. This is the prerogative and right of all States for all export decisions in any field of commercial activity and is also in line with the text of Article III.2 of the NPT…” To understand what this will mean in practice, just read this report from Bloomberg.
The waiver means that companies including France’s Areva SA, Russia’s Rosatom Corp. and Japan’s Toshiba Corp. will be able to export nuclear equipment to India. General Electric Co. and other U.S. companies will have to wait until Congress ratifies a 2006 trade pact backed by President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
General Electric, the world’s biggest maker of energy- generation equipment, said Aug. 25 that it may lose contracts in India to French, Russian and Japanese rivals if Congress doesn’t ratify a U.S.-India nuclear deal soon after the agreement wins approval from the Suppliers Group.
Rice said the U.S. has talked to India about the potential competitive disadvantage.
“I think they recognize and appreciate American leadership on this issue,” she said. “Because of that I think we’ll have ways to talk them about not disadvantaging American companies.”
Still, she said “the best thing would be to get it through Congress.” [Bloomberg]
It is understood that there is a tacit agreement that the first commercial deals will involve US companies…as long as the US Congress does not prevent it. The non-proliferation ayatollahs are up against the General Electrics on this one.
As for the Indian government, the real job begins once the party is over. Negotiating the nuclear deal with the United States, IAEA and the NSG was the easy part. The hard part involves liberalising the power industry. See energy security begins at home; Mr Advani sees the light and the uranium at home.
You say that you will support a nuclear deal that gives India the right to conduct a nuclear test. Perhaps it may even be able to negotiate such a deal one day.
But getting hung up about the “right to test” is a vestige of the strategic weakness of India’s past. Whether or not India has the right to test is not as relevant as India being able to get away with testing. That’s the story of Pokhran-I and Pokhran-II, by the way, and that will be the story of Pokhran-III if and when it does occur. You know this all too well.
So you should ensure that India will be able to get away with it. A strategic partnership with the United States—which you support—is a good way to ensure this.
If the nuclear deal falls apart, the BJP can’t be forgiven for its role in its unmaking. Your supporters will cite electoral compulsions as the reason for your stand. Perhaps this will help you win the coming election. What is really baffling is that you should think that it is necessary to let the deal fail in order to do so. Not least when the UPA government has no real achievement to speak of.