Sucheta Dalal :The cons of the nuclear deal - By G.V.Ramakrishna - (!Exclusive!)
Sucheta Dalal

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The cons of the nuclear deal - By G.V.Ramakrishna - (!Exclusive!)  

September 26, 2007

As far as the US is concerned, the deed is already done. Like a magician drawing attention of the gathering to his right hand while performing tricks with his left hand, public attention is being drawn to the 123 agreement while the implications of the Hyde Act and well hidden from discussion.

The title of the Hyde Act is ‘United States and India nuclear cooperation’; it does not refer only to civil nuclear cooperation but is wholly India specific. The Act has already been passed and has obtained the signature of the U S President. Interestingly, despite the assertions by some that it is only advisory, almost all sections of the Act says the President ‘shall’ do this, that or the other.

·        Under Sec 104 the President shall submit to the Congressional committees an annual report on several matters.

.        In Section D it is stipulated that the U S President will encourage India to identify and declare a date by which India would be willing to stop production of nuclear material for production of nuclear weapons unilaterally or pursuant to a multilateral moratorium or treaty.

·        In Section G it is stated that the President will give a description and assessment of the specific measures that India has taken to fully and actively participate in U S and international efforts to dissuade, isolate and if necessary, sanction and contain Iran for its efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction including a nuclear weapons capability and the capability to enrich uranium or reprocess nuclear fuel and the means to deliver weapons of mass destruction.

·        Sec 106 says that any determination and any waiver under sec 104 will cease to be effective if the President determines that India has exploded a nuclear device. India’s head of atomic energy, Mr. Anil Kakodkar seems to say in his interview to India Today of August 27 2007 that ‘there is no explicit mention about testing in the agreement. India has a unilateral moratorium on testing’

·        The 123 agreement itself states that it is subject to the laws of the U S and India. This only shows the effort to mislead India to believe that it is equal to the U S. In fact India has no equivalent law and the U S will be bound by the Hyde Act
·        The agreement says that it is bound by its statute. The India specific law is the Hyde Act and Sec 106 of the Hyde Act makes it clear that there is no scope for testing. The US negotiators must be laughing up their sleeves about the gullibility of our negotiators who think otherwise.        
·        This effectively means that India’s voluntary moratorium will no longer be relevant and India is bound in perpetuity not to test; it is no answer to say that India is free to test,. Since there are heavy consequences if we do test and these are apparent from other provisions of the agreement.
·        One of the numerous conditions imposed is that the President will report under Sec 104 H is the amount of uranium mined and milled in India every year. This will mean verification and inspection of the records and mining establishments in India by U S inspectors.
·        If we act in any manner as stipulated by the Hyde Act, Iran may stop supply of petroleum to India. Following on the thin end of the wedge of joint military exercises in the gulf will we cooperate with the U S in sending manpower to Iraq if the US asks India to send troops to Kuwait and later to Basra to replace American and British soldiers? If that happens, Iraq will also stop petroleum supplies to India. This would affect about 35 per cent of imported oil supplies and create major problems for us.
·        By all accounts the U S requirement that we stop production of fissile material will affect reprocessing, which is essential for the development of the thorium cycle. Our future self-sufficiency in energy is based on the thorium cycle which was expected  to be ready in the next 6 to 7 years, will be affected.
·        Thus in the hope of adding about 4 per cent of additional electrical energy by 2020 from the nuclear agreement we will be jeopardizing short term energy supplies and also our own long term supplies from domestic thorium sources, which are estimated to be about 350,000 MW  The Indian security situation will be seriously affected if we act as the front line surrogates against Iraq and Iran.
·        The general impression being created that the 123 Agreement will gives enough room to avoid the unpleasant consequences totally ignores the scope of the Hyde Act to which the 123 Agreement will be subordinate. 
·        Even though it may be diplomatically difficult and awkward if we withdraw now, the consequences of going through with the agreement, in my view will be far more serious. Our diplomatic and political skills should now be utilized to put off the implementation till the new US Congress is prepared to make changes in the Hyde Act.
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Mr.G.V.Ramakrishna is a former Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India and later the Disinvestment Commission. He was a Member of the Planning Commission and was awarded the Padma Bhushan for his distinguished service.

-- Sucheta Dalal