Saturday, February 25, 2006

Negotiating the Nuclear Deal

Cynical Nerd published an analytical piece today contrasting the proposed Indo-United States nuclear deal with the earlier concluded Sino-United States nuclear deal. He argues that China drove a much harder bargain and achieved more favorable terms in its negotiations with the United States.

International relations are fluid and ever changing. There are no eternal verities in foreign affairs. The United States will not remain the sole undisputed super power for long given the sheer costs of its engagement in the Middle East. China is an emerging power on India's eastern horizon and had sponsored Pakistan's nuclear program in the 1980s with a far sighted objective to contain India. Indian decision makers will need to keep this in mind always.

India appears to have agreed to throw upon several of its nuclear reactors to the international inspection regime. Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States did not make similar concessions in the past. This is an unequal nuclear regime. India should not foreclose options in haste to close a nuclear deal. In a transient international environment, New Delhi will need to retain defence policy choices at a future date.

Brazil, Niger and South Africa have vast uranium reserves. India should consider innovative foreign policy tools to leverage those reserves for its national interest. It can also learn a lot from Chinese resolve to maintain national interest at all costs when negotiating an international treaty. It is time to reflect on options and steely national determination as Indian and American negotiators place the finishing touches on the nuclear deal in the next day or two.


Anonymous said...

Nice comparison with China. Let's see how all this works out eventually.

Anonymous said...

How would you respond to Nitin's take on the subject where he effectively disagrees with you? Keen to hear you on that.

Anonymous said...

well put, Jaffna.

The crux of the debate, IMO is of India not bargaining hard enuf - and if the deal ends up denting our security, or putting our reactors under "perpetual" safeguards, then its useless.

Mumbai Monsoon said...

At the risk of sounding extremely ignorant, I would appreciate it if anyone could enlighten me as to what the US interests are in this deal ?

Primary Red said...

We are only speculating here, but ...

The US realizes the inevitability of India's economic and geopolitical rise. Also, that India will not ever join the NPT as presently constituted.

There exist clear and present reasons for the US to partner with India, as well as Japan and Australia -- thus, protecting its Asian interests in face of China's unpredictable rise.

Also, given India's strengthening profile, particularly in the Indian Ocean, its participation in US-led non-proliferation and anti-terror initiatives is unavoidable.

Finally, there are tactical gains accruing from US nuclear industry's commercial engagement in India.

Absent a mutually acceptable resolution to the nuclear issue, such multi-dimensional partnership with India is hard to sustain.

In fact, IAEA itself has been recently of the view that this stalemate over India's status is counter-productive. It too has argued for an arrangement that permits civillian nuclear engagement with India without requiring the latter to give up its strategic capabilities.

Therefore, the deal. It's really not breaking any new ground -- except for eliminating legal hurdles holding back meaningful Indo-US strategic engagement.

Best regards

Primary Red said...

Thanks, Jaffna.

Hopefully the deal will be concluded this week.

Best regards.

Mumbai Monsoon said...

Thanks Primary Red. Much appreciated.


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