The latest covering note by President Bush of the draft 123 Agreement to the U.S. Congress and the earlier letter from the State Department completely dilute the 2005 agreement. The Nuclear Suppliers Group is said to have privately agreed that none of its members would sell sensitive technology to India whereas our government is repeatedly claiming that what is happening in the U.S. is their internal matter and that we are bound by the 123 agreement and the consensus reached after three amendments at the NSG (the details of which have not been made public till date).The Bush administration is trying rush the approval process telling Congress and the Senate that the Indian claims are political and have no legal binding. The Prime Minister should come clean in this regard.
The volte-face regarding fuel supply assurances has clearly betrayed the fact that the Americans did not negotiate the agreement with benevolent intentions towards India. Now that we have obtained a waiver from the NSG enabling us to do nuclear trade with France and Russia, the government must display the resolve to play hard-ball with the U.S. The government must at once release a white paper detailing its interpretations of the provisions of the 123 text regarding fuel supply and re-processing rights. The U.S. must be asked to make its interpretations known.
The interpretations trotted out by the Indian and U.S. governments, especially on the pith and core of the deal — uninterrupted fuel supply, technology transfer and the right to test — cause much concern. If this is the pre-deal predicament, what is in store for India is anybody’s guess. Instead of wriggling out of this ignominy, Manmohan Singh indulges in roseate rhetoric such as “right to test and right to react.” What price on the Indian tax payers! Even now, it is not too late to wriggle out of the deal.
India is badly in need of nuclear reactors as well as uranium supply, not for making bombs but for producing energy for commercial purposes. We have already tested enough bombs. What is the use of piling up more and more bombs by conducting more tests and where is the question of possible future tests? If this nuclear deal will enable uninterrupted fuel supply, we must allow Dr. Singh to sign the agreement. Kudos to the Prime Minister for surviving the opposition threats.