Opposing the Indian Nuclear Deal, not India.

An earlier FAS blog entry analyzed, and criticized, proposed legislation that grants the Bush Administration pre-approval of the details of an eventual nuclear trade deal with India. FAS has also organized a petition campaign to encourage members of Congress to vote against the legislation. (And blog readers are encouraged to sign the petition.) The Times of India picked up on the petition. The Times piece was, in my view, pretty good and fair. They did not agree entirely with the FAS position but I think the article did a good job of representing the FAS position.

Nevertheless, with the Times article, many in India learned of FAS involvement in the issue, resulting in a lot of emails to FAS and almost all of the letters were negative, specifically saying that the FAS position is anti-Indian. I can imagine that if all anyone knew about FAS was its position on the Indian nuclear deal, it might somehow appear that we have some gripe against India. And for those people, I simply ask that they view all of the work of the Federation. We have worked hard against what we believe is an oversized U.S. arsenal. We worked against the RNEP, or nuclear bunker buster. We are working now against the U.S. Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, or GNEP, that will restart plutonium reprocessing in the United States after a three decade hiatus. We have publicized the inflation of the Chinese threat and the growing importance of tactical nuclear weapons in military planning. (Once we figure out what the Reliable Replacement Warhead Program actually is, we might work against that, too, but we don’t think anyone is absolutely certain what the program is yet.)

The point is that FAS works to reduce the number and salience of U.S. nuclear weapons. We want to reduce the world’s nuclear weapons and fully realize that most of those are in the United States and Russia. We also oppose the Indian deal but not because we are anti-Indian but because we are anti-proliferation.

One of the tragedies of the Cold War is that a confrontation between the United States and Russia sucked in other “balancing” powers like China, India, and Pakistan. Due to circumstances that had little to do with India and the United States directly, the world’s two largest democracies ended up, certainly not enemies, but suspicious of one another looking across that divide. FAS, and we suspect an overwhelming majority of Americans, strongly support closer ties with India. India has some of the best scientists in the world and there are a hundred different ways that the United States and India could work together. Even in the area of energy research, programs in clean coal, carbon dioxide sequestration, wind and solar power, improved efficiency in buildings, transportation, and electricity transmission, could benefit from close U.S.-Indian collaboration. But not nuclear power, not with an agreement that critically undermines the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

4 thoughts on “Opposing the Indian Nuclear Deal, not India.

  1. If the FAS did not oppose US-China nuclear trade that is happening without a Chinese stoppage of weapon production or fis-mat cutoff or IAEA safeguards – then opposition to the India deal clearly means that FAS is anti-India and not anti-proliferation.

    If China can keep making bombs and get reactors without IAEA safeguards, then so should India.

  2. Most Indians share the aims of nuclear non proliferation, and would like a world free of Nuclear Weapons. But 90 percent also feel this should not come at the cost of India’s security. All India seeks is an option of maintaining a minimum nuclear deterrent as an insurance given that a significant portion of Chinese nuclear tipped missiles (both from China and Pakistan) point to India. At the very minimum organizations like FAS should first succeed in reducing American arsenal, its dual standards in dealing with India and China. If they do that they will surely be taken more seriously by us Indians. You have to realize one simple fact, non proliferation cannot be treated as a tunnel vision in itself. If countries feel threatened by Nukes they will develop Nukes themselves. It is not only futile preaching them not to have Nukes, it is irresponsible to interfere with someone trying to address their legitimate security needs. Imagine just the presence of Soviet Nukes in cuba, was enough for US to risk a nuclear war. And here you ask us not to even develop Nukes when we are faced by nukes!!! There’s got to be some limits to hypocrisy. And I am not sure how much noise FAS made when China was proliferating the weapons to Pakistan. American behaviour in pushing the whole thing under the carpet because they needed Pakistan’s help to fight Soviets in Afghanistan is shameful to say the least. NPT treaty does nothing to address the needs to states that feel threatened. Accomodating India’s security concerns will stregthen NPT not weaken it, as it would do away with some shameful hypocrisy existing today. It may not be out of place to mention that all India had asked was a credible timetable from the Nuclear Weapon states to disarm to sign the NPT. Two decades after cold war, we are yet to see any forward movement in that. And the irony is that the debate in USA focusses on how to CAP India’s Weapons programme, when most Indians feel that India has been far more responsible than America regarding Nuclear arsenal buid up and proliferation. We developed the bomb when we had no other choice. Non proliferation hawks ougth to learn to listen better before they try to preach. Only then you will really succeed.

  3. Put yourself in our shoes you have China which annexed Tibet and claims historical claim of one whole state in the union,you have Pakistan whose basic national identity is the anti thesis of India which is both a beneficiary and practitioner of nuclear proliferation par excellence.

    We do not have a nuclear umbrella like other posterboys of the NPT Germany, Japan etc and were never offered one in 1964 (when China went nuclear) so therefore were forced to nuclearize.

    And btw the current reduction of US and Russian stockpiles have a lot to do with cost savings and nothing to do with disarmament.

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