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'What more could India want?'

Last updated on: March 09, 2006 23:35 IST

Michael Krepon is President Emeritus and Co-Founder of the Henry L Stimson Center and South Asia expert. The Stimson Center, founded in 1989, specializes in threat reduction and international security issues.

Krepon's areas of interest are South Asia and the Kashmir dispute, nuclear risk reduction, strategic arms control, missile defenses, and the utilization of confidence-building measures to alleviate tensions and promote reconciliation.

In an exclusive chat with rediff readers, Krepon says that "If this deal were about helping India's economy to grow -- but without helping India's nuclear arsenal to grow-- I would support it on Capitol Hill. Unfortunately (from my perspective), this deal is about both."

The transcript:


 Michael Krepon says, 
Ready, aim, fire!

ramananda asked, good morning Mr Krepon. Let's start with your reactions to the nuclear deal..good, bad, expected?
Michael Krepon answers, Ram: Many in the US were disapoointed with the result. This was the most benevolent US negotiation since the Lend Lease agreement in 1941, when FDR sought to help Great Britain fight the Nazis.
balaiitk asked, Will the Indo-US nuclear deal pass the Congress?
Michael Krepon answers, Very hard to say. There will be lots of questions. Concerns over nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism are paramount, and the administration's argumnent that this deal is a net plus for nonproliferation will not be persuasive.
indianpatriot asked, Sir, what does the stimson center plan to do about this deal? is it lobbying to stall/block it in Congress? how?
Michael Krepon answers, We don't lobby. We try to ask the right questions, and some people value our analysis.
sp asked, Hi,what does US gain with this deal?Where do u see china moving?
Michael Krepon answers, The Bush administration has placed a very large bet that prospective Indo-US cooperation will outweigh negative proliferation consequences.
hanud asked, Sir, Nuclear power is currently only a fraction of total power production in India. Even after 8 new reactors, it will still be a fraction. I don't understand what dent it will this US-India nuclear deal make in the global oil prices?
Michael Krepon answers, Nuclear power will help India to meet its domestic needs, but I agree with you that this is only a fraction of the solution to a very large problem.
balaiitk asked, India's background as a responsible nuclear nation must certainly be a great plus point to counter arguments related to nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism. How then can you use these terms to address the Indian nuclear state?
Michael Krepon answers, India has an admirable record with respect to export controls on the nuclear side. But this is only one fraction in a larger proliferation equation. India is also one of 17 states that has not signed the CTBT, one of four whose stockpile is growing, and one of three that is now producing fissile material for weapons. These, too, are important fractions in the proliferation equation.
Rajdeep Reddy asked, Hello Sir, There was an opinion artcile in the NYT on March 6th, titled "Iran's Best Friend", which outlined that the deal with India is fraught with danger for the non-proliferation regime. Kindly comment on that.
Michael Krepon answers, India and Iran are entirely different cases. But the timing as well as substance of the US-India deal make it harder to close ranks against Iran. And if the Nuclear Suppliers Group is weakened by the March 2nd deal, then the gates of nuclear commerce will be open to others.
Sabari asked, I feel India got fairly a good deal. What are the hidden agenda of US to concede too much(at least in US perspective) to India
Michael Krepon answers, Excellent question. Many in the US are asking this, too.
Gandhian asked, Sir,what happens if the deal fails in the US congress?
Michael Krepon answers, We move ahead steadily on other fronts-- defense cooperation, trade, investment, agriculture, public health cooperation, and a dozen other areas.
aaron asked, Dear Mr. Krepon what are your views about the likely impact of Indo-US N-Deal on the relationship between Russia and India.Do you think that the ongoing rivalry between US and Russia in central asia will force the russians to accomodate pakistan with a similar N-deal?
Michael Krepon answers, I see no adverse impacts on Indo-Russian relations as a result of the deal. Russian nuclear export interests are salivating at the prospect of doing deals with India and others if the consensus rule in the NSG is weakened or sundered.
ksatish asked, is there any problem face india for n-deal??
Michael Krepon answers, It appears that the GoI got all that it wanted from this deal. All future options are open, both with respect to bombs and electricity. India even got assured USG support for fuel if it resumes nuclear testing. What more could you possibly want?
qwerty asked, if the deal doesn pass thru the congress, Indian sentiments wud be badly hurt considering the hype created by the deal, ur take ?
Michael Krepon answers, Yes, if the deal goes down, there will be friction. Noone who supports vastly better relations between India and the US should have to choose between this welcome objective and a significant weakening of global standards against proliferation. This choice was completely avoidable. But if the Bush administration is correct that the bilateral relationship is being transformed -- and I think this is true -- then the relationship will overcome hurdles.
Abhi asked, hello Mr. Krepon, Was N-Deal Completely Advantage US ? US hardly does things in Complete favor of any other nation. Looks into thier Advantage more.. Is it the case with this Deal ?
Michael Krepon answers, Abhi: You are correct in most instances. But the Bush administration views India as an exceptional country. Apparently, the normal give and take of negotiations do not apply.
nuclearwinter asked, So, are you suggesting that it was purely economical motives that prompted Bush to go for this deal?
Michael Krepon answers, I don't think this was purely a case of profit overriding nonproliferation. The US nuclear industry is not well positioned to compete with foreign suppliers. Indeed, if I'm not mistaken, the division of Westinghouse that makes reactors has been sold to a foreign entity. President Bush is a man who holds fixed ideas. And he like to take bold steps, rather than to play at the margins. He has a closed-loop decision-making process, which tends to exclude cautionary voices. basic assumptions are not questioned. In this case, the fixed idea was that Indo-US cooperation would yield great dividends downstream. The basic assumption was that we could successfully engineer a one-time exception to the rules of global nuclear commerce. I believe this assumption is very questionable.
jaggi asked, why is US media potraying deal as solely in the benefit of india. And deal is what US president gave India into charity!
Michael Krepon answers, Because India got everything it wanted, and the US didn't force hard choices on New Delhi. This suggests problems ahead. This deal would have been far more defensible if it forced hard choices of electricity over bombs.
anilkumar asked, hello sir the npt act was made after the big five done their nuclear test and they have nuclear weapons at that time ,do you won't think the world has changed with in this 25 years and the laws has to be changed,i think this same npt will not work after 100 years ,at that time mew powers will come ,what the us is doing by going aginst iraq against UN may be the future powers may do on some other country,at 1960 everybody knows india has more nuck technolgy than china but the primeminister nehru was a peaceful man else the have may tested before NPT.iam not telling as a supporter of india,if u have the power we can dowahat we want,but getting these type of acts and bending the world to sign it.
Michael Krepon answers, Anilkumar, you are right that the world has changed, that space must be found for India, and the nonproliferation system must adapt to change. The hard part is to make changes that bring India under the tent without weakening the tent. It makes no sense to bring India in if the tent collapses.
ramananda asked, Mr Krepon, what do you think of Sumit Ganguly's assertion that the presence of nuclear weapons has actually been a stabilising influence on the subcontinent? In the sense that it has prevented many more possible conventional wars?
Michael Krepon answers, Ram: Academics are having an interesting debate on this. National leaders that must make hard choices in the heat of a nuclear-tinged crisis don't have the luxury of thinking that everything will be fine and dandy because both sides have the ability to incinerate each other's cities.
samir asked, is the deal really benefecial to india in the longer term
Michael Krepon answers, I can't see any down-side risks for India with the deal that has been struck. India may have to recalibrate if the Congress attaches conditions to the deal
jaggi asked, Michael, what are your researvations on this deal? And what will be the -ve impacts on US-India relation if the deal doesnt go through the US congress.
Michael Krepon answers, Jaggi: I have written about my reservations in The Hindu and elsewhere. You can find my analysis on Stimson's website -- www.stimson.org If this deal were about helping India's economy to grow -- but without helping India's nuclear arsenal to grow-- I would support it on Capitol Hill. Unfortunately (from my perspective), this deal is about both. I also think it is fatuous to think that the global rules of nuclear commerce will be changed for India alone. There is a consensus rule in the NSG. This rule has been a big help in constraining the profit motive and in protecting against unwise commercial transactions. This rule is jeoparized big time by the nuclear deal. To gain consensus, the US will have to make side deals, and side deals worry me. Alternatively, the consensus rule would be disregarded. This worries me, too. All of this takes the Bush administration way off course in the war against terrorism. The time spent on the nuclear deal should have been spent in preventing bomb blasts in Varanasi.
arjunk asked, How China is going to look at the new Nuclear deal and latest growing military relations betweeb India and America.
Michael Krepon answers, Beijing won't be pleased, and will be looking for company in the NSG. One of Beijing's counters will be to queue up a nuclear deal with Pakistan
ramkumar asked,  Why does the US refuse to recognise disarmament as a stated aim ? It is always more concerned about 'Non Proliferation'.
Michael Krepon answers, Does this have to be an either/or choice?
tks asked, Do you think its fair for the big 5 to have nuclear weapons and preach to the rest of the world you should not (NPT)
Michael Krepon answers, Nope
ramananda asked, thank you for answering my question. So where do you see the current India pakistan peace process going?
Michael Krepon answers, Small, positive steps get trumped by big explosions.
Peter1 asked, What if congress snubs India, and India revises its course and decides to be a bad boy like china and provides ready plutonium to Iran and vietnam?
Michael Krepon answers, As a responsible state with advanced nuclear technology, India will behave responsibly, whether the deal goes through or not. If India is not a responsible state, the Bush administration has no business making this deal.
iknowitall asked, DO you see India getting a UNSC permanent seat next? Will US support that?
Michael Krepon answers, I wish this debate were about India getting a permanent seat at the UN rather than a pass on its nuclear ambitions.
Abhi asked, Now It seems like China will have a N-Deal with Pakistan and US will be just a spectator as US has gone out of Internation Laws of NPT. DOn't you think That is dangerous for S E Asia Peace process ???
Michael Krepon answers, The proposed deal will have cascade effects with China and Pakistan. I personally do not believe that these effects will rise to my definition of an arms race, but it would have been better not to feed into the ambitions of those in all three countries who wish to ratchet up their stockpiles.
giri1 asked, i mean anyone who has currently nuke weapons have to declare that they wont FIRST USE NUKE WEAPONS. It will be a insurance for the ones who are thinking of getting one but can back off given this promise. wouldnt you agree?
Michael Krepon answers, No First Use is way better than first use. But an adversary can't count on this pledge, and will structure its nuclear arsenal accordingly.
santy asked, The NSG and NPT are far from being fair treaties and the P5 know it as well. Why don't you think of this deal as a stepping stone to reforms?
Michael Krepon answers, It could be a stepping stone in the demise of the nonproliferation system.
PPK asked, Hi Mr. Krepon, from US side whom should we give credit for the nuclear deal? Thanks
Michael Krepon answers, My sense is that you should start by thanking President Bush and Secretary of State Rice
Michael Krepon says, Only five more minutes... get those last minute slangs in before I sign off!

Abhi asked, Why did US not Recognize India as a Potential partner Prior to 2003.. and Now Suddently started Speaking in Favor of India..Do yo believe India's growing economy/Youth has attracted Americans towards india?? What is the main criteria Americans are leaning towards Indians ?
Michael Krepon answers, I believe that the turning point in this partnership came during the Kargil crisis. If I'm correct, then the shift occured primarily on the grounds of shared security interests rather than economics. Of course, both go together.
ramananda asked, Mr Krepon, a final question: You seriously think India got a better deal than it should have?
Michael Krepon answers, Can anyone seriously argue the contrary? Many thanks for the chat. Rediff is a great site. Best wishes, Michael
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