Making A Difference

'Unable To Accept The Agreement'

'The Left calls upon the government not to proceed further with the operationalising of the agreement. There has to be a review of the strategic aspects of Indo-US relations in parliament.'

Advertisement

'Unable To Accept The Agreement'
info_icon

The Left parties have consistently held that the nuclear cooperationagreement should not be seen in isolation from the overall strategic tie up withthe United States. The nuclear cooperation deal is an integral part of the July2005 joint statement, which has political, economic and strategic aspects.It is also closely linked to the June 2005 military framework agreement signedwith the United States.

It is therefore not possible to view the text of the bilateral"123" agreement negotiated with the United States as a separate andcompartmentalized entity without considering its implications for India'sindependent foreign policy, strategic autonomy and the repercussions of the USquest to make India its reliable ally in Asia. Following from the July 2005joint statement, steps have been taken to entangle India into a complex web ofpolitical, economic and military relationships as part of the "strategicpartnership". The talk of the two democracies working together on a globalscale, the growing influence of US-India forums on economics and commerce andthe increasing military collaboration seen through the negotiations for theLogistics Support Agreement, the steadily escalating joint exercises and theinevitable demand that India purchase expensive weaponary from the UnitedStates.

Advertisement

Even now, the briefing by the US spokesman on the bilateral nuclear agreementemphasises the cooperation India extended in efforts to isolate Iran by votingtwice against it in the IAEA and the clear expectation that it will continue toextend this "cooperation".

Such an expectation is in line with the Hyde Act provisions, which looms inthe background. The bilateral agreement cannot be seen outside the context ofthe Hyde Act. However much the two sides have sought by skillful drafting toavoid the implications of the Hyde Act, it is a "national law" whichis there, at present, and will be there, in the future. The agreement whichbinds India into clauses of perpetuity and which legitimises the US abiding byits "national laws" is something which should be seen objectively forits serious implications.

Advertisement

Serious concern had been expressed by the Left Parties about variousconditions inserted into the Hyde Act passed by the US Congress. A number ofthem pertain to areas outside nuclear co-operation and are attempts to coerceIndia to accept the strategic goals of the United States. These issues are:

  • Annual certification and reporting to the US Congress by the President on a variety of foreign policy issues such as India's foreign policy being "congruent to that of the United States" and more specifically India joining US efforts in isolating and even sanctioning Iran [Section 104g(2) E(i)]
  • Indian participation and formal declaration of support for the US' highly controversial Proliferation Security Initiative including the illegal policy of interdiction of vessels in international waters [Section 104g(2) K
  • India conforming to various bilateral/multilateral agreements to which India is not currently a signatory such as the US' Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Australia Group etc [Section 104c E,F,G]

All of these are a part of the Hyde Act. The 123 Agreement refers only to thenarrow question of supply of nuclear materials and co-operation on nuclearmatters. The provisions of the Hyde Act are far wider than the 123 agreement andcould be used to terminate the 123 agreement not only in the eventuality of anuclear test but also for India not conforming to the US foreign policy. Thetermination clause is wide ranging and does not limit itself to only violationof the agreement as a basis for cessation or termination of the contract.Therefore, these extraneous provisions of the Hyde Act could be used in thefuture to terminate the 123 Agreement. In such an eventuality, India would beback to complete nuclear isolation, while accepting IAEA safeguards inperpetuity. Therefore, the argument that provisions of the Hyde Act do notmatter and only 123 clauses do, are misplaced.

Advertisement

The Left parties have well known views against nuclear testing forweaponisation, but that does not mean acceptance of any US imposed curbs onIndia's sovereign right to exercise that choice. The direction in the Hyde Actwith regard to the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) is unacceptable.

An important aspect of the Indo-US nuclear cooperation is the relegation ofIndia's traditional commitment to universal nuclear disarmament. By gettingaccommodated in a US led unequal global nuclear order, India's leading role inadvocating nuclear disarmament as a major country of the non aligned communityis being given the go by.

While the 123 Agreement is being presented as a victory for India's positionsand conforming to the Prime Minister's assurances in the Parliament, we findthat there are a number of issues on which it falls short of what the PrimeMinister had assured the Parliament. While the Indian commitments are bindingand in perpetuity, some of the commitments that the US has made are either quiteambiguous or are ones that can be terminated at a future date.

Advertisement

Under the terms set by the Hyde Act, it was clear that one of the keyassurances given by Prime Minister to Parliament on August 17, 2006 -- thatIndo-U.S. nuclear co-operation would cover the entire nuclear fuel cycle --would be violated. The proposed 123 agreement while superficially using theoriginal wording of the Joint Statement of 2005, "full civilian nuclearco-operation", denies co-operation or access in any form whatsoever to fuelenrichment, reprocessing and heavy water production technologies. The statementof intent in the agreement that a suitable amendment to enable this access maybe considered in the future has little or no operative value.

Further, this denial (made explicit in Art 5.2 of the proposed agreement)also extends to transfers of dual-use items that could be used in enrichment,reprocessing or heavy water production facilities, again a stipulation of theHyde Act. Under these terms, a wide range of sanctions on a host of technologieswould continue, falling well short of "full civilian nuclearco-operation".

Advertisement

It is also important to recognise that the fast breeder reactors under thisagreement would be treated as a part of the fuel cycle and any technologyrequired for this would also come under the dual use technology sanctions. Thiswould be true even if future fast breeder reactors were put in the civiliansector and under safeguards. Thus, India's attempt to build a three-phase,self-reliant nuclear power program powered ultimately by thorium would have tobe developed under conditions of isolation and existing technology sanctions.

It might be noted that dual-use technologies pertain to a wide variety ofitems, which are used well beyond the nuclear sector and by this clause the UShas effectively armed itself with a lever for imposing sanctions on a range ofIndian activities. Even in the new facilities built for reprocessing the spentfuel under safeguards, the onerous technological sanctions implied by the"dual-use" label will apply. This is certainly a major departure fromwhat the Prime Minister had assured the House that this deal recognises India asan advanced nuclear power and will allow access to full civilian technologies.

Advertisement

Another key assurance that had been given by the Prime Minister was thatIndia would accept safeguards in perpetuity only in exchange for the guaranteeof uninterrupted fuel supply. While the acceptance on India's part of safeguardsin perpetuity has been spelt out, the linkage of such safeguards with fuelsupply in perpetuity remains unclear. The assurance that the United States wouldenable India to build a strategic fuel reserve to guard against disruption ofsupplies for a duration covering the lifetime of the nuclear reactors inoperation appears to have been accepted in the agreement. The agreement alsoassures that in the event of termination of co-operation with the United States,compensation would be paid for the return of nuclear materials and relatedequipment. This will be small comfort for the damage caused.

Advertisement

However, whether the fuel supply will continue even after cessation ortermination of the agreement depends solely on the US Congress. The Hyde Actexplicitly states that the US will work with other Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)countries to stop all fuel and other supplies to India if the agreement isterminated under US laws. Since this agreement explicitly gives the domesticlaws the over-riding power, it appears that fuel supply from the US will notonly cease in case the US decides to terminate the Agreement but they are alsorequired under the Hyde Act to work with Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to barall future supplies. The clause 5.2 on disruption of supplies therefore seems tobe limited to "market failures" and not to cover a disruption thattakes place under the clauses of the Hyde Act. In such an eventuality, the USwill have to pay compensation to India but all future fuel supplies would stop.Therefore, the 123 agreement represents the acceptance of IAEA safeguards inperpetuity for uncertain fuel supplies and continuing nuclear isolation withrespect to a substantial amount of technological know-how.

Advertisement

It is clear that the UPA government looks forward to an agreement with theNSG that would be more wide-ranging than the 123 agreement allowing for accessto enrichment and reprocessing technologies, support for building a strategicreserve and provision of nuclear fuel in case of disruption of U.S. supplies ortermination or cessation of the 123 agreement. In the likely event that the NSGdoes not oblige, the terms of the 123 agreement would impact even morenegatively than they appear now. The same consideration applies to any agreementthat would be made with the IAEA.

The Prime Minister assured the Parliament that all steps would be taken byIndia reciprocally with steps by the US. The Agreement ties India into long-termvirtually irreversible changes in its nuclear institutional structures andarrangements. It is crucial to ensure that India is fully satisfied on allaspects of the agreement as also other strategic and foreign policy concernsbefore it actually implements its separation plan and placing of its civilianfacilities under permanent IAEA safeguards. Not only the provisions of theAgreement but also the sequencing of actions is therefore of vital importance.

Advertisement

The flawed nuclear cooperation agreement cannot be justified on the debatablebasis of augmenting our energy resources, or achieving energy security. Themotivation for the US side is commercial gains which will accrue for itscorporates running into billions of dollars.

The bilateral nuclear agreement must be seen as a crucial step to lock inIndia into the US global strategic designs. Alongside negotiations for thenuclear accord, steps have been taken for closer military collaboration. TheAccess and Cross Servicing Agreement, otherwise known as the Logistics SupportAgreement is being pushed ahead as provided for in the Defence FrameworkAgreement . This would lead to regular port calls by US naval ships in Indianports for fueling, maintenance and repairs. The regular joint naval exerciseshave now been widened to include India in the trilateral security cooperationwhich exists between the US, Japan and Australia. The September joint navalexercises in the Bay of Bengal are a major step in this direction. The UnitedStates is exerting pressure on India to buy a whole range of weaponary such asfighter planes, helicopters, radars and artillery involving multi-billion dollarcontracts. The aim is to ensure "inter-operability" of the two armedforces.

Advertisement

The Left parties had earlier cautioned the government not to accept nuclearcooperation with United States on terms that compromises its independent foreignpolicy and its sovereign rights for developing a self-reliant nuclear programme.It had asked the UPA government to desist from proceeding with the negotiationsfor the 123 agreement till the inimical provisions of the Hyde Act are clearedout of the way.

The Left parties, after a careful assessment of the text of the 123 agreementand studying it in the context of the burgeoning strategic alliance with theUnited States, are unable to accept the agreement. The Left calls upon thegovernment not to proceed further with the operationalising of the agreement.There has to be a review of the strategic aspects of Indo-US relations inparliament. The Left parties will press for a Constitutional amendment forbringing international treaties and certain bilateral agreements for approval inparliament.

Advertisement

(Prakash Karat)

Communist Party of India (Marxist)

(A.B. Bardhan)

Communist Party of India

(Devarajan)

All India Forward Bloc

(Abani Roy)

Revolutionary Socialist Party

Tags

    Advertisement

    Advertisement

    Advertisement

    Advertisement

    Advertisement

    Advertisement