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The Rediff Special
'The nuclear deal was India's idea'
February 17, 2006
As vice-president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC, Dr George Perkovich oversees the entire research programme at the presitigious think-tank. But his personal research -- spanning over two decades -- focuses on nuclear issues, with a special focus on South Asia.
Among other things, he is the author of India's Nuclear Bomb, which is considered the definitive study on India's nuclear programme.
In a no-holds barred converation with readers on the proposed India-US nuclear deal on the Rediff Chat on February 16, he made it clear that the ball is firmly in India's court, and New Delhi would have to decide whether it wants 'to gain electricity for 10 cities or to produce 10 more bombs.'
For those of you who missed the chat, here is the transcript:
George Perkovich : Hi all, I'm ready..
ramananda : Good morning Dr Perkovich..do you endorse or oppose this nuclear deal? and why?
shankyemperor : Did the Indo-US nuclear deal have any say in how India voted against Iran at the IAEA??
RajRajat : Hi,Many in India accuse nonproliferationists such as yourself of hypocrisy. On the one hand, you say that the US-India agreement indirectly helps India increase its nuclear bomb fissile material capacity by freeing up Uranium. While this is a fair point, the people who raise this concern now never said anything when the US opened up nuclear trade with China without requiring China to state that it is stopping fissile material production. Do you think non prolfieration means some countries get help to make bombs while others cannot?
George Perkovich : I believe I have been more consistent and have since the early 1990s pushed as hard as I could personally for a moratorium on fissile material production, focusing heavily on China. But the general question is still important: the countries with nuclear weapon capabilities, now including India, must do much more to reduce double standards in the nuclear order. The US must lead the way in this regard, along with Russia and China, and we have done badly. But the clearest place to start is to get China to publicly commit to a moratorium on fissile material production outside of safeguards, and then for India to say it would follow suit if all other countries did too (meaning Pakistan, especially).
Diwaker : I would like to know where do you draw the line between the civilian and military facilities don't you think there should more deatailed study into before drawing lines
kanada : And it seems as if India will be left with no option but to succumb to US pressure
Gautam : Hello Dr. Perkovich isn't it true that the current US-Indo nuclear deal will severely hit our military capabilities?
shankyemperor : What is the stumbling block behind US Congress' approval to the nuclear deal? Is it that India's stature in the region will grow manifold once the deal is signed thus affecting US interests?
Manoj : Is this nuclear deal a step made by US to make India sign NPT?
RajRajat1 : To my earlier question you want China to publicly commit to a moratorium. So why haven't you and your colleagues articulated this view as strenuously as you oppose the July 18 deal? Free pass to China?
Raghotham : Dr. Perkovich, you have of course argued earlier that India does not have the attributes of a Great Power. But even you must surely agree that it is a rising power. My question is: will the US do any better than the British did in the late 19th and early 20th century with regard to how it treats rising powers and how it accommodates both the rising powers and itself into a new world order?
rakesh : You say "no one in the US government believes India will sign the NPT". I agree, but don't you think that the US are trying to impose the exact same conditions on India on this deal as a NPT signatory, without actually signiing one?
MyPrecious : Sir, Regarding the recently concluded session where Iran was asked to stop its so called "Nuke for peace" mission. Dont you think that even India once stood at the same point where India was defending itself for the Nuke Tests conducted saying that India has the sovereign right to have Nukes when all other "Developed Nations" possessed the same? The same argument can hold good for the Iran too. Now the US is dealing with India on the same terms. Is it possibility that US stance might change as time passes and once the sanctions,etc are done with, US starts renogotiates with Iran?
shankyemperor : Are thinktanks in the US concerned that if the nuclear deal is pushed through, Pakistan too may may have to be 'placated' in some way to maintain the balance of power???
pramood : Dear Perkovich, What is the US stand in Fissile Material(Weapon grade) reduction of its own inventory? There has been allegations that US increases its Fissile Material stock from Russian HEU under the camoflague of kilotonnes to Megawatts project.
vj1 : Either Mr Perkovich is extreamly slow in answering or someone at Rediff is playing fav. with the questions. Is it so?
rakesh : Thanks for your answer. Why then the condition of opening up the civilian nuclear facilities to UN inspectors anytime, anywhere.. something not even demanded from the NPT signatories?
Arjun : I have been reading thru this complete debate and I have only one feeling here. Why can't US just leave India alone on this issue instead of forcing it's views and decisions?
FMCOT : Why do you think N-aparthied era should continue where some get to keep "you-know-what" while others are restricted in the name of proliferation?
AKS : Given that the US has no clear separation of nuclear and civil military facilities (eg. military Tritium comes from Tennessee Valley Authority plants ), and given that the July 18 agreement calls for India to have the same rights and obligations as the US, how can there be double standards about civil-military reactor separation ? Shouldn't it be best left to India to decide, just as the US does ?
NareshRawal : Re-posting this question - The NPT nuclear powers hardly have a tiny fraction of their facilities under IAEA safeguards. Yet they partake in global Uranium and nuclear trade. Why should India put its facilities under more safeguards than the NPT-5?
kumar : Why shd there be a balance between India and Pakistan at all?? Do you believe in maintaining a balanece between Israel and Palastein? When it is more than obvious that Pakistan is a country which supports terrorism and never had or has a credible democracy, why shd India shd be looked always with reference to pakistan?
abhishek_mody : I sincerely feel that India must not and should not bow down to what the Anglo Saxon brigade in keen on forcing India to do.This is a colonial hangover. Our genuine partnership should be with countries who treat us as equal and not the `` colored`` slaves as they have thought us to be. I am in the US and have no fear in admitting that I hate the US policies and double talk in global affairs, if they had stuck firmly with wiping out terrorism which I think they should, regardless of the nuclear deal their interests should be the military , economic and cultural upliftment of India.
MyPrecious : Sir, Thanks for answering my previous question. Though I might differ in some points raised. Will put them off for now. My second question would be. Was India lured/bullied by US to vote in its favour regarding the Iran's issue? Ofcourse I can expect the diplomatic answer! I dont think anybody can believe that it wasn't the case. As one of the US official has gone on record that India has to go with the US or against the US and if against there will be serious repurcurssions in the Indo-US Nuke Deal (which ofcourse hasn't gone any further!!). Please comment.Thanks!
Nagendra : Following up, what you are saying is that the nuclear order is based on negotiating power, isn't it? Perhaps India should prolferate and use it as a card?
FMCT : Whatz in it for you in this chat? Of course you are not a saint to spent time with unknown ppl on the net? Are you tring to guage public resistance for your next policy document? I am DAMN curious.
srdude : Dr. Perkovich: do you feel unable to answer my question about non-proliferation experts' double standards?
kumar : Thanks for your answer reg India vis a vis Pak. Apart from this nuclear deal, still it is a fact that US has never told pakistan in plain words ''Stop Terrorism against any country including India, otherwise you are going to face consequences'' Instead, US always tries to make things seem as if both are in same plane except for this nuclear deal, and we are very happy abt it. And Pakistan goes ahead with this menace fully knowing that as long as they act as if they are helping you abt Afganistan, you are not going to bother abt what they do against India. Will it ever change? I hope it will!
Sushant : If India wants to place its nuclear breeder program under military establishment, US would allow it?
George Perkovich : FOLKS, thanks for the chat. I hope it was a bit useful. Best wishes, George
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