It appears now that both signature of the NPT and the CTBT are uncompromising and qualified requirements for the membership of the NSG. Indian bureaucracy and media interpreted it incorrectly. Bush could not be naïve but if he believed that by letting India become member of the NSG and the US offering critical technologies in defense, nuclear and space fields, the US could persuade or coerce India to sign the NPT as a non-weapon state then he should be daydreaming. The fact is that Dr. Singh betted incorrectly on Mr. Obama as he is a non-proliferation hawk. Dr. Singh could also have misinterpreted Mr. Obama’s ‘universal disarmament’ dreams.
The fact is that India would never sign the NPT as non-nuclear state. No Union government in India can dare to think about rolling back India’s nuclear weapon program. If a government tries to do so then Indian military establishment along with bureaucracy, opposition and media would topple the government. This is true for even the future hypothetical government of Rahul Gandhi.
If Bush was trying to freeze India’s weapon program at a particular level after partial roll-back then he was a practical person. The fact is that India has genuineness in pursuing nuclear weapons because of its border conflict with China. India’s military capacity can also help contain China a bit. But to be precise India will never roll-back its nuclear weapon program. In order to address the reality of the new world, the NPT needs to be renegotiated with India, Pakistan and Israel getting accepted as secondary nuclear states: legitimate nuclear states but as defensive states with no first strike options and no use against the non-nuclear states.
But simultaneously the CTBT can’t be renegotiated and India would have to sign it unconditionally. The fact is that the US took precaution to add Hyde act with the agreement to assert that the adherence to the CTBT is must. India declared indefinite moratorium on nuclear tests. The act would result in stopping the fuel supply and put other sanctions on India should it try another nuclear test.
Indian media also reported that it became law for the US to supply nuclear fuel for the reactors. The fact is that fuel supplying companies would sign agreements with their Indian counterparts; private or public, and whosoever breaks the agreements would be punished as per the agreements. Moreover, Uranium dioxide is a strategic fuel and this always comes under the sovereign wish of the governments to agree to supply it. The sovereigns can always stop its supply because of a host of the reasons.
India media also reports that entitlement issues; compensation to deceased and affected people in future nuclear accidents, are the biggest blocking factor for the deal as Indian lawmakers are not passing the civil nuclear liability bill (CNBL) because the Americans are not ready to pay the appropriate amount. The fact is that all the sides need to compromise and Indian lawmakers should not be affected by the consciousness to that extent as ordinary people are. Nationalism can’t make up for the economic rationality. But it is the American non-proliferation concerns which are also heavily weighted in not getting the deal through.
During the debate of UPA-1 government seeking the majority in the Lower House of the Parliament because of the nuclear deal, lawmakers from the BJP and the Left raised the bogey of coal being underutilized as a fuel as electricity from nuclear power plants would be very costly. Now we hear about a big coal scam. This tells at the weakness of leadership of Dr. Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, if not that of Rahul Gandhi, explicitly.
If the US companies gain access to coal and the nuclear agreement becomes redundant then the American companies would operate coal power plants in India. Bush mixed American economic interests with its strategic interests. It appears that if properly played by the Obama administration then the US can meet both its objective but by accepting India’s nuclear weapon state status. The US Senate had passed the law and the ball is in India’s court. It appears more likely that the deal will be actualized and foreign companies will start building nuclear power plant soon.
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