INDIANS RESPOND TO TOM FRIEDMAN ON NUCLEAR DEAL
According to a report filed by in Aziz Haniffa, the Bush administration on Thursday submitted a draft proposal to the Congressional leadership in both the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate and the International Relations Committee of House in the hope that it will help shape legislation that can be formulated to envisage the passage of the US-India civilian nuclear agreement reached by President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on March 2 in New Delhi.
In"Letting India in the Club?" Tom Friedman attacked the deal. Ram send me 5 Indian rejoinders which I thought worth posting. As I have written previously, I think India, unlike UAE, is a real ally and a country worthy of our alliance.
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
India is a country that had me at hello. Call me biased, but I have a soft spot for countries of one billion people, speaking a hundred different languages and practicing a variety of religions, whose people hold regular free and fair elections and, despite massive poverty, still produce generations of doctors and engineers who help to make the world a more productive and peaceful place. Sure, as today’s bombings in India illustrate, it has its problems — but it is not Iraq. It is a beacon of tolerance and stability.
So I applaud President Bush’s desire to form a deeper partnership with India. There is only one thing I would not do for that cause: endorse — in its current form — the nuclear arms deal that the Bush team just cut with New Delhi. I am all for finding a creative way to bring India into the world’s nuclear family. India deserves to be treated differently than Iran. But we can’t do it in a way that could melt down the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and foster a nuclear arms race in South Asia.
What’s the problem? India has never signed the N.P.T., which is the international legal framework that limited the world’s nuclear club to the U.S., China, Russia, Britain and France. For decades, U.S. policy has been very consistent: we do not sell civilian nuclear technology to any country that has not signed the N.P.T. And since that included India, India could never buy reactors, even for its civilian power needs, from America.
But with India eager to buy U.S. nuclear technology, and the U.S. eager to build India into an economic and geostrategic counterweight to China, the Bush team wanted — rightly — to find a way to get India out of the corner it put itself in when it first set off a nuclear blast in 1974. Under the Bush-India deal, India would designate 14 of its 22 nuclear power reactors as "civilian," to be put under international safeguards, leaving the other 8 free from inspections and able to produce as much bomb-grade plutonium as India wanted. In return, U.S. companies would be able to sell India civilian-use nuclear reactors and technology.
This is a troubling deal for two reasons. First, it could only undermine the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Yes, I know, the Bush team doesn’t believe in treaties and says the treaty isn’t restraining the rogues anyway. But this treaty is the legal basis by which we have been able to build coalitions against the nuclear rogues to restrain them from spreading W.M.D. One of the key legal bases for isolating Saddam Hussein was that he’d violated the N.P.T., which Iraq had signed. The legal basis by which we are building a coalition against Iran’s going nuclear is the N.P.T. Under the N.P.T., we board ships suspected of carrying W.M.D. Japan, Brazil and Argentina all chose to forgo nuclear weapons to gain access to foreign nuclear technology by abiding by the N.P.T. What are they going to think if India gets a free pass?
What should we have done? Bob Einhorn, who has worked on nonproliferation for every administration since Nixon’s, has the right idea: Tell India that it can have this deal — provided it does something hard that would clearly reinforce the global nonproliferation regime. And that would be halting all production of weapons-grade material, thereby capping India’s stockpile of nuclear bomb ingredients where it is. That could be a lever to get Pakistan to do the same. The fewer bomb-making materials around, the less likely it is for any to fall into the hands of terrorists.
"The Bush administration proposed such a production cutoff in negotiations, but dropped the idea when India balked," Mr. Einhorn said. "India says it is willing to adopt the same responsibilities and practices as the other nuclear powers. It so happens that the five original nuclear powers — U.S., U.K., France, Russia and China — have all stopped producing fissile material for weapons. If we are going to bring India into the club, it should do so as well."
India says it needs to keep producing nuclear material to have a more credible deterrent. I can’t judge that. All I know is that we should not go ahead with this deal until India is ready to halt its production of weapons-grade material.
"The problem the Bush administration faces in selling the nuclear deal is not, as the president has said, that ’some people just don’t want to change’ or that they are focused on outdated concerns," Mr. Einhorn argued. "People are willing to change. They want to support the president’s India initiative, even modify longstanding policies. But they want to do it in a way that also serves an objective that is hardly outdated: preventing nuclear proliferation."
REJOINDER # 1 by India’s strategic affairs guru, K Subrahmanyam (To be published soon)
Thomas Friedman of the New York Times is known in this country as a great friend and admirer of our democracy and a strong advocate of outsourcing of tasks related to Information Technology to India. Therefore one regrets to find he chose to accept the biased information supplied by a fellow American, the former Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control and Disarmament, Robert Einhorn, instead of outsourcing his query to India and then basing his advice on the information gathered thereby.. He wants India to stop further fissile materials production in order to get exceptionalisation from the Nonproliferation Treaty.This view is based on Einhorn’s information that all nuclear powers, including China have stopped fissile materiala production. Robert Einhorn served in the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) from 1972 to 1984, in the Policy Planning Staff of the State Department from 1986-92, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State1992-99 and Assistant Secretary of State from 1999-2000.
It was during his tenure in ACDA, China concluded its treaty with Z. A. Bhutto in June 1976 to proliferate nuclear weapons to Pakistan. The US formally agreed to look away from this proliferation in 1982, during the talks between the Pakistani delegation led by Agha Shahi and US Secretary of State, Alexander Haig. During this period Dr. A. Q. Khan dealt with China and obtained the Chinese design of the bomb. According to the very recent disclosures of the Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers, CIA interceded twice in 1976 and 1985 with the Dutch government to save Dr. A. Q. Khan from prosecution. The Pakistanis assembled their bomb in 1987 and the US delayed acknowledging Pakistani bomb-making till 1990.
The Chinese supplied M-9 and M-11 missiles to Pakistan from late 80s. Though Pakistani government acknowledged the receipt of the missiles in 1983 in its Senate, the Clinton Administration (with Robert Einhorn as Deputy Assistant Secretary) maintained for seven long years, till a couple of months before Clinton demitted office, that the State Department was yet to make a determination on the receipt of Chinese missiles in Pakistan. In 1994 the transfer of 5000 ring magnets to sustain the Pakistani centrifuge operations took place from China . This was a deliberate violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty and yet the US readily accepted the Chinese explanation that this transaction was without the permission of Chinese Central Government.
From 1987 onwards, Dr. A. Q. Khan had initiated his proliferation to Iran. Gen. Aslam Beg, the Pakistani Army Chief, at that time informed two Assistant Secretaries of State, Harry Rowan and Henri Sokolski, that Pakistan would be compelled to share nuclear technology with Iran in view of US sanctions on Islamabad.. Dr. A. Q. Khan’s proliferation to Iran continued from 1987 – 2002 and during this period Robert Einhorn was on watch in the State Department on arms control and nuclear proliferation. China also supplied equipment and materials to Iran for its nuclear weapons programme. The Chinese drawings on bomb design were recovered from Libya and till today there is no explanation from the Chinese. While the US has conveyed its displeasure to Pakistan on its refusal to make available Dr. A. Q. Khan for interrogation no one has raised the issue of asking the Chinese to explain their proliferation.. China continues to construct two nuclear power reactors in Pakistan. In India there are concerns that under the cover of reactor construction China continues its proliferation to Pakistan.
Given this history, nuclear proliferation Ayatollahs like Robert Einhorn, Henri Sokolski, Harry Rowan, Strobe Talbott and the entire Clinton Administration command very little credibility in India. If China had stopped its fissile material production,as Einhorn maintains , why does it not make a formal declaration or join in initiating discussions on concluding the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty? Most of these Ayatollahs have spent a lifetime shielding China and Pakistan and finding excuses for the tolerant attitude of past US Administrations for the most blatant proliferation campaign by China-Pakistan axis.
Even according to the most critical estimate by US Strategic community, India over the last 16 years has built up around 95-100 warheads – approximately 5-6 weapons per year. India at that stage was not bound by the norms of Nonproliferation Treaty and had all its indigenous reactors out of safeguards. Now India will be in the nonproliferation regime, though not as a member of NPT, and India is keen on cultivating the goodwill of all friendly nuclear powers. The world today is a balance of power in which prospects of violent conflict among major nations are becoming ever rarer. But India adjoins a failing state, an epicenter of terrorism which has a live proliferation link with China. .
India lives in a dangerous neighborhood and has to sustain its democracy in a region where there are major non-democratic states that have a record of proliferation over the last two decades. In such circumstances the credible minimum deterrent of India should not lose its credibility. The pace of build-up of minimum deterrent by India till now has been very restrained in spite of frequent Pakistani provocative testing of its nuclear-capable missiles obtained from China and North Korea.
Thomas Friedman shoud obtain a detailed account of US policy towards proliferation from China to Pakistan and through it to Iran, Libya and North Korea from those who were in charge and come to hardheaded conclusions. China does not acknowledge that it has stopped fissile material production but is able to mobilize enough American nuclear Ayatollahs to proclaim to the world its nuclear virtues. There is a Hindi proverb, which fits this context. After eating one hundred mice the cat went on its Hajj pilgrimage.
REJOINDER # 2 by Anupam Srivastava, Director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Trade & Security, University of Georgia (E-mail to me).
Friedman has mixed the arguments -- not surprising because he’s not a domain expert. And is relying on Einhorn -- whom I’ve known for years -- who’s also making a selective and biased argument.
Here are the problems/issues:
1. Friedman opens by saying India should join the NPT. And ends by saying India should stop fissile material production. But how does stopping fissile production make India join the NPT? Can India join as a non-nuclear weapon state (NNWS)? No. Can NPT be amended to make India join as a NWS? No. That’s why there’s been this stalemate for 30 years. And the Bush Deal found a way out of it -- by not formally recognizing India’s nuclear weapons capability -- simply "separating" it from the civilian complex and making inernational particiption in it possible.
2. A common mistake: NPT DOES NOT prohibit civil nuclear trade with a non-member or even a NNWS. It simply says recipient country’s facility in which the assistance is going must be placed under safeguards -- which will happen under the N deal.
3. FMCT: China has NOT stopped fissile materials production, nor confirmed it will do so -- has simply said it will sign/join the FMCT when it’s ready -- which is exactly what India has also said. Both know that it will be 3 years or more before FMCT is finally negotiated at the CD in Geneva.
4. By then, India should have enough weapons grade fissile material. That is also why they insisted to keep FBRs in the weapons complex, and build additional FBR facilities on the civilian side -- so as to participate in global Nuclear R&D and supply initiatives (GNEP, Gen IV etc)
So, sadly, Friedman is wrong on this one -- probably because he has been coached by people with a vested interest.
Hope this clarifies the issues involved.
REJOINDER # 3 by Ron Somers, President, United States-India Business Council
To the Editor:
The Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) does not prohibit the sharing of civilian nuclear technology with India, contrary to Thomas Friedman’s insinuation.
In fact, the NPT encourages nuclear technology’s peaceful use, and embracing India in this regard will actually advance the NPT’s objectives.
President Bush’s and Prime Minister Singh’s landmark agreement promotes peaceful use of civilian nuclear technology, while preventing diversion of civilian technology to military use. This explains Nobel laureate Mohammed El-Baradei’s unequivocal support of the U.S.-India civilian nuclear initiative.
For the record, the United States has a civilian nuclear sharing agreement with nuclear-armed China. Mr. Friedman fails to explain why India, with a spotless non-proliferation record and strategic partner of the United States, should be treated less favorably than China. Moreover, unlike Iran or North Korea, India has never violated the NPT.
The worry that Japan, Brazil, or Argentina might renounce their adherence to the NPT because of U.S. civilian nuclear cooperation with India is fanciful. None of the three or any other NPT party has uttered a syllable suggesting such nuclear adventurism is afoot because of the U.S.-India civilian nuclear initiative.
As regards a fissile material cut-off, India is committed to negotiating this by international treaty that would apply evenhandedly throughout the globe.
India is sandwiched between nuclear-armed Pakistan and China. It cannot be expected to compromise its national security anymore than was the United States when confronted with Soviet missiles in Cuba.
To make fissile material cut-off the pre-condition to India joining the nuclear club is equivalent to killing the deal, and Thomas Friedman knows this. If this deal fails, India will remain outside IAEA safeguards, the world will be less safe, and the budding strategic partnership between the United States and democratic India will be stillborn.
Fifty-four per cent (54%) of India’s population is under the age of 25; this translates to 600 million young Indians who were not even born at the time of the signing of the NPT. President Bush has it right engaging India in its development of energy security. America’s involvement will ensure transfer of international best practices and greater safety standards, while stemming global warming – with the indirect benefit of spurring job creation in India and here at home.
Ignoring 1/5th the world’s population that supports the world’s largest democracy, rule of law, and which embraces a vibrant and free press, secular values, and is aligned with the U.S. on numerous international geopolitical challenges, would prove a Himalayan blunder that belongs to the round-world thinking that we had hoped Thomas Friedman and others have outgrown
Ron Somers, President United States-India Business Council, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 1615 H Street NW Washington, DC 20062, 202-463-5626
REJOINDER # 4 by Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Foreign Affairs Editor of THE HINDUSTAN TIMES, New Delhi
The key problems with Friedman’s piece.
1. Seems to have forgotten that India didn’t sign the NPT because it essentially gave India a stark choice: if you want access to civilian nuclear technology than you must surrender your nuclear arsenal. He smartly leaves out that the NPT would have required India to unilaterally disarm.
He quotes Bob Einhorn as urging that if India wants to be a nuclear power it should do what they do and apply a fissile material freeze. Two subpoints here:
2. India has accepted strictures on its nuclear policy that the five nuclear powers do not: Safeguards on nuclear facilities are in perpetuity, the facilities cannot switch from nuclear to civilian and back. The deal is not one of perfect reciprocity.
3. He claims China has agreed to a fissile material freeze. This is highly contentious. Einhorn himself was asked in a closed door conference to provide any shred of evidence to prove this claim. He could not. There has been no official statement by China to this effect. When Einhorn was in the Clinton Administration he told Indian journalists that Pakistan was on the verge of overtaking India in terms of weapons grade plutonium production. Knowing this, it is remarkable he feels India should freeze its production at this point.
4. Finally, Friedman completely fails to understand how important the nuclear deal is to wiping out the deep institutional distrust of the US that exists in New Delhi. To say "I support Bush’s new policy on India" and then say "but I oppose the nuclear deal" is an oxymoron.
Friedman seems to have only one source, Einhorn -- a nonproliferation hawk.
The column only proves the axiom in journalism that a one-source story is almost sure to be erroneous.
REJOINDER # 5 by foreign policy specialist Indrani Bagchi of THE TIMES OF INDIA, NEW DELHI (
I think Tom Friedman needs some reality checks in this world. It also shows that no matter how much he says he likes india, he cannot possibly make Bob Einhorn his non-proliferation guru. Einhorn is the kind who is bloody-minded enough to say India should cap its fissile material, while not having the balls to get China or Pakistan to do the same. Einhorn in a conversation with me in 1999 actually said that Pakistan (then) had more fissile material than India. Clearly, if he knew it, so did the Indian establishment. But since then, India has not made a push to ratchet up its own fissile materials production __ which ought to say something about India. Something that ayatollahs like Einhorn will never realise.
My disappointment with Friedman on this issue is profound. at least I would have expected him to think independently for himself rather than blindly be PR for Einhorn. And to think independently, one has to reorient one’s mind from the round world to the flat. and Friedman has leagues to go before that happens.
Letting India in the Club?
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thebhc - 3/17/2006
While reading these rejoinders has illuminating, I am somewhat surprised to see the universal disappointment with Freidman's lack of expertise and cherry-picked information on this subject. The man is reknowned for being inexpert and for doing just this very thing on every subject.
I recommend Why America's Top Pundit's Are Wrong,Gusterson & Besteman (2004), for an appropriate critque of Freidman's willfully inept opinionating.
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