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N-deal good for US: Vinod Khosla
June 29, 2006 19:31 IST
'A nuclear hand of friendship.'
That is the title of an editorial in the The Wall Street Journal by Vinod Khosla, one of the most successful and influential venture capitalists in the Silicon Valley.
In his article, Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems and now a partner of Khosla Ventures, argues that the nuclear deal with India is good for the United States, and cites five reasons: 'It enhances safeguards, benefits US geopolitical interests, protects the environment, boosts the American economy and rewards good international citizenship and international compliance.'
According to Khosla, 'Countries perched under protective nuclear-guarantee umbrellas (such as Japan or Australia), or those facing no nuclear threats, are more sanctimonious in voicing their concerns.'
Flanked by 'two nondemocratic nuclear powers' which have engaged in wars with India, 'democratically elected politicians in India would be committing political suicide' if they agreed to put all their reactors under international safeguards, he says in the Wall Street Journal article.
Yet India has taken 'proactive steps,' like agreeing 'to develop an Additional Protocol with the IAEA, implement a WMD Act, implement a robust national export-control system, and to adhere to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) guidelines,' he says.
It also has 'an exemplary nonproliferation record, despite operating outside the global nonproliferation regime for over 30 years, and has never violated any NPT terms -- unlike China, which supplied nuclear technology to Pakistan; and France, that supplied fuel to India.'
'Can we really ask India to forgo nuclear defense in the face of nuclear-armed neighbors on the dubious grounds that the cutoff date to be recognized as a nuclear power under the NPT was 1967, seven years before India's first nuclear test (in 1974)?' he asks.
As for geopolitics, 'India is a unique counterbalance in the Asian region and shares America's two major geopolitical challenges -- Islam and the rise of China. It has the GDP growth, population, democratic norms and technical expertise to counter any Chinese onslaught. Also unique is India's lack of wider foreign or extra-regional ambitions. The country is a steady hand in an Asian region growing at a rate that will dwarf Europe in the next 50 years. We need friends in India,' writes Khosla.
According to him, if 'India does not build nuclear plants, it will build 60,000 MW of coal plants using its dirty coal -- an environmental disaster that will spew greenhouse gases and pollutants for the next 50 years.'
'Should India choose coal, carbon emission and acid rain issues would encounter a dramatic setback. No third choice exists for India -- at least none with any possibility of domestic acceptance,' he says.
On the economic front, 'rejecting this agreement would conceivably set back that trust by 20 years, irreparably damaging American interests in the region,' he said.
Conversely, 'Congressional ratification will leave India needing to import around 60,000 MW of coal plants or nuclear-power generating capacity. American companies would get a major part of this multibillion dollar business. Imports could exceed $50 billion, creating an estimated 50,000 jobs in America. A secondary effect would be continued economic growth in India. The Indian market's demand for capital and consumer goods would expand rapidly, creating further opportunities for American companies.'
Noting that Americans have always been 'pragmatists first, he says that 'we must recognize that India, like Israel, has very good regional and national defense reasons for not signing the current form of the NPT. Membership of the nuclear club should not hang on the arbitrary test of India having to have conducted the nuclear tests prior to 1967.'
This agreement provides an elegant solution to bring important global powers like India within the international framework,' Khosla concludes in the Wall Street Journal column.