Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Praful Bidwai, "Seductions of nuclear nationalism," Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 12, March 29, 2008


Many of the deal’s opponents argue that it’ll cap India’s fissile production and nuclear arsenal. In fact, it’ll facilitate its expansion. India will only subject 14 of its 22 operating/planned power reactors to inspections. The rest can annually yield 200 kg of plutonium — enough for 40 bombs, in addition to the existing 100-150, and way beyond the professed “minimum deterrent”. India can also produce unlimited amounts of bomb-fuel in its military- nuclear facilities, besides dedicating domestic uranium exclusively to weapons.

The opponents are right that under the Hyde Act, India-US nuclear cooperation will cease if India tests — despite mandatory “consultations”. These don’t bind Washington. The opponents’ gravest mistake is to root sovereignty in mass-destruction weapons. Sovereignty lies in the people, never in military hardware, leave alone horror weapons.

That highlights a huge flaw in our nuclear debate: the absence of any reference to peace and nuclear disarmament. The deal will further distort the nuclear order and encourage other states to cross the nuclear Rubicon. It’ll legitimise nuclear weapons — India’s and America’s — and prevent India from fulfilling its commitment, reiterated in the UPA’s Common Minimum Programme, to fight for a nuclear weapons-free world. This isn’t a trivial matter. Nuclear disarmament is a precondition for genuine security — everyone’s security. Manmohan Singh acknowledged this on May 28, 1998, when he pilloried the Pokharan-II tests. He accused the government of violating India’s nuclear “consensus”, whose first pillar holds that “nuclear weapons [are] weapons of mass destruction and their use [is] a crime against humanity”. So “India should be in the forefront of international efforts... to have these weapons outlawed…”


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