This refers to “India in a nuclear trap”, Mint, 7 August, on the Indo-US nuclear deal. Bharat Karnad’s convictions could be the iron bars of the cage that can act as shutters to thinking. The article is based on fondness for polarized stances, which were products of a bygone era, and on premises that are decades old and perhaps invalid today.
Two tragic bombs were enough to declare deterrence in a post- world war era. What you need for deterrence is exhibition of capability (done twice by India), exhibition of delivery systems (done ably by our space department and air force), the knowledge in others that we may have 50 if not 100 bombs. Chapter closed. All statements that say absence of future testing will make the deterrence hollow are hollow thoughts, or an erroneous conviction. How many bombs do you need?
India’s place in the world is because of its sustained democracy, an ancient conversation and culture, its economic progress and swelling foreign exchange reserves, and its people. The economic progress has come about due to integration with the global entity and not due to any isolationistic point of view.
The very fact that the 123 Agreement paves the way for India to join as a responsible global citizen and enjoy the trust of the world is a hallmark and recognition of our success already achieved.
The agreement will lead to broad-based supply of fuel from many potential countries as suppliers. Once the nuclear suppliers group (NSG) approves, does the Hyde Act apply in Russia or Canada or Australia or Africa? It does not. On top of that, the future nuclear agenda is simple. First, the civilian and military reactors are separate. The shuttered thinking that ‘testing’ is the only possible way of nuclear deterrence is quaint. Why more tests? To develop optimum weapons, there are other ways. Has Karnad not heard of computer simulations? More tests, to what end?
The reality of rising energy cost escapes the writer. The need to develop a stream of energy coming from nuclear power will free up dependencies on future escalating oil costs. Or should we say no to the nuclear power and allow another country to switch off a gas supply pipeline? Also, the input and availability of new nuclear technology will provide a quantum jump that will enable our scientists to bridge the gap towards developing thorium as the final fuel source and move away from dependency.
Because one political ideology thinks it can get some mileage from this agreement to get votes, and lead people away from other issues, or another thinks that traditionally the US is an opponent, does not mean they should ignore the positive outcomes of the deal. This is no time for nit-picking.
What do we have to fear if the IAEA people come and visit our civilian facilities? If they ask for account of the fuel processed? If we do not test (there is no need to) and we get consistent supply from NSG (not just the US)? If we do not proliferate (as we have been consistently against)? When our military reactors are separate? Where is the fear?
If we act responsibly and, in exchange, get the potential for millions of megawatts of energy, it is a good deal.
It is time we moved away from the past.
(Ashok Thussu, a people development mentor, helps senior management enhance their leadership potential. Bharat Karnad’s article can be read at www.livemint.com/nuketrap.htm. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org)