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The Drama of Unreality - Indo-US nuclear deal

By: Dr.Dipak Basu
Jul-16-2008
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(The author is a Professor in International Economics in Nagasaki University, Japan)
 


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The recent drama regarding the Indo-US nuclear treaty has demonstrated the unrealistic approaches of all parties concerned both the Congress and the so-called Left parties. The unrealistic expectation of The Congress party is that by signing the treaty India can somehow avoid the danger posed by the increasing price of crude oil and a possible energy shortage in future. Another unrealistic expectation is that USA wants to set up India as a bulwark against China and in future it would protect India against possible invasion from China. The Left parties are equally unrealistic to think that the Indian public has no recollection of the Chinese invasion of 1962 and it is possible to promote China in India, when China is doing everything to undermine India. By posing themselves as the champion of China, the left parties have gained no public sympathy, when the Congress party now discards them as rotten potato.

The Reality No 1:

The correct situation is that USA is not offering anything at all to India, but has forced every members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, about 44 countries of the World including Russia, not to supply anything at all to India regarding nuclear energy and related matters. Russia after India"s nuclear tests in 1974 was the only country for India as a source of materials for the nuclear energy including weapons and nuclear power plants. The only exceptions are USA, which has continued to supply fuels for the Tarapur nuclear plant for some years and China, who has supplied fuels for the Tarapur plant after the refusal of the US to do so. Russia so far has supplied India heavy water plants, reprocessing plants, Fast Breeder Reactors and two fresh nuclear power plants with the excuse that the contracts for these were signed between India and the Soviet Union, which Russia has to oblige.
However, other member countries particularly USA would not listen to that argument anymore and have practically forced Russia to stop supplying any new nuclear power plants or any new supplies for the India"s nuclear industries, unless India would allow inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). That would practically means that India has no choice but to abandon nuclear weapons programme and to accept full-scale safeguard from the IAEA so that in future India would not be able to produce any weapons grade nuclear materials either. Due to the objections raised by USA, Russia is disinterested to continue to supply nuclear materials or power plants to India anymore. The sudden shift of Russia"s position is the result of India"s decision to ignore Russia and to buy weapons systems, aircrafts, submarines from Israel, Britain and France and India"s growing interest to purchase aircrafts from USA.

Now USA is suggesting that if India would purchase nuclear power plants not from Russia but from the US, these restrictions can be relaxed in case India can separate out the civilians power plants from those which can be even remotely utilized by the Indian defense establishments. Both of these steps require massive financial investments. The purchase of nuclear power plants from USA would mean paying possibly ten times more than the cost of corresponding Russian nuclear power plants.

Thus, it is a kind of business negotiations with carrots and sticks attached to it. In practice, India has no other option but to accept the American offer, as Putin is not Yeltsin, who has rejected the American demand in 1993 not to supply any defense equipments to India particularly rocket engines which can be utilized to manufacture longer range missiles. India"s relationship with Russia is going downhill for the last few years as India is purchasing weapons at a much higher costs from France, Israel, Britain and will possibly buy from USA, not from Russia. As a result, Putin, who even after his resignation is still the centre of power in Russia, is reluctant to support India anymore.

The nuclear offer of the US is not a friendly gesture to India as the Indian media is trying to portray but a process of surrender for India regarding its nuclear energy and weapons programme. If India buys nuclear power plants from the US, these would be under full-scale inspection of the IAEA, thus India cannot divert anything from these plants for the defense services. India will not get the reprocessing plant, without which it cannot manufacture nuclear weapons. If India buys not from the Russians, they would be reluctant to help India in future regarding missiles, rockets, and nuclear fuel enrichment programme.

Thus, gradually India nuclear weapons programme will disappear. India"s efforts to develop missiles and rockets would be affected adversely too. Thus, India would be much less powerful than Pakistan in every aspect, as Pakistan has no such constraints. It would continue to receive both advanced nuclear weapons and missiles from China in future as it had received in the past with the full knowledge of the US since the days of President Reagan.

The Reality No 2:

The media both in India and in USA are giving the impression that USA is trying to make India as a bulwark against China. In fact, USA since 1972 has made China as a bulwark against the Soviet Union by supplying indirectly every type of weapons technology via Israel, France, Pakistan, and Turkey. USA also made China as the permanent member of the UN Security Council as a counterweight against the Soviet Union.

However, USA has no intention to use India in the same way because of some important reasons. There was no American investment in the Soviet Union in 1972, but the bulk of the foreign investments in China today are from the US and its allied countries. The Soviet Union did not have in 1972 massive amounts of US Dollars as its foreign exchange reserve, as China has today. There was virtually no trade between USA and the Soviet Union except during the late 1980s. However, China"s exports and as a result its economy depends on USA, UK, Australia, Japan and Western Europe.

If USA wants to destroy China as a power, it can do so without firing a single bullet, but by just not importing from China and asking its allies not to import from China. USA had followed that policy in 1934 against Japan, but it has no intension to follow it against China, because that would undermine investments of large number of American companies and their profit. China can also retaliate against USA just by selling its Dollar reserve, which would mean a massive devaluation of the US Dollar and destruction of the special status of the US Dollar as the international reserve currency - a fiat money by which USA can buy anything from the rest of the world just by printing its own currency. There is no need for the US to earn foreign exchange to pay for its imports or to pay for the American military bases all over the world in any other currency but in US Dollar.
This unique position would be diminished if China suddenly exchanges its Dollar holdings into Euro. That can destroy the American economy, as USA would not be able to use Dollar to get its imports. USA would be unable to pay for the expenses of the American military bases as well thus, reducing the US to a regional power, not a world power. Close bilateral relationship through trade and investments has made USA and China indispensable to each other.

Because of these threats to the American Dollar and the America"s special status as a super-power, USA is reluctant even to recognize Taiwan as a separate country, but still insisting upon the "one-China" policy, which basically approves Chinese colonialism over Taiwan. USA also has no policy towards Tibet, which was colonized by China in 1949. President Clinton has declared China as the strategic partner of USA. President Bush recently joined hands with China to oppose India"s possible membership of the UN Security Council. However, in 1972, President Nixon had no objection against China"s membership of the UN Security Council. USA even had forced the expulsion of Taiwan from the U.N to make room for China.

That was the reason when India has declared after the nuclear tests in 1998 that China is the enemy number one for India, it has cut no ice in USA. President Clinton still has imposed sanctions against India and India was isolated in the world temporarily. President Bush has forced India to start the peace-process with Pakistan, who has already killed more than 50,000 people in the Jammu & Kashmir and has managed to spread terrorism throughout India. USA also forced India to abandon its development of long-range missiles and any further nuclear testing. As a result, India has no credible nuclear forces and is in no match for China. This situation will not change in future in favour of India, as USA does not want India to have either nuclear weapons or missiles.

USA is not offering India any advanced weapons system or aircrafts. The F-16 aircraft, which USA has offered India is equivalent to Russian Mig-29, which India already got about ten years ago and is under production in HAL factories in India. USA is delivering same aircrafts to Pakistan and to a large number of other countries, as it wants to dispose of old aircrafts. A pure business deal from which USA not India will gain substantially is repackaged by the media as the friendly gesture of the United States to India.

Does India have credible nuclear force:

A credible nuclear force should be able to withstand the first strike by its adversary. It also should be able to carry our retaliatory nuclear strike against the enemy. When Indian"s nuclear delivery system depends only on the aircrafts, as India"s missiles are not fitted with nuclear weapons, India has doubtful capacity to strike back against Pakistan and has no capacity at all against China. Against China, India has Russian Tupolev-95 strategic bomber with 6000km range, but it is doubtful whether they can penetrate Chinese defense. India"s Agni-2 has a range of 2200km, thus it cannot reach most parts of China.

India needs to develop immediately a missile with 5000km range, which can strike China effectively; however, that is not possible due to the pressure from the U.S. The development of Agni-3 is delayed by more than ten years by now due to the objections from the U.S. With the Chinese mobile missile system, the best option for India to have nuclear powered submarine which can go close to China"s coast. Although it was offered by Russia a few years ago, India has opted for old French submarines, which are of no help in this matter.

China has a formidable nuclear force. It has deployed some 125 long range (1700km or more) nuclear armed ballistic missiles, It has developed DF-31 ballistic missiles with a range of 8000 km, which can hit any parts of India from anywhere in China. Other missiles in the armory of China include CSS-2, CSS-3, and CSS-5 of 1700km range, which also can hit India from Tibet. However, China has decided to use Pakistan against India, by supplying whatever China has. Thus, Pakistan is now more powerful in nuclear weapons delivery system than India can be in near future.

For India, aircrafts are the only available delivery system for nuclear weapons. Russian Sukhoy-30 and MIG-29 with a range up to 1400km, French Jaguar with a similar range, Russian MIG-27 with a slightly reduced range are the possible options for India. None of these can be useful against China. Whether they can penetrate Pakistan"s defense is a big question, because by the time India will be able to react after the first strike by Pakistan, India"s airfields and the aircrafts will be wiped out.

Pakistan"s M-11 missiles obtained from China are mobile missiles although these have short ranges of 300km. "No-Dong" missiles obtained from North Korea with the approval of China has 1500km range. This can cover most important parts of India. Pakistan has no need, unlike that of India, to conduct any tests to maintain its nuclear weapons, as it can obtain these whenever required from China. China does not bother to obey the Non-Proliferation Treaty; it has already supplied Chasma nuclear plant to Pakistan.

India"s position on nuclear plants:

For India, even the supply of adequate amounts of nuclear materials for weapons development is in doubt. The proposed new reactors in Kudankulam cannot be built by Russia anymore because of American objections. In Kudankulam Russia already built two reactors and provided low interest loans of $1.5 billion. Russia has resumed supplies of low-enriched nuclear fuel for Tarapur plant, originally built by USA, but abandoned after 1974. USA is now objecting to that supplies too. The realistic option for India is too wait for the completion in 2010 of Kalapakkam Fast Breeder Reactor, built by Russia to provide India enriched uranium for the nuclear weapons. However, that route also can be closed by USA who is increasing pressure on Russia through the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) of 44 nations. Unless India will abandon its nuclear weapons, it cannot be a member of the NSG either. To override the objections of the NSG, Russia has offered India a floating nuclear reactor, which can be placed near India"s shore. However, India is so far reluctant to accept it, as it would certainly annoy USA.

The Possible Role of India:

The reality is that by accepting American pseudo-friendship India is becoming weaker than even Pakistan, who has long-range missiles fitted with nuclear weapons imported from China and can be used against India at any time. As Pakistan has the policy of "first strike" with nuclear weapons, as obvious from the preparations of General Musharaf during the Kargil invasion of 1999, it is doubtful whether India, without the support of the Soviet Union as it had during both 1965 and 1971 wars, can withstand the first nuclear strike by Pakistan. The most likely scenario is that India will collapse, which would open the door for invasions by Pakistan, China, and Nepal.

India"s policy makers may have thought about this possibility, which has provoked them to surrender so easily to the American demand to accept the control of the IAEA on the nuclear facilities in India. USA wants India to be reduced to the level of the Philippines, Thailand, Kenya, or Egypt, whereby India would receive American political backings, some economic co-operations and foreign aid but it would not have any power of any significance but would be dependent upon the American goodwill.

The process of surrender has started in Jammu & Kashmir where India is gradually willing to surrender the sovereignty over Jammu & Kashmir for a joint administration or regional autonomy or open border with demilitarization of the region. The nuclear co-operation with USA would start the second phase of surrender to abolish nuclear weapons in India, but Pakistan, as an ally of both NATO and China, would still have nuclear weapons. It is unfortunate that the Indian media and the so-called experts of foreign policy cannot see the reality but have decided to live in a fool"s paradise.


Dr.Dipak Basu

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