Manmohan Singh excites
Bush, but Cheney is not interested
India Should be Forced
to Open Up its Nuclear Installations
Special to the South Asia Tribune
July 28: Civilian nuclear cooperation between US and India is
touted to be greatest achievement of the visit of Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh during his US visit early this month. Spin doctors
have gone to town with the claim that the Indian delegation has
struck a great deal with the US.
Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran claimed immediately after the release
of the Singh-Bush joint statement that it would help India get
"the whole range of civilian nuclear energy cooperation open
to us, including what many people have been talking about –
fuel for the Tarapur Atomic Power Station near Mumbai.”
Seen dispassionately, he pointed out, this was clearly a "major
breakthrough for India."
of all hullabaloo and hype, the factual position of the outcome
of the visit is not as dramatic. President George Bush did promise
India full cooperation in developing its civilian nuclear power
program in exchange for New Delhi's commitment to adhere to international
regimes aimed at curbing arms proliferation, provided the Indians
move quickly to fulfill their obligations.
did assure Singh that “he will work to achieve full civil
nuclear energy cooperation with India as it realizes its goals
of promoting nuclear power and achieving energy security.”
The statement noted that the President would “seek from
Congress to adjust US laws and policies” and that the United
States would “work with friends and allies to adjust international
regimes to enable full civil nuclear energy cooperation and trade
with India, including but not limited to, expeditious considerations
of fuel supplies for safeguarded nuclear reactors at Tarapur.”
quid pro quo for such cooperation is clearly enunciated in the
document: Prime Minister Singh had agreed that India would be
ready to assume the “same responsibilities and practices
and acquire the same benefits and advantages as other leading
countries with advanced nuclear technology, such as the United
States.” According to Congressional sources it is Bush's
intention to seek Congressional approval to implement the agreement
on civil nuclear cooperation this year.
that mean that the mandarins of nuclear establishment of India
will come out from behind the thick veil of secretiveness and
mystery that shrouds its deals to practice a semblance of transparency
is unlikely, unless some fundamental changes take place in the
polity of the region and anarchic attitudes of the people at the
helm, that President Bush will continue to pursue his initiative
with Congress beyond a scheduled review of India’s steps
in the direction of “assuming same responsibilities and
practices” when he visits South Asia in 2006.
it is not going to be easy for the President to convince arms
control advocates who dominate the Congress. One of them, Democratic
Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts minces no words, “This
administration's rogue, shoot-from-the-hip move to launch nuclear
cooperation with India puts the interests of industry ahead of
our national security."
significantly, the idea of ending isolationism and opting for
international nuclear cooperation is unpalatable also to a powerful
coterie of fake scientists, unscrupulous business houses, and
other vested interests in India. These elements stand to lose
huge recurring incomes in the event of transparency and accountability
being forced on the establishment.
coterie has already started work on sabotaging any possibility
of ending isolationist policies. What is more worrying is the
fact that this coterie has at its beck and command some of the
most talented strategic affairs “pundits” and brilliant
ultrapatriotic lobbyists in the Ministry of External Affairs.
the goings on in the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) are beyond
the purview of the country’s judiciary, statutory auditing
agencies, and even the Parliament, let alone any international
safeguards. Any discussion of its affairs is considered to run
counter to “national security.”
funds are gobbled up year after year by this coterie just for
enriching its members with no tangible or intangible benefit to
a billion impoverished people who pay through their nose to foot
the bill. Over the years, these nuclear mullahs have achieved
such a sacred position that any criticism of their misdeeds is
equated to blasphemy.
to noted economist Swaminathan SA Aiyar, Indian nuclear scientists
who “successfully” achieved the feat of reinventing
the wheels of nuclear electricity and weaponry never had any commercial
orientations. “They got unlimited money with no commercial
control or penalties. The old Indian nuclear establishment is
surely unhappy since it remains stuck in the siege mentality that
began after Pokhran-I in 1974. It had to somehow keep out the
dreaded foreign inspectors who would expose the dirty truth that
India’s civilian and defense nuclear programs were one and
same. . . If international players are allowed access to the field,.the
Indian establishment, long hailed as a hero of self sufficiency,
will be exposed as uneconomic, obsolete, and more importantly,
on the safety aspect of India’s nuclear facilities, the
Indian judiciary’s role vis a vis the heist going on in
the name of nuclear self reliance has been far from responsible.
When the NGO Peoples’ Union for Civic Liberties (PUCL) petitioned
the court to direct DAE to furnish details of documented safety
deficiencies in nuclear facilities that threatened the environment,
their Lordships dismissed the public interest petition unceremoniously.
The court ruled that the right of the citizens to life cannot
be paramount and is subservient to the interests of the State!
A shameful verdict indeed for a country that takes pride in calling
itself the biggest democracy of the world!
of the Indian atomic establishment have openly expressed their
opposition to the suggestion by American analysts Selig Harrison
and Ashley Tellis that the best way for the US to integrate India
into the global non-proliferation order as a de facto nuclear
weapons state and allow it access to nuclear equipment and fuel
is to insist that all existing and future power reactors be safeguarded
by the IAEA.
so-far-unchallenged protectionist scientists insist that safeguards
should apply not for their current white elephants but only for
any “new facility that is created with outside equipment
or help.” Dr AN Prasad, former Director of the Bhabha Atomic
Research Center (BARC), has assumed the leadership of the pack
of the desk bound scientists who only invent tall claims. He told
Chennai-based newspaper The Hindu that the suggestion
of allowing safeguards "goes against the national interest."
to hide any longer the flopping of their futile attempts in reinventing
wheels with regard to various types of reactors after squandering
monstrous sums, Indian nuke mandarins have recently climbed on
to the Fast Breeder bandwagon.
have started peddling the merits of Fast Breeder Reactors (FBR),
which no country in the world has so far succeeded in developing
commercially, so that international vigil can be avoided and unlimited
budgets can continue. According to Prasad, "Since FBRs will
be the mainstay of India's nuclear power program for some time,
and since there is a lot to be established for the first time
and improved upon to achieve a level of maturity required to make
it a success, bringing in safeguards at this stage just because
they are civil nuclear facilities will seriously hamper our efforts
and cut into our freedom to pursue the development of this program."
his specious argument, he declared: "Only those who have
hands-on experience in operating such facilities and also dealing
with intrusive safeguards can fully appreciate this aspect"
and warned that the issue "should not be taken lightly."
It is of note that FBRs utilize plutonium and the distinction
between civil and military applications becomes still more undistinguishable
in their case.
concerns are shared by several serving and retired DAE officials
who feel India needs US support for its nuclear energy sector
only to supplement capacity and facilitate supply of uranium.
The DAE establishment insists the FBR must be the mainstay of
the Indian nuclear power program and that any light water reactors
that Russia, France or the US might supply will be an "additionality."
the context of the Prime Minister's visit to Washington, Prasad
said any change in US policy on the nuclear supplies front should
be "carefully assessed to see if there are any unacceptable
conditions." At no point should India "compromise the
basic inherent strength so relentlessly built over the years under
reasons obvious, isolationist scientists of DAE have traditionally
enjoyed the support of Indian Foreign Service (IFS) mandarins
and strategic affairs pundits funded by the Ministry of External
Affairs. No wonder, even before the ink in the joint statement
could dry, Foreign Secretary Saran declared on July 19 that India
had not “comprised its sovereignty” to get civilian
nuclear technology from the United States.
emphasized: This issue is "very important for everybody to
understand because there may be sometimes a perception that somehow
we have taken on responsibilities or obligations which are going
to be onerous. Not at all." He reiterated his point: "We
will not accept any kind of conditionality that others are not
willing to accept."
acknowledged that India was not averse to a few conditions. "But
we will not be discriminated against and this comes out loud and
clear," he said, adding, "We are doing exactly what
the United States of America and other countries are doing. Nothing
and accountability are the absolute preconditions to safeguard
public interests when handling the inherently dangerous technology.
There can be no place for secretiveness, and the mediocrity, nepotism,
and corruption that it breeds, in a nuclear establishment.
The Government of India should be forced to scrap the archaic
Atomic Energy Act, to open all the atomic facilities for credible
international inspection, to come clean on safety deficiencies,
purge the organizations of mediocre and fake scientist who had
gained entry and ascendance due to arrant nepotism, and ensure
proper audit for the vast sums invested as well as for responsible
environmental practices before any civilian nuclear cooperation
writer is a technocrat who specializes in the development of components
for nuclear and aerospace applications. He has mounted a campaign
against irresponsible practices and proliferation crimes.