Tuesday, March 07, 2006

US-India Nuclear Accord: Groundbreaking and Controversial

On my drive home, I was listening to a Bloomberg Radio program called Simply Put, where they were discussing the recent Nuclear Accord that India and US have signed. They were saying that this accord is of bigger signifance than Vietnam War, Iraq War & Katrina and that US is giving preferential treatment to India who has not signed Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and that this would wrong signals to countries like Iran and North Korea.

While I consider that India definitely got the better side of this deal, I certainly don't think it was preferential. Whether US wants to accept or not, India is a nuclear-state with decades of responsible nuclear policy -- that of "no-first strike" and "nuclear minimum deterrent". India's reasons for not signing the NPT are well founded and it's not the only country which hasn't signed the NPT either. From a purely economical point of view, this deal makes perfect sense. In the next 50 years, India is poised to be the fastest growing nation in the world with an annual GDP growth of 5-8%. And with a rise in the middle class, India's energy needs are going to increase. India currently produces only 5% of its energy needs through nuclear power. Unless this changes, India would use up a lot of coal that world produces - fast. Nuclear energy is an obvious and economical solution to this problem. And guess who's the other country who will need a lot of coal for producing energy - the US. And with everchanging world alignment, I think US wants India to counterbalance against China in that part of the world.

The deal is not done yet as it has to be approved by the US Congress as there's a law (Atomic Energy Act) which has to be amended to allow this deal to go through. While it is going to be a tough fight, I think this legislation would get through. It doesn't end there. The deal has to be approved by NSG which is again going to be difficult.

While, India works out the nuclear separation plan, it needs to be careful and negotiate hard on the finer details -- particularly on the perpetuity clause. It also needs to keep its strategic nuclear programme (Fast Breeder Reactor) away from inspections. And I am sure, there are some guarantees that are built-in (although invisible) from India favoring the US. Let's hope that its not something huge.

While it is controversial, I think this is a win-win deal. But the timing of this deal couldn't have been worse - right in the middle of the Iran Nuclear Controversy.


  1. I can't understand US sense of moral superiority on nuclear issues. How can they forget that US is the only country to have used nuclear weapon, that also twice. Why do western countries think that it is only there god given right to have nuclear weapons?

    You pointed out that India has no first use policy. But US refuses to give any such gurantee. They have threatened non nuclear countries with nuclear weapons. In my opinion US is the most irresponsible nuclear power.

    How can these jerks judge India?

    BTW is Z100 not good enough for u now? :D

  2. I can't listen to Z100 for more than 10 minutes. It's too loud for me. And I thought, while I drive why don't I educate myself instead of listening to some gal singing "My humps" :)

    As much I disagree with The Dubya, I agree with him on this issue -- God I never thought I'd say this.

  3. If you can't take Z100 any more then you are getting old :)
    I remember the time your favorite song used to be Stacy's Mom