I am reminded of Neville Chamberlain, a British prime minister (his other claim to fame was his ever-present umbrella) returning to the UK from a conclave in Munich, where he had participated in appeasing Germany by giving away the Sudetenland. Chamberlain said: 'My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time... Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.'
He said this on September 30, 1938. Alas for him, on September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and two days later, Britain declared war on Germany. Famous last words, indeed.
But I am being unfair to poor Chamberlain. He honestly believed that he had achieved something for his country. Not so with the bigwigs of the UPA. It has been abundantly clear for a very long time that the so-called nuclear deal stinks to high heaven, and that interests wholly unrelated to India's energy needs are driving the deal. The UPA knows what they are getting into, and they have been lying continuously to the Indian people.
It would be unseemly for me to name names (not to mention unwise, given the propensity of the UPA to cry 'libel' at the drop of a hat -- fortunately, a New Jersey court just threw out a wholly frivolous case filed by overseas acolytes of the UPA, who I do hope will get slapped with large punitive damages), but circumstantial evidence suggests that Jaswant Singh was not far off the mark when he talked about American 'moles' high up in the Indian government.
The confidential letter from the US State Department to the House Foreign Relations Committee, as publicised by Representative Howard Berman, is refreshingly candid about the real facts behind the deal: To use pithy Americanisms, the Indians are being taken to the cleaners. Being sold a bill of goods. Led to the slaughter. Being totally sold snake-oil, with the active connivance of their leaders.
Perhaps the apt historical analogy is not Chamberlain, but the East India Company. Or better yet, the capitulation to China over Tibet. India gave away its substantial treaty rights in Tibet to China in return for... vague promises of brotherhood. Here India is giving away its hard-won nuclear deterrent, the one thing that prevents the Chinese from running totally rampant in Asia, in return for... honeyed words from the Americans about strategic partnership!
I exaggerate, of course. There must be more. Nehru, being naive, believed in the bhai-bhai thing with China. But today's leaders are hard-boiled, and are doing this for other, very good reasons. What these reasons are, we shall never know, notwithstanding the Right To Information Act. The Indian government is extremely good at obfuscation.
What is being celebrated as a Great Victory (over what I am not sure) at the NSG is a little puzzling. I hate to be the little boy who asked about the Emperor's new clothes, but what exactly is India getting? After all the huffing and puffing, India has now been given the privilege of spending enormous amounts of money -- absolute billions -- to buy nuclear fission reactors and uranium? This is a good thing? Let us remember that the NSG was set up in 1974 as a secret cabal to punish India for its first nuclear test.
There is an old proverb in Malayalam about spending good money to buy a dog that then proceeds to bite you. India is now going to buy all these dangerous fission reactors from the US and France and Japan and spend $30 billion to $40 billion to be left with the possibility of Australians and Americans holding the Damocles' Sword of a disruptions in uranium supplies over us? This is better than being held hostage by OPEC over fossil fuels?
And if all goes well, India will be left holding the bag for absolute mountains of extremely dangerous and long-lived (10,000 years, say) radioactive waste, which we will not be allowed to reprocess in case we might extract something useful out of it. Of course all the reactors and the radioactive waste must be making our friendly neighbourhood terrorists rub their hands with glee in anticipation. Did I mention something about giving someone a stick to beat you with?
I think it should be obvious by now that India has been coerced into de facto accession to the NPT, the CTBT, the FMCT, and all the other alphabet-soup treaties that were set up to keep India muzzled. America's non-proliferation ayatollahs, barring a last-minute reprieve like the US Congress voting down the 123 Agreement (I am tempted to chant 'Berman saranam, Markey saranam,' etc) have accomplished 'cap, rollback, and eliminate'.
The letter leaked by Berman, as well as the fact that Article 2 of the 123 Agreement explicitly states that 'national laws' (read: The Hyde Amendment, with the clever little Barack Obama Amendment -- yes, Virginia, Obama did get his fingers into this pie too) govern the 123 Agreement, clarify that India is at the mercy of any US administration that sees fit to unilaterally abrogate the thing. Remember Tarapur? There was a similar little artifice of domestic legislation that was used to weasel out of a binding international treaty. The 123 Agreement is really not worth the paper it's written on.
Let us note that of the other hold-outs to the NPT, nobody is putting any pressure on Israel to sign anything, and they are getting all the fuel they need from sugar-daddy America; and Pakistan gets everything, including their bombs and their missiles, from their main squeeze China, while minor sugar-daddy America beams indulgently.
The sad part is that none of this does a thing for the only issue that matters, India's energy security. While the rest of the world has, rightly, looked upon the nuclear deal as a non-proliferation issue, the propaganda experts in India have sold it to the gullible public as a way of gaining energy independence. Alas, this is not true at all.
Here are a few facts about energy. I am indebted to, among others, the Centre for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (STEP) in Bangalore for this information.
Present world energy use: 15 terawatt-years per year
Potential availability of energy from different sources (in terawatt-years) (Source: Harvard)
- Oil and Gas: 3000
- Coal: 5000
- Uranium (conventional reactors): 2000
- Uranium (breeder reactors): 2,000,000
- Solar: 30,000 (per year)
Do note that last two numbers. One, solar energy accessible per year far exceeds the sum energy available from fossil fuels and uranium-fission reactors in toto, thatis, by exhausting them. Two, breeder reactors can leverage thorium (turned into uranium-233) endlessly by creating more fuel than is exhausted, but the technology will take time.
Now, take a look at the amount of energy India generates, and how it is used up (Source: CSTEP and Lawrence Livermore Labs)
Total consumption: 5,721 billion kwh, of which: