You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.
-quote falsely attributed to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.
India’s strategic triad of nuclear forces have always concerned Western military strategists and non-proliferation ayatollahs despite its exemplary non-proliferation despite living among the ‘Proliferation Wal-Marts of the World’ (link highly recommended). As a non-signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), India can neither get technical assistance nor purchase components/Uranium supply needed for its civilian or military reactors.Thanks to the pioneering vision of Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha, India has had a brilliant indigenous nuclear programme counting among the few countries which can design, build and operate reactors on its own. The bottleneck is the supply of fissile material - mostly Uranium, which we have very little of. So far all of India’s Uranium requirements have come from doemstic mining by the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL). Oflate, UCIL has been facing ‘resistance’ due to environmental concerns from local villagers or ‘concerned’ NGOs though there are encouraging signs in the discovery of new mines. Infact, this is one good reason to continue developing Fast Breeder Reactors (FBR) for power generation which uses very less Uranium/Plutonim but Thorium as the principal material, which India has plently (more below).
Question #1: What are the advantages of the N-deal?With low domestic Uranium reserves of India, it is estimated that the maximum installed capacity cannot exceed 20,000 MW over a 40 year period. This is clearly not enough given India’s rapid industrialization and economic growth. Now if the N-deal goes through, India can buy natural Uranium at market prices and import as many reactors from abroad under IAEA regulations. Indian businesses and households can benefit immensively from the availability of affordable and uninterruped power supply - essential for India’s development.
Question #2: What did the July 18th deal say about existing treaties?The original text of the Indo-US deal talked about signing the ‘multilateral’ Fissile Missile Cut-off Treaty (FMCT). Note the word multilateral. Since none of the ‘declared’ Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) have signed or will sign this treaty, India too does not have to sign it. Indeed, as we speak the United States is developing tactical bunker-busting mini-nukes, the United Kingdom is replacing its Trident strategic missile system and the French President Jaques Chirac has recently announced a First Nuclear Strike policy if their ‘vital interests’ are attacked.
Conclusion #1: FMCT will never be signed by existing Nuclear Weapons States.Question #2: What is this ‘voluntary’ separation plan?
The agreement also emphasized on the ‘voluntary’ separation of its civil and nuclear facilities. Alas as of today, the U.S. Secretary of State Condelezza Rice has termed India has ‘difficult choices’ to make and ‘analysts’ have raised ‘concerns’ about setting an arms race in Asia. Hey, whatever happened to the word ‘voluntary’? So the uber-smart Americans want us to 'voluntarily' (note the oxymoron) declare most of India's reactors as civilian with IAEA safeguards, that way they can indirectly put a cap on the strategic programme. It is not yet known on the number of reactors that will be placed under civilian list. Former Atomic Energy Regulatory Board chairman, Dr. A. Gopalakrishnan wrote that only the five five new Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR) nuclear reactors under construction can be placed under civilian list but warned against letting in IAEA inspectors for any of the existing PHWR.Conclusion #2: This ain’t ‘voluntary’ but obligatory.
Question #3: So, what is the real intention of the separation plan?India’s initial proposal excluded its FBR programme to be placed in its civlian list. Ofcourse, there was never a question of including the Cirus and Dhruva reactors, officially classified as ‘research reactors’ in the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) from where most of the fissile materials comes for India’s weapons programme. In addition, the Rare Materials Plant (RMP), a Uranium enrichment facility utilized for the classified nuclear submarine programme christened Advanced Techonology Vessel (ATV), which was also off the civilian list. But barring the Dhruva reactor, the U.S. wants to place most of the reactors under civilian list. Prof. Bharat Karnad, a top defense policy analyst warns the underlying assumption of the N-deal - is to put a cap on the available fissile material, and thus the weapons programme itself.
Conclusion #3: The U.S. wants to dilute India’s strategic program by spreading the scientific resources and research funding thin.Question #4: What about transparency?
Even as the US wants to put a cap on India’s nuclear arsenal, retired Generals have raised concerns on the need to diversify the means of delivery of strategic nuclear forces. India’s ex-Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha wrote in the Hindustan Times that the voluntary nature of the promised agreement with reciprocity making India a NWS is now in serious danger with the U.S. now dictating the terms of agreement and is shifting the goal posts constantly. He further accused the lack of transparency of the Indian government and the citizens on the negotiating terms. Indian government has a responsibility to go public with the details of the Indo-US nuclear deal as the Opposition parties have been demanding.Conclusion #3: Need to take in the Armed Forces and principal Opposition parties into confidence.
Question #4: Will everything be hunky-dory if an agreement is eventually reached?International Uranium prices have been steadily increasing over the past few years. The increase in demand for oil and gas with more countris such as China building more reactors, the upward trend in price is only expected to continue. There is a renewed enthusiam for building new reactors even in eco-conscious European countries such as UK, France and Germany. Again, it makes sense for India to continue developing FBR-type Advanced Thorium Breeder Reactors (ATBR) without IAEA inspections. This opinion too was shared by some of India’s nuclear scientists though we are not certain if it is a consensus opinion.
Also, Prof. Karnad warns against the importation of unproven/uncertificed nuclear reactors from U.S. companies such as Westinghouse Electric Inc. given that they have effectively stopped building new reactors in the United States after the Three Mile Island accident. He advocates more funding and agressive use of new technologies to improve the yield of local Uranium mining.Bottom line: We feel that the issue has been negotiated in a hasty manner to time it just before the arrival of President Bush’s ‘South Asia’ visit. The real intention of the United States is still not clear as we don’t buy the ‘Making India a Superpower’ statement by Condi Rice. History shows that existing Superpowers simply don’t make other Superpowers. If the U.S. genuinely wants a strong partner in Asia, it does not make sense to try to put a cap of India’s relatively small strategic forces. On the fossil fuel side, the U.S. dos not want India to pursue oil deals with regimes which it considers ‘hostile’ thus making India over dependent on a more ‘friendly’ Saudi Arabia. Thus we believe that the agreement merits more discussion and transparency on the part of the Indian government. Cross-posted in Desicritics.org Update: Former ambassador G. Parthasarathy very much echoes our thougts in the Daily Pioneer. (posting since DP does not archive).
The United States appears to have got the impression that we would be willing to go to the extent of limiting, if not capping our nuclear weapons capabilities to secure access to nuclear power and technology. Both these impressions need to be corrected. Perceptions are as important as reality in the conduct of international relations. ... The July 18 Indo-US Agreement stipulates that it is for India to choose the nuclear facilities it wishes to put under safeguards. The Bush Administrations has, however, yielded to pressure by the "Ayatollahs of Nonproliferation" in Washington's think tanks and is seeking to decide the facilities we should place under international safeguards. ... The Government has taken an inordinately long time to prepare a separation plan. India needs a credible nuclear deterrent, at least akin to that of France. We should not accept any measure that curtails this effort. It should, however, be possible to determine how many reactors are required to build such an arsenal. Nor should we have reservations on placing fast breeder reactors not required for weapons development under safeguards, once their technology is proven. The forthcoming visit of President Bush will have a meaningful impact only of these hurdles are removed prior to his arrival in India.
They have all been eliminated. Either killed or arrested. About six or eight months ago, we issued a list of all banned organizations and their leaders, about 380 or 390 of them. Now we have arrested about 50 percent of them, and the rest are underground. Internationally you have to address core issues. The military is not the ultimate answer—you can kill people [but] you are not going to achieve anything. While we are angry at the violation of sovereignty by the XYZ., I am also angry at the violation of sovereignty by ABC. If they do anything, I will hit them so hard they won’t know what hit them. These are independent groups acting without any guidance or support from anyone, following their own agendas.Hint #1: All these quotes could be attributed to a single person. Hint #2 Hint #3
We examine the ‘events’ happening in Balochistan analyzing the recent developments with a round-up on the media coverage. The Balochwhat you might ask. To give a super-quick summary, Balochistan is the largest, poorest and sparsely populated province in Pakisan, forming a border with Iran - but it has large quantities of natural gas, and minerals vital for Pakistan’s needs. It is also the home to the warm-water port of Gwader which the Pakistani Navy is co-developing with the Chinese. The geo-strategic importance of this region cannot be more understated than this. See map here. Readers intersted in the history of Baloch rebellion can read this excellent summary from Praveen Swami. So what’s happening there?
The Acorn first noted “At least thirty thousand army personnel, twelve helicopter gunships, four fighter jets, several spy planes of different sizes, heavy artillery and missiles are now waging a bloody war in Balochistan.”We then observed the shocking use of American-made (donated for fighting the Taliban and the Al-Queda) anti-bunker missiles, helicopter gunships being used in aerial bombardement against one’s own population by General Musharraf under the guise of enforcing the ‘writ of the state’ against ‘miscreants’. wrote that one of the major causes of Balochi trouble is that the Pakistani Army is stingy with the royalty payments for gas exploration. Further, job opportunities for the local Balochis are minimal given most of the workers are Pashtuns and Punjabis who come from elsewhere.
OK, what exactly is the Army developing there and why the local populace are opposed?“The Chinese are increasing their presence in development projects like the Gwadar port and the Saindak copper mines. The Baluch are none too happy about these mega-projects. The Gwadar deep-sea port, the coastal highway and a naval base can bring in half a million non-Baluchis in the immediate future, reducing the local population to a minority, local leaders fear. Thus, a car bomb which killed three Chinese engineers at Gwadar in May 2004.” wrote Aditya Sinha in the Hindustan Times.
In an interview to Voice of America, Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugt Bugti told: “Anyone has to be insane to oppose development. We are not against development. They are imposing things on us that we don’t need. The people of Balochistan are backward. We need irrigation canals, hospitals and schools. They want to give us airfields, cantonments and helipads. The Balochis don’t need them. Is this what you call development?”.Ms. Asma Jehangir of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan alarmed by the esclating violence between the Army and the Baloch rebels in Dera Bugti promise to go over there on a fact finding mission .
Coincidentally, her vehicle was attacked by ‘unknown gunmen’ (ed. damn, we hate that word) during her visit there.Readers who can understand Urdu can listen to the Voice of America interview here (Real Media).
Ms. Jehangir has since issued a scathing report on the blatant human rights violation against Balochis by the Pakistani Army/FC and has called for ceasefire and demanded both parties to begin talks.Alok Bansal writing for Rediff observes that though the Pakistani Army justified the brutal campaign due to indiscriminate sabotage of the part of miscreants, the Army operations seemed well-planned which was supposed to take place much earlier but delayed due to the October earthquake.
More internaional media coverage came when the rebels blew up an Anglo-American owned gas plant. “Samina Ahmed, director of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, noted that conflicts in the region have continued to simmer long after cease-fires have been announced. "No army action has ever succeeded in Balochistan” wrote the Wall Street Journal.Another Baloch leader Sardar Sherbaz Khan Mazari noted the similarity of the situation in 1971 by the manner in which the Pakistani Army dealt with the Bangla ‘miscreants’ in the then East Pakistan which became Bangladesh.
Amidst all these is the issue of Kalabagh-dam construction which is another reason for the Baloch unrest. But in this case, the Balochis were not alone. There were nation-wide strikes in Pakistan against the construction of this dam across Indus. While this will immensely benefit the agriculture-rich, upper riparian Punjab thus leaving the lower riparian provinces of Sindh and Balochistan high and dry. The situation calmed down when the General had to back down on this plan after assuring MQM’s exiled leader Altaf Hussain. We invite the reader to read excellent summary and on this situation from the The Economist.Pakistan initially accused India of supporting the ‘miscreants’. But Praveen Swami of the Frontline interviewed Balochi separatist leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and he clearly denies links to any foreign powers saying arms are easy to find in that region thanks to the United States’s ex-jihad against the Soviet Union. The General’s rhetoric has toned down since a report from Frederic Grare wrote for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace clearly ruled out any foreign-support. That report titled “Pakistan: the Resurgence of Baluch nationalism” (PDF) says, “Following the policies adopted by Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s, Pakistan’s government continues through its Ministry of Religious Affairs to encourage the setting up of madrassas in the province inorder to penetrate deeper into the ethnic Baluch areas stubbornly opposed to the mullahs.”
Further, Frederic Grare and Georges Perkovich in an article for the Wall Street Journal wrote that the Baloch leaders essentially see the Army as part of the Punjabi-dominated elite out to exploit them. They warned that postponing democratization will further agrravate the situation in creating civil war-like situation thus ultimately creating an independent Balochistan affecting regional stability (ed. read Iran).
Despite these warnings of instability and human rights violation, the situation is still highly tense with neither sides giving up. The Baloch rebels have captured videos of Army’s persistent aerial bombardment using figher jets and attack helicopters (Windows ASF). The rebels for their part keep attacking gas installations as recent as January 29. Some Balochi leaders have now called for international attention from the EU, G-8 and the UN calling for an end to the army operation. We'll be there to see how this will play out.
Cross-posted in Desicritics.org.
Comic book fans would very well remember the Asterix series in which the Gaulic hero time and again saves his small village from the Roman garrisons and goes to distant lands in search of adventure with his pal Obelix. We now present a real-life counter-hero and his misadventures aptly christened Pervix Meretricix™®© (Origin of the story here). He teams up with his best pal Jihadix and cause terror havoc everywhere in the world. They are also chums with Talibanix though they don’t accept it in public for fear of offending their masters the Americanix. To appreciate the comic nature of Meretricix, consider: