The historic India-US nuclear deal is finally through. We seem to have won an important victory. It is clear that the US recognizes India as an important global player in the nuclear space. We get access to fuel for our starved civilian(?) nuclear facilities. Also, US companies can now build nuclear power plants in India and supply fuel for these plants. These two steps, if implemented without hitch, guarantee some energy security for India in an oil-starved future.
This deal is very important. Mainly, it finally cuts the frail umbilical cord that has bound a ‘teenage’ India to a tottering old Russia. Koodankulam doesn’t need Russian help anymore. The deal is an affirmation of the strength of our democracy, with the the US implicitly saying ‘we realize India is a responsible nuclear power’.
Also, by opening our civilian nuclear facilities to inspection by the IAEA, we only stand to gain. I am sure our technology is primitive compared to what the US currently possesses. By allowing IAEA to inspect our facilities, we not only gain credibility in the world arena, we also take an important step towards making sure that a Chernobyl or 3 Mile Island doesn’t happen in India.
Yes, the Congress government has seen far into the future and thought about India’s energy needs over the next 50-100 years. No doubt, they were influenced by the Atomic President, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. Wonder what he has to say about this deal.
So much for energy security. But what cost does this entail for India? In return for all the concessions and plutonium, what does the US want? In other words, what is the US’ biggest worry.
Without a doubt, it is China. In a quest to control Chinese world supremacy, the US wants other surrounding South Asian countries in its debt. When a confrontation emerges with China, the US expects its South Asian boys to gang up against the Chinaman. Therefore, we have a nuclear deal which offers major concessions to India while demanding very little. In fact, India can classify the installations it wants as civilian and allow IAEA to inspect them. Of course, not classifying other installations as civilian makes the CIA’s job easier (lesser places to look).
Another important US concern in Iran. Here, I think India has made a wise choice. To choose between a reactionary oil-rich Iran and a technology-rich democratic USA in a global forum is actually not as simple as it looks. But superficially, it looks like a good choice.
But my worry is this. Will the US put undue pressure on India to become a part of a Iraq-like Coalition of the Willing when it decides to invade Iran? The Iraq coalition of the willing did not find favor in the UN, and ended being a farce. But if India were to become a part of such a coalition, it would have a much better chance of appearing legitimate before the UN, and ergo, would legitimize an invasion of Iran. Will this happen? Maybe.
Pandora’s box is open. The troubles just have to come out.