An IDC Analysis


New Delhi, 09 November 2005

The Institute of Defence Studies & Analyses (IDSA) staged a coup of sorts last month when Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran agreed to speak to a select audience and made a "policy statement on India's Nuclear Policy", reportedly at the instance of Ms Arundhati Ghose, India's former ambassador in the UN. Normally Foreign Secretaries shy away from discussing nuclear policy and hence this was a treat and the hall was full with India's top analysts, nuclear scientists and senior officers of the Armed Forces, especially the Navy. 

The seminal talk was held at the India Habitat Centre under the aegis of the Institute of Defence Studies & Analyses. IDSA now finally has a new Director N S Sisodia, an ex- Harvard trained bureaucrat who had served in the MOD and NSC, when Mr Brajesh Misra was the NSA. The new Director comes with good insides of the policies of the Government, as he was the No 3 man in the NSA secretariat when the Kargil report was produced so swiftly. As a retired IAS Secretary he has good access to the ruling bureaucrats, which in India can be a great asset, even in today's days of liberalisation.

The Foreign Secretary's brilliant speech was variously reported in the media. The gist of his speech gave a background of past nuclear policies of the Government and how despite espousing nuclear disarmament, India was forced to go nuclear for reasons he listed. Then he went on to prove that India was a very responsible nuclear power and needed to be recognised as such. The deal with USA stipulated that India would look to the USA to provide nuclear technology and convince the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to do likewise. The onus was on USA and President Bush. Mr Saran made the deal sound simple but the eagle-eyed Ms Arundhati in the audience questioned him about India's plans to separate India's military and civilian nuclear facilities, about which he had been silent 末 she had heard that there was no such road map. The Foreign Secretary agreed that there was no road map about a very crucial aspect and surprisingly he hinted that the ball was in USA's court 末 which actually meant that it was in the hands of the US Congress and Bush to act first on their side of the deal.

The US蜂ndia nuclear deal faced some opposition in the US Congress and Condelezza Rice and Bush were doing their utmost to woo them. The debate in Congress was delayed. In any case media reported the deal was hurriedly finalised and presented to Bush and Manmohan Singh 末 after some last minute overnight work by officials which included India's NSA too. Hence several details had been left for later and here emerges the Catch 22 situation. If India begins to separate civilian and military facilities at considerable cost and the US Congress does not pass the needed laws 末 India would be the loser. If USA passes all the needed laws and India drags its feet on separation 末 the US may have to go along and of course other nations would want similar arrangements.

Therefore to learn that the official statement was to the effect that there was no road map for separation of military and civilian nuclear facilities, which are deeply intertwined in India, was surprising to say the least. It is only after separation that IAEA can have inspection rights on the civil nuclear facilities. We link this with India's stand on Iran, which is smarting at the special treatment being given to India. Unlike India, Iran was a signatory to the NPT like North Korea. However, USA treated North Korea with kid gloves as it had the Bomb but Iran was only nearing it 末 and USA was hell bent to stop it. Japan was also silently burning about the Indo剖S deal and the new Japanese Defence Minister was charged with the task to remodel Japan's Self Defence policy, which was totally in the grip of USA and which prohibited Japan to achieve attack capabilities or to export arms. The situation was very interesting and even the beleaguered Natwar Singh made some interesting premature comments on India's stand on Iran's nuclear options. 

Speaking to experts on how India could separate the facilities, the answers were invariably that the Government had little choice except to make either Tarapur, (plutonium reprocessing facility) or BARC (storage of nuclear plutonium cores and thermo nuclear research) into a military facility, and then duplicate the needed appropriate facility at that site for civilian use. It would be suicidal for the scientific community if both were made civilian facilities and to make entirely new facilities for the military, as this would be prohibitively expensive and time consuming. Thus one duplication may have to be carried out, if India was to keep its side of the bargain, which may be definitely advantageous to us. This would solve the immediate problem near Mumbai.

Most experts believed that the "Iyengar Village" as it is called near Mysore, where an uranium enrichment facility was situated, would have to be made a named military facility. That only left the decision about Kalapkkam where the ATV uranium nuclear reactor is tested and which houses the experimental fast breeder reactor. Experts would also have to decide whether the SBS shipbuilding facility set up at Visakhapatnam for the ATV nuclear submarine construction, could be expanded for the role that Kalpakkam plays for the Navy, or perhaps Kalpakkam may be broken into two if that was possible. Little is published on this. 

We offer this analysis for comments as some US Congressmen went ballistic and were not keen to see legislative changes to their laws which at present restrict nuclear technology transfers, till India separates its facilities. This burst came soon after the Foreign Secretary's speech and some congressmen even said, "It seems Indians know things about the nuclear deal that we in Congress don't."

USA now appears to be sounding India out officially on the lines that this analysis suggests, and probably Mr K Subrahmanyam India's expert on nuclear matters and the NSA and other experts would assist the Government in the task ahead. However it was reported, but not confirmed that the military was not involved in any of the sites and probably only some concerned Service Chiefs and the SFC had seen how the cores are stored and readied 末 as they wanted some assurance during OP Parakaram. President Musharraf had then hinted indirectly that Pakistan was ready to use its nuclear arsenal if its space/territory was transgressed or its integrity was threatened. Hence if separation was contemplated the Military may have to get more involved and in India such action is normally swift and good, when Indians are forced with few choices before them. It may even hasten the long awaited appointment of a CDS to really take charge of the nuclear second strike capability and activate the Strategic Force Commander under him.

A news item datelined 8 Nov is appended below, as it supports our analysis. A statement made by Arundhati Ghose in 2001 on CTBT is also appended, to show how times have changed India is now viewed as a power in the making both militarily and economically to be given discriminatory treatment. Pakistan is bound to ask for the same at some point of time.

Nuclear Deal Onus On India: Former US Official

New Delhi November 08, 2005

The success of the India剖S nuclear deal lies in India fulfilling its commitment to separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities as the US Congress is "pretty sceptical" about it, an influential American official said Tuesday. "Once India takes steps to separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities, President (George W.) Bush will be in a position to go to Congress, which at the moment is pretty skeptical about the deal," said former US secretary of Defence William S. Cohen.

Cohen, here as part of a US-India Business Council delegation, was speaking at a seminar on 'Implementing the US蜂ndia strategic partnership'.

According to Cohen, "To the extent India moves to separate its facilities and to allow IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspection, the president can persuade Congress. It will not be easy but there are people in Congress who will listen to him and support him."

The landmark India剖S civil nuclear energy deal that entails changes in US laws and guidelines of the influential Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was signed during the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US on July 18.

Under the deal, India is to separate its nuclear and military facilities and open its civilian facilities for IAEA safeguards.

Ms Arundhati Ghose Quoted in 2001 in a Media Report

Former Indian ambassador to the UN, Ms Arundhati Ghose, had quite forcefully told the UN-Sponsored Committee on Disarmament that India would never become party to a discriminatory treaty: "Not now, not ever." Pakistan's position, hitherto, was that it would not sign the CTBT as long as India did not do so. There was, therefore, never any real basis for Pakistan's opposition to the CTBT.

The military in Pakistan, which has always retained exclusive control of the nuclear weapons programme, and has always soundly slapped any civilian wrist that has sought to move to control the nuclear button, has used the privilege to extend its own sphere of influence and "strategic depth". The nuclear weapons programme was initiated by former Pakistani prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who exhorted his people to "eat grass but build the bomb". Bhutto would have found it amazing had he lived, to see how prophetic his words have turned out to be. Pakistan is close to becoming a "failed state" as a result of its militaristic ambitions to compete with India.

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