Tuesday 14 March 2006

Emasculating Nuclear India (UPI)

M.D. Nalapat

NEW DELHI, March 13 (UPI) -- There is zero doubt that India and the U.S. are natural partners. Steady migration to the U.S., the ever-denser interlinking of the hi-tech industry in both countries, and common threats from religious fundamentalism and political authoritarianism mandate that Washington and New Delhi forge an alliance that is as close as that between the U.S. and the UK.
However, the caveat to this is that such a partnership can only be on terms that are the same as what the U.S. accords to the U.K. In brief, the U.S. has first to accept India as a nuclear weapons state that deserves permanent membership in the U.N. Security Council. Unfortunately, almost all the formulae trotted out by the "South Asia" brigade in U.S. think tanks and other centers of influence such as the State Department implicitly or otherwise seek to "engage" India on terms that would, if accepted, result in an emasculation of the world's most populous democracy.
The proposed Nuclear Deal falls squarely in this category, and will, if sought to be implemented, push official U.S.-India relations back to the frost of the Cold War period.
Indians love flattery, and often surrender substance in exchange for a verbal pat on the head. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, by education as well as by his experience in international institutions, is predisposed to uncritical acceptance of the standard Western worldview, which implicitly sees India as a juvenile power needing mother-henning, and definitely not mature enough to be trusted with grown-up implements such as nuclear weapons and their associated delivery systems. This mistrust of the country's maturity -- despite New Delhi's impeccable non-proliferation record to date -- infuses the terms of the deal that has been agreed to by the Sonia Gandhi-led coalition government, hungry as always for formal acknowledgment of its improving status. Were the agreement to be implemented, India would almost immediately lose its chance to switch to the thorium cycle, and within 12 years would find its tiny arsenal of nuclear weapons depleted to irrelevance.