Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Nuclear deal: a messed up deal?

It took barely a week after NSG waiver to arrive at one conclusion shocking the UPA government, several followers of the deal and euphoric Indian media - nuclear deal is now a messed up deal.

Here are the 3 main reasons. Rather, these are facts that contradict the Prime Minister's assurances given on the floor of our Parliament.

1) "US will give uninterrupted and assured nuclear fuel supply" - was PM's statement. Bush on the other day revealed that there is nothing in the deal that makes US legally binding to give nuclear supply, but provides a framework only.

What does this mean? It means that the deal was presented to the public as though US is favoring the country by giving uninterrupted nuclear fuel namely - Uranium. Now, it is not so. So, why sign the deal which is not going to serve the purpose for which it was made?

2) "Even if India conducts the test there is no stop to the fuel supply" was PM's statement. The other day it was clealry exposed that US has the right to terminate the deal if India gives up its self imposed unilateral moratorium. It will also co-ordinate with other NSG countries to stop supplying the fuel.

What does this mean? It means that the moment we conduct a nuclear test, US will stop supplying fuel and will ask to give back in money what was given to us and not only that it will work with the other NSG countries to do the same. Why should our right to test become subservient to US interests' ? As it is the world recognized India as a responsible and growing power after we conducted nuclear tests in 1998 - thanks to Vajpayee. Today, China is far ahead in nuclear weapons than us and we intended to reach that level within 10 years post 1998. We are no where and we should be thinking of that as it is in our foremost security interest amidst hostile neighbors (Pak, China, Bangaldesh, Nepal and Lanka)

3) "The right to reprocess spent fuel lies with us" was PM's saying. But the reality is the latest inclusion in the Bill is that US can restrict the further reprocessing or enrichment of spent fuel. Further, US can also pressurize NSG countries to do the same.

What does this mean? This means that India's need of using spent fuel to generate electricity is not going to be met. This is the worst possible outcome of such a hyped up deal. Arun Shourie explains - we shall be able to reprocess the spent fuel only in a facility (a) set up at our cost; (b) under IAEA oversight; (c) and only in accordance with "arrangements and procedures" to which the US agrees. As for the right being "permanent", the answer to question 44 gives the lie. The answer does not just reiterate that the "arrangements and procedures" under which the reprocessing may be done shall have to be agreed to by the US; it says, "the proposed arrangements and procedures with India will provide for withdrawal of reprocessing consent." Permanent?

There are some tricky parts which clearly Arun Shourie, Brahma Chellany, Parthasarthy and several other intellectuals have explained in several articles. Arun Shourie, particularly, has given enough explanations.

In an interview Arun Shourie clearly explains why the deal is messed up. According to him, Hyde Act supersedes 123 Act. Actually, Atomic Energy Act of 1954 and Hyde Act of US apply when it comes to nuclear deal with India. Hyde Act was made separately and 123 agreement was the binding agreement between US and India. So, w.r.t NSG, neither 123 nor Hyde Act is applicable.

All these days BJP was claiming that 123 agreement is a trap to put India into Hyde Act. Our diplomats worked round the clock to get 123 agreement as the binding protocol instead of Hyde Act. The fact that NSG does not subscribe to both of them and follows its own protocol should have allayed the fears.

However, Arun Shourie clearly explains that in the event India conducts a test or should there be any violation of IAEA safegaurds agreement, US will terminate the deal and may work in co-ordination with other nSG countries to follow the same. Indirectly, it means that US will trap NSG countries into accepting Hyde Act/123 agreement. Hence, a bilateral agreement has become a multilateral agreement now. This action of US is exactly what is mentioned in the 123 agreement and the fact that there is a clause which says - "in implementing 123 agreement, hyde Act and Atomic Energy Act will be the underlying framework".

With so many questions and ambiguities the deal has become messed up and so simply the media ignores a whole lot of issues and becomes euphoric. So, the middle class which carefully follows must understand the flip side of the deal.

Moreover, by 2020, energy generated because of nuclear deal is going to meet only 7% of the demands -which means the Congress's future poll plank - "aap hume vote do, hum aapko bijli denge " is a total flop.

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