Indian Nuke Deal

This is with regard to the Indian civil nuke deal currently making the rounds in the US Senate and the Indian parliament.

I've seen reports on both sides now saying that the deal is a half-measure. US reports seem to indicate that India should be put under stricter controls and have more facilities open to inspection. The Indian reports seem to indicate that India has willingly retarded its nuclear program. 

My questions (maybe naive and in the wrong forum :))  are as follows.
  1. I can understand why the US is interested in this deal. It can use this deal to put India in a legal bind with any future proliferation and testing initiatives India might entertain. Also, Dr. Rice’s comments on India’s energy needs and collaboration with Iran are compelling. Plus, the US makes money out of it too.
    The Indian polity seems amazingly naive to be signing up for something like this. Seeing that the US deal-makers seem to have this kind of levarage on their Indian counter-parts, I think they should go for broke and demand 100% inspection of Indian facilities and complete ban on testing. Would this work?

  2. Is this a model the US can follow in the more troubled parts of the world with propensity to be trouble spots? In countries like Egypt, Pakistan, African net oil importers, South America etc, The US and the Nuclear Suppliers Group can follow a program of low Grade Civilian Nuclear Proliferation. The US can build and operate nuclear plants for other countries or have strict regulation and inspection. This will ensure that developing countries become dependent on clean nuclear fuel rather than oil and dont have to jump into bed with troubled OPEC countries. Instead, In the next 10-20 years, as more of these countries become dependent on the Nuclear Suppliers Group for their energy needs, US sanctions will have more sting to it than they have currently.

    Is this a stretch or is this worth pursuing? In my opinion, any chance we get in reducing global oil demand is a worth-while cause.

I’m pretty sure that every regime that can afford nukes wants them, from us or from Russia, or from Korea, or from anyone else.
And also, there is one side of their political system that can raise a nationalistic banner to keep us from dictating what they can and can’t persue. Who is the US to tell an independent state that they cannot join the arms race?
Once we build a plant, which takes years, we must expect a regime change that will take control of it out of our hands.

I agree with you that they will have nationalistic pressures. But the way the Indian deal is turning out, even though India has those nationalistic elements, the US was able to extract some pretty serious concessions. India seems to think that it can live with these kind of restrictions from the US in return for energy independence from oil.

Well, the US has no right to dictate what a country should do … However, the US can set the terms at which it will sell nuclear energy. Its up to the individual countries to decide whether they want to accept those terms. Like in the case of India, they have taken the energy option rather than the weapons option.

This seems like a better option than the US unilaterally pushing NPT and CTBT and being percieved as a bully.

This is a valid point. I can see 2 ways to tackle this.
One way is the Iran example. The US had sold F14s to Iran but after the coup and the US was kicked out, Iran was not able to use them. The reason being, the US had never turned over key software control data to Iran. A strategy similar to this with is worthwhile.
Secondly, If we do get kicked out, the US goes back into bully mode and gets the nuclear fuel out of there by force. We stipulate that we have the right to protect our strategic assets. This would be similar to places where we have US military bases in other countries.

You appear to be severely misinformed about what is actually happening. The US showed no leverage whatsoever. The US came out of this with absolutely nothing and the Indians got just about everything they wanted.

The US already demanded greater inspection of Indian facilities and the Indians refused. The US caved. The US demanded that India’s fast breeder reactors be put under inspection and the Indians refused. The US caved. The US demanded that India stop its production of fissile material for future nuclear weapons and India refused. The US caved.

Essentially, the US is giving India a massive exemption to the current laws about selling nuclear fuel and assisting in developing nuclear energy to countries that have not signed up to the NPT. In return, the US gets to inspect some nuclear sites which are chosen by India.

I am curious as to what leverage the US appears to have since all evidence points to India having all of the leverage.

This, too, is not true. Iran most certainly was able to use its F-14 fleet (although not at full force due to a lack of parts and maintenance equipment after the embargo) after the fall of the Shah, although sabotage prevented them from using the Phoenix missiles they had in stock. This may be what you were thinking of.

Just a Guy: first off, the deal is yet to hit the India parliament. The reason there hasn’t been much debate about the deal, in India at least, is because the negotiations have been, for the most, kept classified. Whatever information is available has come mainly from statements made in senate committee hearings by the secretary of state. Opposition is building rapidly, both political and public, based on these statements, initially from opposition parties and recently from voices within the ruling party as well. At the moment though, it seems there’s a lot of opinion and not much fact.

AFAIK, the original deal had India allowing full IAEA inspections in 14 (to be designated as civilian) of India’s 21 nuclear reactors. All new civilian nuclear facilities would also come under IAEA inspections - India has however reserved the right to designate nuclear facilities as civilian or military as it sees fit. India’s military facilities would be fully separated from civilians ones. India has asked for a blanket waiver from the US on nuclear fuel and technology purchases, subject only to the IAEA. India has also reiterated its commitment to a voluntary ban on further nuclear tests. There are other points, but I don’t remember them offhand. At no time, however, would the US, or any other entity, have ‘control’ over India’s nuclear facilities.

Second, the deal with India is being characterized as a special case, citing India’s energy requirements, stable democracy and history of non-proliferation. According to our newspapers, the IAEA and most members of the NSG are agreeable to bringing India into the NSG regime, and are waiting for the deal to be passed by the Indians and Americans before doing so them self. I doubt this model could be used with any of the countries you mention.

And just to add some nationalistic bluster, there is no way the US, or anyone, could “gets the nuclear fuel out of there by force”, short of a military invasion of India.

Neurotik, US Senate hearings have seen senators wanting additional concessions from India. These include a halt of production of fissile material, the opening of more facilities to inspections, an irrevocable ban on any further nuclear tests, and a case-by-case waiver system wherein individual transfers of fuel and technology would require congressional/presidential approval. Note that none of these conditions have yet been presented to India.

India has no operational fast breeder reactors, AFAIK. There is one under construction, and due to go critical in 2010. Under the terms of the original agreement, it will not be subject to inspections, as you have pointed out.

According to the original deal, the US will not have any leverage. Note that should the US and India approve of the deal, the NSG will also very likely do the same. India would be under no compulsions to source fuel and technology from the US alone. At any rate, the additional concessions would allow far too much leverage to the US, with energy, security and policy implications, for India to agree to them.

I’ll expand more on this tomorrow… I have to leave now.

As I understand it, two issues have been left out of the wording of the deal, but have not been left unsaid. The first is that India should direct a large part of its defense procurements from the US. India is a big importer of conventional arms, tradionally excluding the US in favour of Russia, England, France, Germany and recently even Israel, for the procurement of conventional arms. The US is desperate for a slice of that pie, because it’s a big one that’s getting bigger yet - probably the biggest one around, short of China. It’s obviously a lot of money, and a lot of jobs.

India will be wary of letting itself become dependent on the US wrt to defense procurements. There is just too much history of the US imposing unilateral sanctions, not just on India. While the US is obviously within its rights to impose sanctions, India tradionally has not taken well to bullying tactics. And aside from the US, few other countries stopped dealing with India after both her nuclear tests, so India is naturally more confident in continuing dealing with those countries only. The mood right now is to open some of the procurements to US firms, but keep it out of the major items (like the current tender for multi-role fighter jets).

The second issue is that India should be expected to toe the US line on specific foreign policy issues, not necessarily consistent with India’s own tradional foreign policy. IOW, join the Coalition of the Willing. This will not go down well with Indian policy makers, and neither will it go down well with the country itself. An Indian government seen to be surrending foreign policy against its own interests to any outside entity wouldn’t last very long.

Personally, I’m in two minds about this deal. In its original form, I’m agreeable to it. It’s a win-win situation. India gets quicker access to civilian fuel and techonology, and the US and a bunch of countries get our money and generate jobs. Bilateral ties get strengthened too, and I’m all for that.

However, additional concessions as demanded by US senators won’t get my approval. If you’re looking for leverage, I say you take the deal and stuff it. India has gotten by without outside help in nuclear tech for decades, and it can continue to that. In any case, this nuclear deal only accounts for about 15% of India’s energy requirements, that too after 20 years when the potential new reactors go critical. Not enough to justify curtailing our security needs. Also, these conditions would be unilateral for India only - it doesn’t make sense any way you look at it.

India has already crossed the bridge into de-facto nuclear power status on its own terms. Either the world accepts it, or it doesn’t.