Crisis India-Pakistan:
Achtergrondinformatie, analyse en nieuws
uit de Indiase, Pakistaanse en internationale media.


Arms Control Today, January/February 2006

Wrong Ends, Means, and Needs:

Behind the U.S. Nuclear Deal With India

Zia Mian and M.V. Ramana

President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh issued a joint statement on July 18, 2005, laying the grounds for the resumption of full U.S. and international nuclear aid to India. Such international support was key to India developing its nuclear infrastructure and capabilities and was essentially stopped after India's 1974 nuclear weapons test. India's subsequent refusal to give up its nuclear weapons and sign the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) has kept it largely outside the system of regulated transfer, trade, and monitoring of nuclear technology that has been developed over the last three decades.
The July agreement requires the United States to amend its own laws and policies on nuclear technology transfer and to work for changes in international controls on the supply of nuclear fuel and technology so as to allow "full civil nuclear energy cooperation and trade with India." In exchange, India's government would identify and separate civilian nuclear facilities and programs from its nuclear weapons complex and volunteer these civilian facilities for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection and safeguarding. Yet, as they consider the deal and ways to transform its broad framework into legal realities, political elites in each country have ignored some crucial issues.
Policy analysts in the United States have debated the wisdom of the deal.[1] This debate has been rather narrow, confined to proliferation policy experts and a few interested members of Congress, and largely focused on the lack of specific details with regard to the deal, the order of the various steps to be taken by the respective governments, and the potential consequences for U.S. nonproliferation policy.[2] The larger policy context of a long-standing effort to co-opt India as a U.S. client and so sustain and strengthen U.S. power, especially with regard to China, has gone unchallenged. There is also little recognition of how the agreement could allow India to expand its nuclear arsenal.
The deal has incited a wider and more intense debate in India on questions of national security, sovereignty, development, and democracy. Some would like to see as few constraints as possible on increasing the future capacity of India's nuclear weapons complex, and others question the extent to which nuclear energy can help meet India's energy needs. Despite the many claims that the social, economic, and political well-being of the people of India will be enhanced by this deal, there has been little attention paid to the issue of whether India needs nuclear weapons at all, the costly failures of the Indian nuclear energy enterprise, and the possible harm for the people of India from a continued expansion of the nuclear complex.
[. . .].



Himal South Asian, January 2006

Interview with Tariq Ali

Subindra Bogati

Tariq Ali, editor of the New Left Review, is a leading intellectual and a veteran political activist. A forceful critic of imperialism, religious fundamentalism and, in recent times, the 'war on terror', Ali has consistently sought to expose structures of power and dominance. He has written over a dozen books including, Can Pakistan survive, The Nehrus and the Gandhis, Pakistan: Military rule or people’s power, The Clash of Fundamentalism, Bush in Babylon: The Recolonisation of Iraq.
The grandson of a prominent politician of Punjab, Ali became interested in public issues early in life. Banned from participating in student politics in 1960s by the Pakistani military dictatorship, he moved to Britain to study politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford. His interest in political activism grew and, in 1965, he was elected the president of the Oxford University Students' Union. Three years later, Ali led a massive protest march in central London to oppose the American intervention in Vietnam.
With his continuing opposition to ‘global imperialism,’ Ali remains the most prominent figure of the anti-war movement in Britain. He is the vice-president of the Stop the War Coalition, whose call for protests prior to the Iraq invasion saw more than one and half million people on the streets of London. This was the biggest demonstration in the history of Britain.
Ali’s recent book Rough Music: Blair/Bombs/Baghdad/London/Terror was written in response to the political crisis in Britain following the Iraq war and the July terror attacks in London. With three of the four bombers of Pakistani descent, Britain's 1.6 million Muslims, of which two-thirds are of Southasian origin, have increasingly become the focus of political discourse - their loyalties under the scanner, their rights curbed.
Tariq Ali spoke to Subindra Bogati at his London residence about a range of issues including repercussions of the London bombings, the Iraq war and resistance, Iran, and the Kashmir issue.

Persons of Pakistani descent are believed to have been involved in the carnage. What will be the repercussion on Islam and Muslims of Southasian origin?
Well, I don’t think the London bombing has too much to do with Islam. They were carried out by young Muslims. As one of the suspects who was arrested in Italy confessed, when they were thinking about actions like this, they were not reading the Holy Quran or theology but were watching the tapes of what Americans had done to the Iraqi town of Fallujah. And they were watching the deaths of innocents in Iraq brought about by the result of the British and American occupation in Iraq. That is what motivated them.
Everyone knows the London bombings were a direct result of Blair’s decision to go to war in Iraq. Blair’s re-election in Britain made these young people completely desperate and crazy. They carried out this act of senseless carnage to show their anger and ended up taking the lives of many innocent civilians as well as their own.
After 9/11 and London bombings, some Western commentators and scholars are arguing that Islam as a religion is fundamentalist. The notion that there is a problem within Islam, I find unacceptable. The real problem is with groups that US worked with, bred and cared for, and broke with after the first Gulf War. Of course, I totally disagree with Osama Bin Laden and others like him. You have to study what they say. And what they say is their fight with United States began after America sent troops to occupy Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War. That is when the problem began. So, it is a political problem. They use Islamic theology and Islamic teachings as a mask to fulfill their political aims.

How will the violent and non-violent resistance in Iraq affect the future of the US occupation?
First and foremost, it is the armed resistance that has made the occupation untenable. If there had been no resistance to the occupation of a sovereign independent Arab country, the West would have got a big victory and probably gone on to invade other countries, or used the occupation of Iraq as a pressure mechanism to bring about regime change elsewhere. That has failed. Then, you have growing political resistance by trade unionists, by ordinary people who don’t like the occupation and who also want to bring an end to the violence.
People in the Western media talk about a specific situation where Shias and Sunnis are trying to divide Iraq into narrow religious ethnic groups. But it is important to remember that the Shia community in Iraq, which is very large and comprises 60 to 65 per cent of the population, has always been divided politically. They don’t agree with each other. One faction of the Shias is manipulated by Tehran and does their bidding, while you have other large groups of Shias who are independent-minded and call themselves Iraqi nationalists. In my opinion, once foreign troops are withdrawn, we will be able to gauge the strength of different factions of Iraq is.
My big fear is that the Kurdish tribal leaders will sell themselves out, which they have done so often in the past. Iraqi Kurdistan would then, effectively become an Israeli-American protectorate used as a base to exercise and exert pressure in the region.
There is a fear that if the troops are withdrawn, there will be a civil war in Iraq. I don’t accept this. The foreign troops are creating these conditions. The longer they stay, the worse the situation will become.

Would you speculate that the US is gearing up for an assault on Iran?
I don’t think the US can invade Iran and if it does it would suffer a big defeat. Firstly, the Iranian army is not like the Iraqi army, which was weakened by years of sanctions. It has got a strong fighting force. Secondly, an American invasion of Iran would stir up Iranian nationalism and even the people who are at the moment depoliticised would find this unacceptable. Thirdly, the US simply doesn’t have enough troops on the ground to invade a second country because volunteers to the American army have completely dried up. If they want to invade another country, they will have to introduce conscription, something that will be unacceptable to the people of the United States. Fourthly, I doubt the US Congress would go along with another war.
All the US can do in Iran is a surgical bombing strike against the Iranian nuclear reactor. And that would stir up further anger across the region, for people will see the double standards - why is Israel allowed to have nuclear weapons but not Iran?
There is an additional point. Without Iranian support, the US could not have occupied Afghanistan and Iraq. The Iranian mullahs did not oppose the US intervention in the region. Their people in Iraq and Afghanistan collaborated with the Americans. So, an invasion of Iran would surely unscramble Iraq and Afghanistan.

How have you taken the Indian vote in the IAEA against Iran?
I think the Indian political and business elite, or important sections of it, is on its knees before the American empire. We know there are differences within the Indian government. Natwar Singh has been sacked because he is the one hostile to the Iraq war; he was the one who was in favor of Iran. Manmohan Singh is a weak political leader and in thrall of Western financial institutions.
The fact that India is going in this direction is extremely disturbing because it could play such a big role with its independence. It is very unfortunate that the Americans think they can use India and Southasia as a region against China when the need arises. In my opinion, all the Southasian countries should refuse to play this role, one that has been played by Pakistan for most of its existence. When India starts to do this as well, one feels a deep sense of shame.

Do you buy the argument that identity is playing an important role in making Southasia a troubled zone?
I don’t think it is a question of identity. I think it is essentially a question of big political errors and how to come to terms with them. We see the unfinished business of the partition of India. That is what Kashmir is. We have to try and find a way of solving this problem in a way that is in the interest of Kashmiris. I don’t really care what Delhi or Islamabad think. We must seek what the Kashmiri people want. Do they have the right to determine their own future or not, that is the question. No one cares about them and this is the most ignored struggle in the world.

What can be a peaceful and negotiated settlement to the Kashmir issue?
The solution to Kashmir is a unified autonomous Kashmir. They don’t want their own army or anything like that. They don’t want to be an independent state. They just want to be left alone. The best way is to leave them alone within the framework of a Southasian union, with Pakistan and India as guarantors of autonomy, and China too if necessary. One has to think in these broad terms and outgrow the situation created in 1997.
It is said that the Kashmir issue is being hijacked by a jehadi agenda. I don’t think so. The jehadis were basically armed and funded by the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). When they want to stop the tap, the funds and arms will stop. They can stop the whole thing and we have seen this happening when they tried it.
Jehadi Islamists are created by states. Without the support of a state, they cannot exist. The Saudi state supported them, then the Pakistani state supported them in Afghanistan and in Kashmir, and the American state supported them in Afghanistan.
India has got a long-term strategy, which is to incorporate Kashmir and make it a part of India against the will of the population. India must stop behaving like a colonial power in Kashmir and the brutality, rapes, and killings must end. The Pakistanis have no long-term strategy at all - all they think about is their own interest not that of Kashmiris. Kashmiris do not want to be pawns of either New Delhi or Islamabad. This became very clear yet again after the recent earthquake. When people of both sides try to meet each other, the Pakistani troops opened fire on them.

The recently held SAARC summit in Dhaka agreed to include China as an observer. There are discussions about including China in SAARC while Afghanistan has already been made a full-fledged member. What is your opinion on this?
Including China in a Southasian union is foolish. China is also a state power. There is a Chinese commonwealth, which includes Taiwan and all these places. You can trade with them; a strong Southasian union of course would be friendly with China. A link between Southasian Union and China would create the largest economic entity in the world. So, I am in favor of that but I think we should not fall in the trap of European Union which has overly expanded itself to an extent that it has become irrelevant as a politically entity. I would like the Southasian union to be not just an economic union but also a political entity acting in the interest of people of Southasia. As far as Afghanistan is concerned, it should, of course, be part of SAARC, provided it is not occupied by foreign troops. So, certainly Afghanistan, but China no.

How do you see the Southasia of the future?
I have been arguing for some time now that what we need in Southasia is a Southasian union, based loosely on the model of the European Union. Such a union should include free movement across borders, free trade with each other, cultural contacts and a Commission of Southasia. This centralised Commission, where views of all countries are reflected through their representatives, would then deal with other parts of the world as a collective unit in the interest of Southasia. This union will include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and possibly Burma if it wanted to.
It would be possible to solve the two intractable problems of Southasia - Kashmir and the Tamil region in Sri Lanka - within the Southasian union in a manner that would not challenge the sovereignty of each country but would nonetheless create a larger entity in the region. Within this framework, Kashmir and the Tamil region could be given their autonomy, guaranteed by all the powers of the Southasian union.
This is also in the interest of the business elites of the region because what they want is peace leading to prosperity. But it is something that is prevented from happening by strong vested interests in all the countries. In Pakistan, for example, if the army agreed to this, it would reduce its own power because the first fallout of such a framework would be a reduction in the scale of military expenditures, a reduction in their crazy spending on nuclear weapons, and the creation of a society in which something is done for the poor.
When I was in Pakistan recently following the earthquake, it was completely impossible for me to understand the nature of the regime which can’t rush to the help of its people even though it wants to. In other words, Pakistan has never created the social infrastructure in ordinary times to help the poor. So, how could we expect to do this in times of crisis? It can be done and it would be easy to do it, in my opinion, by creating a framework of a Southasian Union where countries reduce or cut down on military expenditures and invest resources elsewhere.


The Hindu, January 31, 2006

India will vote against Iran again

NEW DELHI: India would like to avoid a vote on the Iranian nuclear issue at the February 2- 3 meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. But New Delhi will cast its ballot once again against Teheran if it is called upon to make a choice. Highly placed South Block sources told The Hindu on Monday that the "writing was on the wall." While India, ideally, would want to be bailed out by a last-minute compromise deal, it would not alter its pro-American, anti-Iran vote of September 24, 2005 at the IAEA's governing board. According to the sources, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's decision to retain the External Affairs portfolio, despite Sunday's Cabinet expansion, is significant. Conceding that the Government's decision became more difficult after the recent comments by American ambassador David Mulford that India's civilian nuclear deal with the United States would "die" if New Delhi did not vote against Iran, the sources said India's stance remained unchanged since September 2005. Speaking to the media after assuming office, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said on the Iran issue: "Whatever decisions are taken by the Government are in conformity with our stated foreign policy and also in the interest of India and the world. We had meaningfully engaged last time also with the EU-3. We had been talking to Russia and other countries involved to find a solution to this issue." Asked whether the Government was in the hot seat given the "threats" from the Left parties, he said: "There is no question of a hot seat. I was in a hot seat earlier too. But let me tell you there is no threat from the Left. Yes, they have their perception, and we will talk to them." Russia, China urged to get tough with Iran.

index, January 30, 2006

India Shops For Anti-Sub Plane, Gear

By Vivek Raghuvanshi, New Delhi

The Indian Navy floated a limited global tender last month for procurement of eight Maritime Reconnaissance Aircraft (MRA), along with equipment and stores for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface strike roles. The contract for the acquisition of the eight long-range, ASW aircraft is valued at more than $800 million, an Indian Navy official said. Requests for proposals were sent to U.S. firms Boeing and Lockheed Martin, France’s Dassault, Italy’s Finmeccanica, Russia’s Ilyushin Design Bureau and Brazil’s Embraer, among others.
But one executive of a Western defense company competing for the contract said the tender is a mere formality as the MRA’s technical requirements are written to ensure selection of Lockheed’s P-3C Orion. Essential requirements for the aircraft include endurance of more than 12 hours, a weapon payload of 3.5 metric tons, the ability to carry sea-skimming missiles and data-link capabilities, the Navy official said. The endurance of more than 12 hours particularly is suited only to the Orion, said the Western executive, who is based here. With the P-8A Multimission Maritime Aircraft, based on a Boeing 737 airframe, still on the drawing table, he added, Lockheed Martin will emerge as the clear winner. However, Vice Adm. Madanjit Singh, commander in chief of India’s Western Naval Command, said acquiring P-3Cs would be only an interim option, as the Western Naval Command, which administers the Navy’s assets, needs a new-generation aircraft for long-term requirements. Technical bids must be received no later than March 15. The Navy also wants the aircraft’s operational life to exceed 15 years, and its patrol speed to exceed 200 miles. The aircraft’s sensors must incorporate a maritime patrol radar, identification-friend-or-foe system, electronic support measures system, data links, electro-optic devices, inertial navigation system and Global Positioning System receivers, and standard avionics. The weapon requirements include air-to-surface missiles, an internal bomb bay suite, sonar buoys, torpedoes and aerial depth-charge bombs. The aircraft must have new-generation maritime patrol radar for detection of surface and air targets, automatic target tracking for up to 80 targets at a time and the ability to fly by day or night.


Indian Express, January 30, 2006

Iran vote: SP, CPI mount pressure on Centre again

LUCKNOW, JANUARY 29: THE Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) today threatened the UPA government with dire consequences if it bowed to "US pressure" and voted in the IAEA to refer Iran to the UN Security Council. In Indore, CPI national secretary D Raja said: "If the government repeats the mistake it made last time on the issue of IAEA vote on Iran, which is expected on February 2, it will lead to a major conflict between Congress and the Left parties with serious consequences... All four Left parties have written a joint letter to the government demanding it either to abstain or vote against the US-backed motion on Iran, and not to come under any US pressure on the issue." Asked about the definition of serious consequences, Raja said, "let them first take a stand on the issue". In Lucknow, Mulayam Singh, too, kept the heat on. "Iran is an old and trusted friend and the Central government should stop playing footsie with the USA," Mulayam said at the massive Samajwadi youth wing rally today. "Takrane ka waqt aa gaya hai (now is the time to take the Congress and other forces head on)," Mulayam exhorted the youth. On Saturday, the Chief Minister had hosted the Pakistan High Commissioner Aziz Ahmed Khan at his official residence. During the meeting, Mulayam conveyed to Khan that the Samajwadi Partywould oppose US President George Bush's visit to India next month by staging protest demonstrations.


January 30, 2006

Putting together a survival kit for Pakistan

M.B. Naqvi

30 January 2006, Karachi

Look at what is happening in Sindh. The decibal of nationalist rhetoric is rising and sounds irreconcilable; the loudest is the new entrant to nationalist ranks: Muttaheda Qaumi Movement. Authority, having penetrated and bought many of their leaders, treats them with benign neglect. Nationalists roar against the "agencies", the crucial part of uniformed bureaucracy and the latter smiles. But this may be hubris born of success the Army has had in keeping all major departments of public life subordinated all these years. But the Army shouldn't forget the very real and pervasive unrest among Sindhis who want to break the bonds that are keeping them tethered to an oppressive and uncaring system and a constitution that denies them their due. The dynamics of politics, especially in conjunction with foreign policy's vicissitudes, can produce alarming situations.
Balochistan is aflame in more than merely metaphorical sense. Indeed there are several separate flames. Let's take the brightest first: whether or not the Balochistan Liberation Army exists, a struggle with rifles and rocket launchers is being waged against Pakistan Army and its subsidiary: the Frontier Constabulary. It is a serious affair. Authority's habitually maladroit reactions face a serious challenge from all Baloch (and Pushtoon) Nationalists for a radical change. Doubtless, these inchoate forces cannot defeat Pakistan Army with its modern weapons. But is that all to sustain complacency in the Pak Army in the face of flares ups in Kohlu, Kahan, Sui and Dera Bugti? Can they see no worrying possibilities as a result of the vicissitudes of international politics?
The second Baloch force causing trouble and worry comprises Taliban and their friends, with or without al Qaeda cooperation. Taliban show two faces: They are making life difficult for American, NATO and Afghan forces. Whether there is still some support and guidance from their old mentors inside Pak Army, as the American media allege, they are one of several nemesises of Karzai regime. Their second face is one of the decimaters of the Kafars within: the Shias. Both faces of Taliban are familiar and equally dangerous. Pakistan military, the only policy makers in Pakistan, should organize war games on and about Balochistan with its minerals' strategic value in mind. If it does, it may hear scenarios that will dent its sangfroid.
It is hard to compress the complexities of NWFP politics by one who sits so physically far from it. But Afghanistan abuts even more on NWFP (or rather Pakhtunkhawa) than on Balochistan. One emerging reality is the evolution of a mindset that results from the confluence of two notionally-related streams of thought: Taliban and al Qaeda. Current politics of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal is only slightly a moderate version of the mindset that mainly rules Pakhtunkhawa and is also in an unavowed alliance with Pak Army. The more extremist force is fighting a slow intensity insurgency against Pak Army - and Pakistan - that is so much in the news and is making Americans exasperated enough to violate Pakistan's sovereignty by what is hot pursuit inside Pakistan. Americans not only refuse to apologise, they seem to be claiming the right to what may be hot pursuit at will into Pakistan in days to come.
Eggheads in Pak Army should objectively assess the true state of Pakistan's relationship with the US. The Americans are 100 per cent serious about hunting down both Taliban and al Qaeda wherever they may be hiding. Pakistan in Americans eyes - if Pakistanis remove their blinkers from their eyes - is working both sides of the street; official Pakistan is trying to hunt with the American hound and run with the Islamicist hare. This is an inherently unstable and dangerous state of affairs. Should there be properly conducted war games on NWFP, may be the same as for Balochistan, troubling scenarios would emerge.
Pakhtunkhawa is also home to secular Pushtoon nationalists. They were eclipsed by MMA in 2002 polls thanks to the magic comprising Musharraf regime's role in the creation of MMA and the "agencies". Most war gamers, one ventures to predict, would recommend another really free election without the political magic of 2002 polls being employed. The outlook will be different then.
No one has ever taken the trouble to investigate what ails the Northern Areas. Why cant the Shias and Sunnis live together as brothers, the way they have lived since centuries. Who is breaking peace? Is it not a fact that most people there want normal civic rights and self-government? Who opposes it and why? Who is deflecting attention? Why major opposition parties do not investigate the troubled politics of NAs. Indeed a non-official panel of independent jurists, columnists, intellectuals and noted writers should be constituted by some NGO with funding from small, distant powers who are not part of the renewed Great Game in Central Asia. Parallel investigations by several panels will speedily bring out the sifted facts. That will also underline the reforms Pakistan needs.
Talking about Azad Kashmir is hard and also easy. It is straightforward: give to Azad Kashmir what Islamabad wants for Indian-controlled Kashmir: a measure of self-determination through a free election and investing more powers in the regional government. Factually, Islamabad is not sure of what it may demand, or agree to, vis-à-vis Indian-controlled Kashmir. However, remembering a few facts will be useful.
Original Pakistan demand was to hold a free plebiscite as a preliminary to its joining Pakistan. No clear commitment is available about what amount of autonomy will Islamabad give to Srinagar government. Will that government be like Azad Kashmir's or something like Quetta or Peshawar? Neither does one know what Pakistan has in mind for Jammu or Ladakh areas. It is clear that these will never form part of Pakistan. Since Pakistanis go on insisting on a change in Kashmir Valley's status, they should renounce claim over Jammu and Ladakh. Additionally, show in practice in Muzaffarabad what they actually intend for the Srinagar authorities. Today's over-centralised military regime is an argument against Kashmiris joining Pakistan - where democracy is for ever subordinated to the Army.
As for Punjab, things seem to be very congenial for the Army. Today, Islamabad policies have 2007 election in view. Next year is significant for both national election and for President Pervez Musharraf's re-election. There is another decision that is due in October that year: whether Mr. Musharraf will demit the office of Chief of Army Staff or will he soldier on in uniform. KBD was a bait to Punjabi voters. That has made Musharraf the cynasure of Punjabi eyes, or so it seems. Once elections are over, all dams will take their place on the plate of Mr. Shaukat Aziz. "Agencies" appear to be sanguine about Punjab voting as Musharraf desires - for Q League.
Pakistan political life is splintered along provincial lines. The fact that should occupy all minds is how have we reached the present pass. Doubtless Pak Army's rise to become a politically decisive factor goes back to 1950s. It has subjugated all departments of public life ever since, except for a brief interlude (1971-1977) due to special circumstances of 1971. Let's think of what can happen as a result of this permanent Army-controlled policy-making.
The Army is unlikely to let go its stranglehold on the government and economy. This will go on infuriating all ethnic nationalists. At some stage, Army, a Colossus, will clash mightily with variously combined nationalists. Army thinks it can put down this challenge. Nationalists rely on the maxim that a nation so deeply divided and afflicted with conflict invites foreign intervention. That is the context of mentioning 1971.


Frontline, January 28, 2006

Nuclear poker over Iran

Praful Bidwai

As a confrontation builds up over Teheran's nuclear activities, the West appears both confused and hypocritical and India increasingly directionless.

Iran'S face-off with the United States and the European Union on the nuclear issue has reached a critical pitch with Teheran threatening to end its voluntary cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) if it is referred to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki's statement came in reaction to the January 12 joint declaration by the European Union-3 (Germany, France and Britain) that its talks were at a "dead end" after two and a half years of acrimonious bargaining and that "the time has now come for the Security Council to become involved".
Also in the backdrop were reports that the U.S. and Israel have drawn up plans to strike Iran's nuclear facilities with bunker-buster bombs - a possibility that is liable to have the most horrifying consequences imaginable not just for the already-destabilised West Asian region, but the entire world.
Although Iran's stance has hardened, Mottaki laced his remarks with caution and offered to continue negotiations. Most important, he stopped short of threatening to pull out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). He warned: "The Europeans will lose the means which are now at their disposal if Iran's case is sent to the Security Council... . The [Iranian] government will be required, in conformity with the law adopted by Parliament, to end all its voluntary measures of cooperation" with the IAEA, including surprise inspections under the Additional Protocol.
Yet, Mottaki reminded the E.U.-3 that Iran on January 10 had only opened the Natanz nuclear facility in central Iran for "research", that too under the IAEA inspectors' watch. He called on Europe to "not make propaganda over research which is natural and normal" and said Iran was prepared for talks with the Europeans on enrichment. Iran also described a proposal to enrich uranium on Russian territory and send it back to Iran as a good starting point for negotiations.
The Western states have also sent out signals that they want "consensus", not confrontation. While U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice deplored Iran's move to break the seals on the Natanz plant as "dangerous defiance", she said this is "an end of diplomacy". Even President George W. Bush, after meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said: "Our job is to form a common consensus... . This is what called diplomacy." British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw also said: "No one is talking about invading Iran... . Iran is not Iraq."
Despite all these qualifications, however, it is clear that the Iran-West confrontation has reached a new high. Part of the impetus for this was apparently provided by Iran's decision to break open the Natanz uranium enrichment facility. But beyond a point, this is a deceptive explanation: the reopening of the plant under the IAEA inspectors' noses is a largely symbolic act. It does not significantly alter the material reality. Iran does not produce uranium hexafluoride gas of high quality with which to run its crude centrifuges. It has only about 150 of them, when thousands are needed to produce a sizeable quality even of low-enriched uranium, usable in a power reactor, leave alone the highly-enriched uranium needed for a nuclear weapon.
According to independent experts, Iran's gas conversion facility is flawed and cannot yield high-purity hexafluoride to be processed into uranium metal. ("India's nuclear albatross", Frontline, October 7, 2005) Centrifuging gas is a far, far more difficult technology than converting the oxides of uranium to haxafluoride, a simple chemical process. Uranium centrifuges spin at extremely high speeds such as 800 to 1,200 revolutions a second. They break down if there is even the slightest material imbalance and asymmetry or poor lubrication. Even bad bearings can cause crashes.
Even India's Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has had trouble stabilising the centrifuges at the Rare Materials Plant near Mysore. Iran can be expected to be much worse off. It is probably five to 10 years away from mastering the technology for a bomb.
The West surely knows this. The real cause of the heightened tension probably lies elsewhere. Powerful states like the U.S. want to pre-empt Iran from embarking on acquiring an enrichment capability and thus set a deterrent example for other aspirants to a nuclear weapons status - just as it thought it had done with Iraq. (It is another matter that the whole rationale of the war on Iraq was based on a tissue of lies. The U.S. also cannot explain why it "tolerates" North Korea's self-avowed claim to a nuclear weapons status while opposing Iran's nuclear programme.)
Iran too cannot be unaware that the West would exploit any move on its part to indicate that it is resuming its nuclear programme. Teheran is taking a calculated risk by going beyond gas conversion into "research" in enrichment. Its likely motive is to get the U.S., rather than just the E.U.-3, to start talking to it. After all, the EU-3 have been less than honest in the way they have conducted the talks with Iran. By mid-2005, they had a "package" ready with incentives for Iran in return for a suspension or slowing down of its nuclear pursuits. This might have been acceptable to Teheran. But as soon as the possibility of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad winning the presidential election against Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani emerged, they dropped the package.
Iran is keen to get the Americans to talk to it for another reason too: it wants to be accepted as a "normal" state, with full diplomatic relations with Washington. That would end Teheran's isolation and help it access technology and markets.
Iran'S calculation is threefold. First, even if it is hauled up before the Security Council, the chances of tough sanctions being imposed on it are low. Such sanctions will necessarily target Iran's oil, and send its prices sky-high, affecting Western economies the most. Iran, after all, has 10 per cent of the world's crude oil and the second largest reserve of natural gas. Countries like Japan and much of the rest of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are desperately dependent on Iran's oil. Neither they, nor the U.S., can afford high oil prices. Thus, the Japanese, German and French governments have all said that the call for sanctions against Iran is "premature".
Secondly, Iran knows that neither Russia nor China is fully with the West on the issue of a punitive or coercive approach towards Teheran. Russia has a major economic stake in Iran. It is building a civilian nuclear plant at Bushehr and says it will go ahead with sales of short-range missiles worth $1 billion to it. China is a major consumer of Iran's oil and has just signed agreements for hydrocarbon prospecting and production in Iran. It has repeatedly called for "consensus" and negotiations with Iran. After the breaking of the seals at Natanz, China refused to sign a joint statement with the other permanent members of the Security Council.
And thirdly, Iran has tremendous influence in Iraq's new Shia-majority government. The U.S. has not "stabilised" post-war Iraq. Grave failure stares it in the face. The Iraq situation is worsening by the week. Iraq, with Palestine, is the crucible in which the entire West Asian region will be reshaped. Iran's influence is not confined to Iraq, but extends to Lebanon and Syria as well.
There is of course the worst-case scenario: a strike by the U.S. or Israel (or by the two together) on Iran's nuclear facilities. This is not as fantastic as it might seem. The U.S. has reportedly ordered preparations for such a scenario. At the doctrinal level, the arrangements for a pre-emptive attack are in place with the Nuclear Posture Review, Washington's description of Iran as part of the "Axis of Evil", and its warning that it could use even nuclear weapons against a "rogue" state which has a programme to acquire weapons of mass destruction. (Indeed, one extreme-case scenario for a tactical nuclear strike has been developed by a U.S. physician based at the University of California, San Diego, who cites 15 reasons.
Equally serious are reports in The Guardian of Israeli plans to strike Iran's nuclear facilities. Israel regards Iran as a strategic threat because of its strong economy, further boosted by high oil prices, and its status as a middle-level military power. The perception is strengthened by Ahmedinejad's recent call for wiping Israel "off the map" and his denial of the Holocaust. Israel says that Iran's nuclear programme "can be destroyed" - presumably, in a repeat of the Israeli attack of 1981 on "Osirak", Iraq's experimental nuclear reactor then under construction.
Likud leader and former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says that should he win the Israeli general elections in March, he would follow in former Prime Minister Menachem Begin's footsteps: "The Iranian threat is an existential one. In this regard I will continue the legacy of Menachem Begin, who thwarted Iran's neighbour, Iraq, from acquiring nuclear weapons by adopting bold and daring measures. I believe that is what Israel needs to do."
If Israel does strike Iran's nuclear facilities, it would play straight into Teheran's hands and help it mobilise support from the Arab states against a "Zionist plot" aimed at suppressing a nuclear challenge to the Israeli state. It is also doubtful if such an attack would fully disable Iran's nuclear programme because many of its nuclear facilities are believed to have been buried deep underground.
What is not in doubt is that a strike on Iran will open the floodgates to chaos and violence on an unprecedented and unfathomable scale in the entire West Asian region, with explosive consequences for the U.S., among other powers. The U.S. controls the airspace that Israel would have to traverse to attack Iran. It would have to approve of such a strike, which risks inviting a strategic disaster of unbelievable proportions.
The West has not resolved its dilemma. But that is unlikely to stop it from lobbying and bullying other states, including India, to isolate Iran and haul it before the Security Council. There are signs that Washington has mounted renewed pressure on New Delhi on the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. In December, U.S. embassy officials gave a demarche to the Union Ministry of Petroleum against the project, which the U.S. says it opposes "absolutely". As a carrot, the U.S. is offering nuclear energy cooperation to India under the July 18 agreement. Condoleezza Rice on January 6 explicitly linked U.S. opposition to India-Iran energy cooperation with the nuclear deal.
The Western, in particular the U.S., position on Iran is shot through with hypocrisy and double standards. The U.S. insists on keeping its nuclear weapons arsenal, indeed on expanding it. It has embarked on a plan to extend its nuclear capability both upwards, through "Star Wars", and downwards, through bunker-buster nuclear weapons. There could be no example that is more negative than Washington's own addiction to nuclear weapons. So long as a handful of the world's states continue to insist on possessing nuclear weapons, they cannot make a credible case for other states not having them.
This does not argue that Iran should have nuclear weapons or that its own nuclear intentions are honourable and entirely limited to peaceful purposes. Iran too is playing a cynical game, although it cites its "right" to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes under the NPT. The trouble is that the same capabilities that would advance its civilian nuclear programme can be used to develop nuclear weapons in future. That highlights the basic contradiction at the heart of the NPT, and more generally, of the unequal global nuclear order, which does not effectively compel the nuclear weapons-states to disarm.
Where does all this leave India? After its disgraceful vote at the IAEA on September 24, India has lost whatever little diplomatic leverage it had with Iran. It has very little economic leverage either. Iran, with its huge oil and gas resources, is in no way dependent on India. India's only conceivable leverage could be moral or moral-political. But even that is compromised, indeed lost, by New Delhi's desperate desire to have its nuclear weapons "normalised" and its refusal to accept nuclear restraint.
India could have set a positive example if it had returned to the global nuclear disarmament agenda as the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) promised in the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP). The power of this example would have been greatly reinforced if India had initiated bilateral measures of nuclear restraint with Pakistan. But the nuclear deal with the U.S. has effectively closed this option. Unless India cancels this deal, it will be compelled to accept the legitimacy of nuclear weapons, including those of the U.S. It cannot both crave acceptance as a nuclear weapons-state within the global nuclear order and demand a radical change in it.
New Delhi has reduced itself to the status of a prisoner through the disastrous nuclear deal. The agreement is not primarily about nuclear power. Nor is it a mere bilateral arrangement. At its heart is a conversation about power, in its raw, cynical form, defined by the U.S. on its terms. This means that India will be a passive, helpless spectator to the reshaping of the most volatile region of the world along even more violent lines - the very opposite of what supporters of the Indian bomb had hoped nuclear weapons would help it achieve, by expanding the scope for influencing the world and enhancing New Delhi's independence in security and foreign policy-making.
Crossing the nuclear threshold in May 1998 was a big blunder. Signing the nuclear deal with the U.S. seven years later was an even bigger disaster.


The News International, January 28, 2006

Delusions of equality

Praful Bidwai

One thing that most South Asian governments like to propagate is the idea that their relations with a hegemonic power like the United States are basically equal, dignified, more or less symmetrical, and based on respect for national sovereignty. Sometimes, even otherwise-sensible people buy this-to protect or soothe their national self-esteem. Strategic analysts of course make a living out of prescribing how best to use relations with the US to maximise national advantage within the framework of "equality".
However, such equality, symmetry or parity is a dangerous delusion especially in regard to Washington's present, nastily belligerent, Neoconservative avatar. Both Pakistan and India discovered this recently on issues that cut close to what their governments regard as their eminent domain: sovereignty and security.
The January 13 US bombing of a village in Bajaur Agency, killing 18 people, delivered a rude message. Washington will do whatever it likes to advance its interests as it seem them; it alone will determine the methods; it wont' bother to consult "friends". In the present instance, the mere suspicion that al-Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri might have been present in the Bajaur village was enough for the US to rain "Hellfire" missiles from its "Predator" drones.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz's protest that the action was conducted without Pakistan's consent has had absolutely no effect in Washington. Nor has his insistence that no terrorists were killed-"where are the bodies?" In fact, following his meeting with President Bush, Aziz couldn't give a straight answer to the question as to whether the bombing came up for discussion. Even leaving aside the speculation that the US might have penetrated the Pakistan intelligence establishment, and that the confusion over the incident is the product of divisions within it, it is plain that the Americans don't treat the Pakistanis as equal partners.
This is fully in keeping with US practice even within its close alliance system, NATO. Washington has never accepted the idea that there should be "two fingers on the trigger"-its own, and its ally's. Unilateralism is built into the way the Pentagon conceives and conducts itself. It becomes even more virulent when the US deals with minor or less important allies like Pakistan-never mind the glorified ascription, "Major Non-NATO Ally."
The Bajaur bombing had a precedent in overt and covert actions in South Waziristan in 2004-05. Bajaur will, in turn, set a precedent for future overt actions by the US in other Agency areas, or for that matter, covert activities in Balochistan, the NWFP and Afghanistan too. All assurances by Washington that it respects Pakistan's sovereignty and will consult it in the future, which Aziz and President Pervez Musharraf repeatedly cite, mean nothing. The only issue is whether the government will be able to pacify the widespread resentment in Pakistan at US heavyhandedness.
India's experience with the July 18 "nuclear cooperation" deal with Washington (variously described by its supporters as a "coup", "breakthrough" and a "gift horse") has been equally unpleasant.
The agreement, which makes a one-time exception in the global nuclear order for India, demands that India "voluntarily" separate its military nuclear facilities from civilian ones, and place the latter under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards in a "phased manner." But at the end of the third round of talks on fleshing out the agreement, it turns out that the separation is anything but "voluntary" or determined solely by India.
Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, who represented the US in the January 19-20 negotiations in New Delhi, apparently told India that it would have to seriously revise the list of civilian facilities if it is to be "credible" and acceptable to the US Congress, which must ratify the July agreement.
According to reports, there are three stumbling-blocks. First, India wants all "research & development" programmes exempted from safeguards. The most important of these is fast-breeders, special reactors which use fission caused by "fast neutrons" and, theoretically, generate more fissile material than they consume. The US insists that these be put on the civilian list and safeguarded.
Second, India would also like two civilian reactors at the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS), built in the 1980s, to be exempted from IAEA inspections. The Department of Atomic Energy's (DAE) rationale is apparently that they would act as an additional source of unsafeguarded plutonium in a future contingency. It's also possible that the MAPS complex houses testing facilities for the nuclear propulsion reactor which India is developing for its nuclear submarine project. The DAE wouldn't like any foreign inspectors near that "sensitive" facility. The US says no to exempting MAPS.
Third, India would also like to keep out of the civilian list CIRUS, a small reactor built with Canadian and US help in 1960, which produces weapons-grade plutonium. CIRUS was the source of the plutonium used in India's 1974 "peaceful" explosion. It has since been used to produce more fuel for nuclear weapons.
India's case is weakest on CIRUS because it was officially designated for "peaceful purposes" under bilateral agreements which India signed in the 1950s with the US and Canada. Unless these are rescinded, it would be illogical and illegal to exclude CIRUS from the civilian list.
To keep CIRUS in the list, India will demand the "freedom" to build a larger plutonium producer, dubiously citing "economies of sale". It might give up the MAPS demand. But the fast-breeder issue will pose a big problem.
India has made such a mystique out of breeders-and the idea of using them at a later stage to burn thorium, of which India has plenty-that it will find it hard to retreat. India currently has one small operational fast "test" reactor and is building a "prototype" 500 MW reactor. But using thorium as fuel in nuclear-fission reactors is not a commercial technology; it's only a theoretical possibility. India may become a prisoner of its own illusion.
Illusions apart, the current negotiations show that India's assessment of the nuclear deal's implications was unrealistic, even rosy. It really thought this was an equal, reciprocal symmetrical deal, in which India would have "the same responsibilities" and "the same benefits and advantages" as the five NPT-recognised nuclear states.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Parliament on August 3 that the civilian-military separation would not be imposed but would be "decided voluntarily and solely on our own judgment." The identification "will be so phased that our strategic programme is safeguarded."
DAE secretary Anil Kakodkar also clarified that "the determination of what is going to be identified as a civilian nuclear facility is going to be an Indian decision… taken at appropriate points of time… [I]n identifying civilian nuclear facilities, we have to determine that they were of no national security significance. We will do so this in a phased manner. It is not a one-time determination."
But it's amply clear that even identification, leave alone actual separation and safeguarding, won't be done in a "phased manner." That's not how the Americans want it.
The deal is unlikely to be finalised before Bush's visit. It may even fall through, unless India caves in to pressure and follows the American script. So much for "reciprocity" and "equality."


Inter Press Service, January 26, 2006

Bumpy Ride for Indo-US Nuclear Deal

Praful Bidwai

NEW DELHI - The "nuclear cooperation" agreement signed by United States President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, six months ago in Washington, has run into trouble over separation of India's civilian installations from the military.
As a result of this major hurdle, the "one of a kind" deal is unlikely to be fleshed out and approved by the two sides before Bush's first-ever visit to India, expected to begin on March 1.
The July 18 deal is meant to legitimize and "normalize" India's nuclear weapons and facilitate resumption of civilian nuclear commerce with this country, which has been under technology embargoes since it first exploded a nuclear device in 1974.
The unsuccessful outcome of the third round of talks on the agreement on Jan. 19-20 in the Indian capital is likely to dampen the high tone that was originally set for the Bush visit, which takes place amid Washington's offer to "help India become a Great Power in the 21st century."
Until India's nuclear facilities are separated under civilian and military categories, the former cannot be placed under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations nuclear watchdog.
India has over 80 nuclear facilities and installations, including 15 power reactors and an unspecified number of military-related installations.
India and the U.S. have been doing some hard bargaining over which facilities should be included in the civilian and military lists. The U.S. is pressing India to expand the list of facilities to be brought under IAEA safeguards.
But India says safeguards should be "voluntary," as applicable to the nuclear weapons-states (NWSs) recognized under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).
Disagreements between the two governments are now spilling over into the Indian media in the form of polemical attacks, in which India's Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) figures prominently.
Supporters of the U.S. position say there is a sharp divergence in approach between the DAE and the prime minister's office (PMO). The DAE is accused of being insular, inflexible, and resistant to international cooperation.
Supporters of the Indian government's stance say the DAE's proposal was approved by the PMO before being put on the table and is meant to maximize India's future options and not limit the size of its nuclear arsenal.
"This reflects only one side of the debate on the nuclear deal," says M.V. Ramana, a physicist and researcher at Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Environment and Development, located in the southern city of Bangalore.
"This is the nationalist or pseudo-nationalist side, which assumes that nuclear weapons are necessary for India's independence and sovereignty. But the real debate is between the pro-bomb and peace viewpoints. The peace movement holds India doesn't need nuclear weapons for its security. Nor does the U.S.," Ramana told IPS in an interview.
However, says Ramana, it appears certain that the Indo-U.S. talks have run into trouble. "It is not clear if and how quickly their differences can be resolved."
The sharpest differences pertain to India's fast-breeder reactor program. These are special reactors that use fission caused by fast neutrons and burn highly concentrated or enriched fuel. Theoretically, they generate more fissile material than they consume.
Under the latest proposal made to the U.S., India would keep its "experimental" fast-breeder reactors outside the civilian list. It would also like two civilian power reactors near Chennai, built in the 1980s, to be exempted from IAEA inspections.
Above all, India would like facilities at the Bhabha Atomic Research Center, near Mumbai, to be spared external inspections. Some of them are critical to its nuclear weapons program. These facilities include CIRUS, a small reactor built with Canadian and U.S. help and commissioned in 1960, which produces weapons-grade plutonium.
India has indicated "flexibility" on CIRUS. Under the agreement signed in the 1950s with the U.S. and Canada, CIRUS was only meant for "peaceful" uses, but India reprocessed spent- fuel to explode its first bomb in 1974.
However, India might hang tough on fast breeders. India currently has one operational fast "test" reactor of 20-year-old vintage and is building a "prototype" 500MW reactor.
The U.S. wants both reactors under safeguards. It cites the example of Japan, two of whose reactors (Joyo and Monju) are safeguarded. But India says Japan is a non-NWS under the NPT and the July 18 agreement allows India "the same responsibilities and practices" and "the same benefits and advantages" as the NWSs.
Unless this issue is resolved, fast breeders could be the deal-breaker.
"It is possible that some DAE officials want to have the option of producing nuclear fuel for weapons in these unsafeguarded reactors," says Ramana. "So they are seeking exemption for them. Another possible reason is that the MAPS complex might also house the testing facilities for the nuclear reactor which India is developing for its submarines. Indian authorities probably don't want IAEA inspectors lurking around there."
Whatever the reasons, the U.S. has told India that it will not be easy to "sell" the agreement to its Congress for ratification unless there is a satisfactory resolution of the civilian-military separation issue. India has also told the U.S. that it will find it hard to generate domestic acceptance for a deal that limits the size of India's arsenal or future capabilities.
The next weeks and months are likely to see some more tough bargaining on all the disputed issues. These will determine what happens both in the U.S. Congress and the Nuclear Suppliers' Group NSG), a 45-member voluntary grouping without UN status.
Unless the NSG too approves the agreement, it cannot lead to resumption of civilian nuclear commerce between India and the rest of the world even as India gets to keep its nuclear weapons.
The U.S.-India nuclear deal presents an unprecedented challenge to the global nuclear nonproliferation order. It proposes a one-time special exception for India under it. If India succeeds in getting such an exception, the deal will breed resentment across the globe – in Pakistan, North Korea, and, above all, Iran.
Iran has already accused the U.S. and India of double standards. As its case moves toward a likely reference to the UN Security Council, Iran will certainly raise the "double standards" pitch. Neither that nor India's "official" entry into the global nuclear club can help rid the world of nuclear weapons.

index, January 25, 2006

India Nuclear Deal May Depend on Iran Vote: U.S.

By Reuters, New Delhi

The United States said Jan. 25 that a nuclear cooperation deal with India may stall unless New Delhi votes against Iran next month at the U.N. nuclear energy watchdog. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meets on Feb. 2 to discuss whether to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council over a nuclear program the West says is aimed at developing weapons, which Tehran denies. The U.S. ambassador to India, David Mulford, told the Press Trust of India news agency that if India decided not to vote against Iran, "the effect on members of the U.S. Congress with regard to the civil nuclear initiative will be devastating". The agency quoted Mulford as saying the deal would "die", but the government said it would vote based on its "own independent judgment". U.N. chief Kofi Annan said on Wednesday the IAEA was unlikely to decide at that meeting what to do about Iran. U.S. President George Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed in July an accord on civil nuclear energy that would reverse a nearly 30-year-old ban on atomic cooperation with New Delhi, which has tested nuclear arms. The deal has yet to be fully worked out, especially the key requirement of a separation plan for India's civil and military nuclear facilities, and must then pass a final test in the U.S. Congress and be agreed by the 44-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group. India surprised its historic ally Iran in September by siding with the West when the IAEA declared Iran had failed to comply with its international obligations. Its role at next week's IAEA meeting is being keenly watched. "The position India will take on this issue at the IAEA will be based on India's own independent judgment," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "We categorically reject any attempt to link this to the proposed India-U.S. agreement on civil nuclear energy cooperation." The first sign of trouble with the deal came last week when after talks with Indian officials U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said there were "difficulties" in finalizing it but that he remained hopeful. The two sides were hoping to finish the pact before Bush visits the subcontinent in March.


The Washington Post, January 25, 2006

U.S. Troops on Front Line Of Expanding India Ties

Post-9/11 Shift Stresses Common Interests

By John Lancaster
Washington Post Foreign Service

CHAUBATIA, India -- More than half a century after independence, foreign soldiers have returned to this onetime colonial garrison of tin-roofed bungalows, stone churches and panoramic Himalayan views. But this time, the soldiers' accents are American, not British, and their purpose is not to subdue India but to cultivate it as an ally.
In the latest of a series of such exercises, 120 U.S. combat troops have come here to train with their Indian counterparts in areas such as counterinsurgency and peacekeeping. Besides taking classroom instruction, they are firing Indian weapons, bonding with Indian soldiers over games of soccer and volleyball, and even developing a taste for vegetarian cuisine, albeit with spices toned down for sensitive American palates.
"When you get the armies together, it's like saying, 'Hey, we can work together, we can accomplish this together,' " said U.S. Army Capt. Robert Atienza, 31, of San Diego, who commands the Hawaii-based infantry company that is participating in the 2 1/2 -week exercise that began last week. "It's very broad."
The exercise is an example of the striking improvement in relations between the United States and India following decades of Cold War estrangement and more recent tensions stemming from India's nuclear tests in 1998.
Spurred by the United States, the two governments have signed commercial, scientific and military agreements in the last two years and are negotiating a controversial deal that could permit the sale of civilian nuclear technology to India. The Bush administration is eager to cultivate India as a partner in counterterrorism and, some analysts say, as a strategic counterweight to China.
The warming trend is also reflected in the surge of interest in India among U.S. business leaders such as Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft Corp., who recently announced a $1.7 billion investment in the country, the latest in a string of such commitments by U.S. technology firms eager to cash in on India's booming economy and surplus of inexpensive brainpower.
Other indicators include the parade of U.S. lawmakers through New Delhi in recent months and steadily expanding commercial air links. In addition, a record number of Indian students -- more than 80,000 -- are studying at U.S. universities, according to the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.
President Bush is scheduled to visit India for the first time in early March at the invitation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a self-effacing economist who met with Bush at the White House last July. In New Delhi on Friday, Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said the planned visit is "really reflective of the very significant transformation that has taken place, and is taking place, in India-U.S. relations."
Saran was speaking at a news conference after meetings with Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns, who was making his third visit to the Indian capital in the last six months. "India is one of the few countries in the world that has the capability to act globally and has the same basic interests as the United States," Burns said in a telephone interview from New Delhi.
The two countries still have important differences. In particular, India has a long history of warm relations with Iran and is pursuing plans to build a natural gas pipeline from Iran across Pakistan, a move that the Bush administration has warned could trigger sanctions against Indian companies under a U.S. law aimed at isolating Iran's Islamic regime. Indian officials say the project is essential to their country's energy security.
Partly for that reason, India has walked a tightrope in its handling of the standoff between Iran and the United States over allegations that Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons.
India's reluctance to dance entirely to Washington's tune stems in part from the influence of political parties opposed to the Bush administration's policies on Iraq and free trade.
One of the most important tests of the new relationship centers on the agreement signed by Bush and Singh in Washington last July that would give India access to nuclear fuel and reactors to produce electricity. Under the deal, the United States would lift a ban on the sale of such technology to India, provided that India opens up its civilian nuclear facilities to international inspections and other safeguards.
That cannot happen, however, until the administration and India agree on a plan to separate the country's civilian and military nuclear facilities. The U.S. Congress would then have to vote on the deal, which critics say would weaken efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons and create perceptions of a double standard in U.S. dealings with such countries as Iran and North Korea.
"The nonproliferation system is built on rules," said Michael Krepon, a specialist on the issue at the Henry L. Stimson Center in Washington. "They're not always honored, but having them makes it easier to gang up on people who break the rules. The approach the administration is taking is very poisonous to all that."
U.S. officials say the deal would strengthen nonproliferation efforts by opening up India's civilian nuclear facilities to outside inspection for the first time. India, they say, is entitled to special treatment in light of its democratic values and exemplary record of preventing nuclear secrets from falling into the wrong hands.
Burns said in the interview that his discussions last week with Indian officials had not yielded a breakthrough on the separation plan, and he made no prediction about whether a deal would be secured in time for Bush's visit. "It's a possibility but not a certainty," he said.
If the deal does fall apart, "a lot of people would be quite happy to say, 'We told you the United States cannot be trusted,' " said C. Raja Mohan, an analyst and commentator in New Delhi.
Other analysts say the relationship would survive such a setback, citing many common interests. Already, they note, India and the United States are working closely to coordinate policy on regional concerns such as instability in Nepal and Bangladesh. "The relationship is going to stand on its own," Burns said.
The goodwill marks a sharp change from the Cold War, when India was a champion of the Non-Aligned Movement and had close ties to the Soviet Union. Relations began to improve in the early 1990s following the Soviet collapse and India's initial moves to liberalize its economy. But they nosedived when the United States imposed sanctions in response to India's 1998 nuclear tests.
The Bush administration lifted the sanctions after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and has promoted India as a new global partner, citing its vast economic potential and status as the world's largest democracy.
Analysts say the White House drive to court India was also influenced by frustration with traditional allies such as France and Germany and concerns over the rising power of China.
The administration has paid special attention to strengthening India's military capabilities.
Since 2002, India and the United States have held a number of naval, air and ground exercises. The latest is being conducted in Chaubatia, an army base that was established by the British Indian Army in the late 19th century in the forested Himalayan foothills about 90 miles northeast of New Delhi. It is now occupied by the Indian army's Kumaon Regiment and, at least through the end of January, by the men of Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, which is part of the 25th Infantry Division out of Scofield Barracks, Hawaii.
Chaubatia is an exotic setting for the exercise, with its striking views of snow-capped peaks, immaculate grounds and road sign alerting drivers that "leopards have right of way."
One morning last week, Atienza, the company commander, lectured Indian soldiers on lessons learned during the battalion's year-long tour of Afghanistan, which ended in March 2004, as an interpreter translated his words into Hindi. In other classes, Indian officers shared their experiences fighting Islamic guerrillas in Kashmir. Later in the day, Indian and American troops converged on a firing range, where they took turns shooting each other's assault rifles at pop-up targets.
In part, the exercise is aimed at bridging cultural gaps between the two militaries. Several American officers, for example, said they had been struck by the relative lack of autonomy vested in Indian soldiers at the platoon level. And an Indian officer, who under Indian army ground rules could not be identified by name, said the U.S. soldiers were "quite relaxed," adding philosophically, "That is their way."


UPI, January 25, 2006

Britain warns India against Myanmar sale

NEW DELHI, Jan. 25
Britain has warned India against the sale of British-made aircraft to Myanmar.
The British High Commission wrote a letter to the Indian foreign ministry ahead of Indian Navy chief Arun Prakash's Jan. 19-22 visit to Yangon, asking him not to continue with the proposed sale of BN-2 Islander aircraft to Myanmar's military junta.
The foreign ministry forwarded the letter to the defense ministry and Navy for necessary action.
According to an Indian Naval official, the Navy is worried the protest might hamper the defense deal with London. India has signed a deal with Britain for the supply of helicopter spares and the cleared sale of 10 second-hand Royal Navy Sea Harriers to replace its Goa-based fleet.
"The letter hinted at the future hitches in military sales if the Islander aircraft sale to Yangon continues," said a foreign ministry official.
The Navy is also worried since there was no resale clause in the contract signed with the British aviation firm Britten-Norman two decades ago.
Officials said Yangon wanted to acquire the aircraft for maritime surveillance and aerial ambulance missions.
"The letter from British High Commission forced the Navy to keep its chief's visit a low key affair," said the official.
The Myanmar government has proposed the creation of permanent deputation posts for the Indian Navy in Myanmar to train that country's soldiers and officials in weapons and sensors, engineering and offshore operations.
Yangon also invited Indian officials to visit and inspect Chinese-built ports.


The News International, January 25, 2006

Pakistan: Can we say no to Uncle Sam?

By M.B. Naqvi

Pakistan's Prime Minister is in Washington and is meeting with the American President. What exactly will transpire in the meeting we may never know. But the fact is that both sides are in the process of reviewing and enlarging their mutual relations against the backdrop of news items purporting to show Pakistan being assigned greater responsibilities in Afghanistan from April onwards.
This would be a repeat of the 1970s when the American CIA and Pakistani officials colluded for action in Afghanistan that finally resulted in the Russian invasion of that country in December 1979, after which Pakistan played a supposedly heroic role in defeating the Soviets. All Pakistanis know what the outcome of that war was. True, there are many generals in Pakistan who take pride in having done what they did in the 1980s, despite the fallout of the Afghan events on Pakistani society, politics and economy.
We are again in the same alley, talking things over with Uncle Sam that, apart from policing Afghanistan and safeguarding the interests of America and its friends. This may include Pakistan doing this or that vis-à-vis any possible American or Israeli action against Iran. The Iranian stances are likely to come up in more than one context, not excluding the question of the gas pipeline from that country to India via Pakistan and Iran's alleged nuclear transgressions being referred to the UN Security Council.
Insofar as the Pakistani administration is concerned, what it is interested in is market access in America, to start with. Pakistan wants more opportunities for trading with the US on an equal, if not preferential, footing. It certainly wants more FDIs and other investments from American corporations and Pakistani expatriates. Then, Mr Shaukat Aziz would also discuss the recent Damadola incident in which at least 13 Pakistani men, women and children were killed. Some remonstrations by him would be in order: that by doing such things the US gravely embarrasses General Musharraf's administration. And such actions ultimately promote terrorism and not eliminate it.
Probably he must also have repeated the demand of Pakistan being treated on an equal footing with India in the matter of civilian nuclear reactors; Pakistan surely wants to import some nuclear reactors too, as its recently announced ambitious programme requires. Actually, Islamabad dislikes being excluded from the kind of nuclear cooperation that the US envisages with India under last July's Indo-American agreement, but knows that here the US cannot possibly oblige. It may also have made the age-old demand for more military equipment, including the F16s. However, the political content of the bilateral talks, whether or not that find mention in the joint statement, is centred on political matters like American plans for India, Iran and of course, Afghanistan.
What has not been announced by either Washington or Islamabad is the precise subjects of discussion in Washington by the PM, or, for that matter, what Nicholas Burns will negotiate in Islamabad. One has already mentioned the subject of the growth of cooperation over Afghanistan. The American behaviour in the Damadola bombing should also be mentioned. But the indications are that the Americans must have repeated what they have been saying in public: "Pakistan has to realise that America is at war and that its generals and policymakers cannot be dissuaded from continuing the hot pursuit of their enemy. If that happens to be in Pakistan territory, it can't be helped."
Doubtless, Pakistanis would anyhow like to explore the limits, if any, of the Indo-American cooperation, especially in the field of atomic reactors and other related matters. One cannot ignore the permanent Pakistani wish that was sure to have found expression regarding ever more economic and military aid and some forcing of India to negotiate over Kashmir.
The basic fact must be remembered: the Americans are not the most popular foreigners in Pakistan. There has been a grudging acceptance in Pakistan that, after 9/11, a U turn in Pakistan's policies vis-à-vis Afghanistan was unavoidable. But that has created much bitterness and a sort of impotent rage against Uncle Sam. However, it finds no clear expression in Pakistani state actions. Nobody has demanded a review of Pakistan's American policy. But, also, only a few are prepared to concede that the original policy of colluding with the Americans over Afghanistan or promoting the Taliban was wrong. Some do argue that if it was not wrong in the 1970s and 1980s, how can be it wrong today? And yet there are far too many inconsistent anti-Americans here, led by yesteryear's collaborators, the Islamic (extremist) parties, though most liberals also rail against American imperialism.
Let's keep in view what the US is asking now. One has already mentioned the US desire to have its Afghan burdens lightened by Pakistani soldiers on a perhaps longer-term basis so that the GIs now grounded in Afghanistan can be freed for action elsewhere. One has also mentioned the possibilities of American and Israeli military action against Iran. It is impossible that Pakistan would not be asked to do this or that in this context. The Americans will perhaps in time agree with Pakistan on the question of civilian nuclear reactors; the US has too many obsolescent reactors. It can do good business selling them to Pakistan and obliging it. But what would Pakistan be asked to do as a political quid pro quo for this generosity should also be examined.
Pakistan must also have asked for US help to not only continue the Composite Dialogue with India but to make it more meaningful. That must have been music to American ears. The point is there is little chance of a deal with America on overall military cooperation; it goes against the grain of the Indo-American honeymoon. The sane and longer-term interest of Pakistan demands that it does not entangle itself in Afghanistan further. Nor do anything to alienate Iran or the Shanghai Six. In short, can Pakistanis say no to American wishes?
One recognises the difficulties involved; most Pakistani political classes, including the generals and bureaucrats, cannot conceive of life without American aid and some support. American aid and support includes some handouts and aid from its friends as well as IFIs (international financial institutions) like the World Bank, the IMF and their subsidiaries. The government believes Pakistan cannot do without these crutches.
But the case for saying no is unassailable if Pakistan wants to have a respectable, indeed, independent, future. Despite the Iraq and Afghanistan setbacks, the US remains on an imperial course that can only benefit America, while forcing Pakistan to accept the role of a bag carrier. Many so-called realists persuasively argue that the US is no longer able to carry through the full programme that was involved in the neocon ideas embodied in US official documents like the Annual Strategy Papers or the Twenty-first Century Project. One argues that there is bipartisan agreement over broad strategic objectives that the US would follow. There are scarcely any coherent alternative strategic purposes being articulated by George Bush's challengers. The next US president will, willy nilly, remain committed to the same broad goals, only slightly amended and, of course, much reworded. The US wants only to benefit some more by preserving the unipolar world and all that this involves.
What Pakistan gets by becoming an ally or, more accurately, remaining America's satellite, is some crumbs from the American table. This gain on the swings will scarcely compensate for the losses on the roundabouts in Pakistani cities. That will be a horrible political cost. In the ultimate analysis, that role will make more difficult for Pakistan to become democratic, peaceful and united. It is important that we find ways of saying no – as courteously and respectfully as anyone may like -- but still a no.

index, January 24, 2006

Pakistan PM Warns Against Arms Race in Asia

By P. Parameswaran, Agence France-Presse, Washington

Surrounded by giants India and China and amid concerns over neighboring Iran's nuclear ambitions, Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz warned Jan. 23 against an arms race in the region.
"As a nuclear weapons state, we adhere to the doctrine of minimum credible deterrence and are opposed to any nuclear proliferation as well as an arms race in the region," he told a Washington forum.
Aziz, here for talks with U.S. President George W. Bush and other senior administration officials, said Pakistan had proposed a "strategic restraint regime" to prevent an arms race and ensure that stability was maintained in the region.
He noted that arch rival India's nuclear tests in 1998 forced Pakistan "to respond in order to establish a credible nuclear deterrence.
"Failure to do so could have created a dangerous ambiguity about our capacity and could have led to possible miscalculations," he said, stressing that Pakistan wanted to be an "anchor of peace and stability in the region."
Aziz did not speak of any new threats posed by India or other neighbors but emphasized without elaborating that any induction of anti-ballistic missile systems would have a destabilizing impact on the entire region.
The region is bristling with missiles.
India, flush with success of its medium-range ballistic missile, is reportedly developing an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Pakistan has developed and tested a number of missiles, while China, far ahead of others in the missile race in the region, has an arsenal of short and long-range missiles.
On Iran, Aziz said relations with the fellow Islamic nation were "guided by compulsion of geography and history."
"We would like to work with Iran for peace and stability in the region and would welcome Iran's role as a responsible player to this end," he said.
Regarding the Iranian nuclear policy, he said Pakistan had clearly stated its opposition to nuclear weapons proliferation "but we respect Iran's right to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy" under safeguards imposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear watchdog.
Aziz said Russia and China should play a "constructive" role in resolving the current nuclear crisis involving Iran, adding that force should be avoided at all costs.
"We oppose any resort to use of force, as this would aggravate the already troubled situation in the region," he said.
Allaying concerns over Pakistan's nuclear capability, the banker-turned-prime-minister said his country is "committed to the prevention of nuclear proliferation."
It "has developed a strong command and control structure to protect our strategic assets as well as effective export controls to ensure against nuclear leakage," he said.
During a visit to Washington last year, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had expressed concern that religious extremists could seize Pakistan's nuclear assets should President Pervez Musharraf be replaced.
Aziz also made a pitch for Pakistan's peaceful use of nuclear energy, as the United States and India are busy negotiating a firm agreement for American transfer of civilian nuclear technology to New Delhi.
Bush and Indian Prime Minister Singh signed a landmark deal paving the way for such an agreement.
"We believe that no restrictions should be imposed on the peaceful use of nuclear energy under appropriate safeguards," Aziz said.
"As a fossil fuel-deficit country, we need to develop nuclear power generation to meet the growing needs of energy required for our expanding economy. We are prepared to accept all safeguards for our civilian nuclear power sector," he said.

index, January 23, 2006

India Taps 5 Contenders For Copter EW Systems

By Vivek Raghuvanshi, New Delhi

The Indian Ministry of Defence has short-listed five defense companies to supply an unspecified number of electronic warfare (EW) systems for the Army’s Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH). Requests for proposals will be issued early next month to Israel Aircraft Industries, Tadiran Electronic Systems and Rafael Armament Development Authority, all of Israel; France’s Thales Communications; and Sweden’s Ericsson Microwave Systems. The helicopter EW system contract is worth more than $100 million. The Indian Defense Forces currently have 56 ALHs, designed andmanufactured by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), Bangalore.
Meanwhile, the Army’s ALH fleet was grounded earlier this month after defective systems forced a civil variant to make an unscheduled landing. A rotor-blade replacement program began Jan. 15, and the fleet should be back in the air by March, a HAL official said. The replacement will cost about $5 million for the fleet. Conditions for the EW system purchase include providing an electronic support package so Indian technicians can repair and maintain the equipment, and extensive system operation training. In addition to the capabilities typical in such EW systems, India wants additional features, including pod-mounted airborne sensors and ground processing stations for information collected in a very dense environment. The EW system will have a data link between ALH-mounted pods and the ground stations to enable rapid delivery of battlespace information, according to an Army procurement official. ALH Grounded A senior Army official said the forced landing of a civil ALH in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh in November was the result of defective hardener and composite materials used to make the rotor blades. After an inquiry by a panel of senior Army, Air Force and Navy officials and HAL executives, it was decided to replace all the rotor blades on India’s fleet and on the one ALH currently with Israel. The Army official added that there will be a thorough inspection each year of the ALH fleet, as 67 percent of the helicopter is composed of composite materials. The HAL official called this a minor incident and said there are no further flaws with the helicopter. He said 400 ALHs will be sold to the Indian Defense Forces, with a civilian demand for 150 ALHs and an untapped export potential. ALH is a multirole, multimission helicopter in the 5.5-metric-ton weight class. In November 2004, it flew at an altitude of 27,000 feet in the Ladakh Himalayas.

index, January 23, 2006

Indian-Developed LCA Will Miss 2007 Production Target

By Vivek Raghuvanshi, New Delhi

Despite nearly 23 years in development, India’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) will not make limited series production by 2007 as planned in a schedule revised late last year. The engine and fuel pump are not yet developed, and the Pulse Doppler Multi-Mode Radar is not ready for installation, say sources at the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA). Current plans call for the Bangalore-based ADA, the nodal agency for LCA development, to fly seven aircraft, including two technical demonstrators and five prototypes, in the next few years. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), Bangalore, had planned to start limited series production by 2007, but sources at the company said it will be another 10 years before that happens. Sources at the ADA said the first prototype vehicle was cannibalized for parts so that the second could make its Dec. 1 test flight.
One ADA official said that four LCA aircraft — the Technology Demonstrators-1 and -2, and Prototype Vehicles-1 and -2 — are flying, but other sources confirmed that Prototype Vehicle-1 was grounded for parts. HAL executives added that the radar, as tested on different aircraft, is not fully operational or ready to be installed on an LCA prototype. The ADA sources said the agency is talking with Israel Aircraft Industries’ Elta Electronics unit about buying another radar to fill the gap. Confidence Low This latest blow to the indigenous program appears to justify the Indian Air Force’s reluctance to order the aircraft. Without firm orders, the cost of the aircraft is questionable, an Air Force official said. The Air Force a year ago pledged to order 40 LCAs, but that has not materialized. HAL executives said that the per-plane cost will rise from the current estimate of $20 million to more than $25 million if orders are not made soon. Nearly $1.5 billion has been spent on the LCA program thus far. An Air Force official said the LCA continues to be plagued by serious technical uncertainties and cost overruns, and there are problems with vital components. Because of developmental problems with the indigenous Kaveri engine, the prototypes and the limited series production aircraft will be powered by General Electric’s F404 engine. Sources in India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which is developing the Kaveri engine, said the group is looking for overseas collaboration to complete the engine. This, they say, is an admission that the engine is facing serious problems. DRDO began the Kaveri project at Gas Turbine Research Establishment, Bangalore, 17 years ago. A Defence Ministry official said the DRDO has begun negotiations with several engine manufacturers, including Snecma of France; Rolls-Royce of the United Kingdom; General Electric, CMF International and Pratt and Whitney, all of the United States; and NPO Saturn and MMPP Salute of Russia. He added that the DRDO has asked for an additional $600 million to complete the engine. It has already spent about $400 million on the project. The decision to allocate the additional funds rests with the Finance Ministry, which has yet to move on the issue. The LCA delay has forced the Air Force to reconsider its fleet replacement plans for its aging Russian MiGs. The Air Force has decided to have a mix of aircraft along with the LCA.


Asian Tribune, January 23, 2006

The illusive US arms bazaar

By Atul Cowshish - Syndicate Features

Two roadblocks await the forward move in the Indo-US bilateral relations early in 2006. First, the issue of nuclear cooperation with India may look more uncertain than before with the non-proliferation Ayatollahs in the US and its Congress becoming increasingly hostile to the idea of extending that cooperation with India. An equally big irritant may surface when Washington sits on judgement on what items from its inventory of sophisticated offensive arms to sell to the two major rivals in South Asia­India and Pakistan.
The arms sales do appear to be on, if for no other reason than the fact that the US arms industry is in desperate need of buyers. One thing that can be said with some certainty, going by past experience, is that the US will ‘balance’ the arms sales in the sub-continent. This is something that will please the client state of Pakistan and disappoint those in India who swears by a transformed US that is said to be sincere in befriending us.
'‘Balance' in US sales of arms to India and Pakistan has always meant a tilt in favour of Islamabad. The US now claims that it is cultivating a new post-cold war relationship with India outside its bilateral ties with Pakistan. But that will not prevent the old US theory of ‘balance’ being put into practice.
Only the cover will change: voices are being heard in Washington that by selling arms to India, Washington will be fuelling an arms race in an area where both the rivals are armed with nuclear arms. And as the self-appointed monitor in the sub-continent, the US should not sell any 'offensive' weapons to India, says a powerful lobby, which has a clear anti-India bias.
With plenty of cash flowing from abroad and pledges totally nearly $6 billion after the devastating October 2005 earthquake, Pakistan will certainly be encouraged to buy latest arms from the US which in any case has pledged a $3 billion economic and military package as a trade off for 'cooperation' in the so-called war against terror.
It may be recalled that in 2003, the US had offered Pakistan a $9 billion arms package. Washington also rewarded it in March 2004 by elevating it to the status of non-Nato ally by virtue of which Pakistan becomes eligible for soft loans for leasing the latest American weapons and equipment for research and development purposes. It can expect speedy clearance for import of US arms.
Quake or no quake, Pakistan is almost sure to go on a big arms shopping spree worth billions of dollars in 2006 in the name of ‘matching’ the strength of India’s conventional arms. Earlier it appeared as though Pakistan might defer some of its arms purchase plans, particularly the F-16 fighters in view of the more pressing financial needs in the earthquake hit areas. But cash is no longer a problem with Islamabad. It already has negotiated a $4 billion deal for buying Chinese JF-17 jet fighters and naval boats.
As always, Pakistan has a long shopping list for arms that it is seeking from abroad. US vice president, Dick Cheney, and defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, had made 'unannounced' visits to Pakistan in quick succession to assure the military rulers that they continue to enjoy American affections and their roguish activities will continue to be overlooked. The Americans are not going to raise the question of priority for quake relief should Pakistan announce its plans to buy huge quantity of arms and equipment from the US in 2006.
What is more, nearly every item that Pakistan wants may be made available to it. The US had lifted the arms sanctions on Pakistan soon after 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington by Islamist terrorists (who had a Pakistani connection too). At that time the main item that Pakistan wanted to buy from the US was a fleet of 16 F-16 jet fighters that, in fact, had already been contracted for. Since then Pakistan has considerably expanded its shopping list and included nearly all the items that India too is keen to buy from the US. These include P3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft, PAC-3 anti-missiles and electronic warfare systems.
In May 2005, the Pentagon had informed the US Congress that it would let Pakistan buy 300 ‘Sidewinder’ heat-seeking air-to-air missiles and 60 Harpoon missiles. Their total value exceeds $225 million. Pakistan has also expressed a desire to buy 75 new models of F-16s. Under the excuse of fighting Al Qaeda fugitives, Pakistan has already received many sophisticated surveillance and military equipment from the US free of charge.
India too has shown interest in buying a large American variety of new arms and equipment. But the Bush administration is yet to take a decision on what it is willing to sell to India. The US decision is not entirely driven by commercial considerations when it relates to sale of certain arms and equipment to India that Pakistan alleges will disturb the ‘balance’ in the sub-continent. That India’s defence and security needs cannot be judged with the Pakistani prism does not matter to the decision makers in Washington.
A 2003 agreement between India and the US that goes by the grandiose name of 'next step in strategic partnership' is meant to enhance bilateral ties in various fields, including military. To be sure, the US has 'offered' cooperation in many strategic areas, including the sale of some sophisticated arms.
Nothing big seems to be in the pipeline even after almost three years of this new relationship. The US allows the veto right to Islamabad in the sale of any 'offensive' weapon of US make or design to India, even if that equipment is manufactured in a third country.
India's interest in US weapons is part of the process of diversifying the sources. India is no longer keen to put all its eggs in the Russian basket after it was found that spares for many vital Russian equipment were not available easily or in time. But India continues to be more interested in purchasing defence equipment from suppliers who are willing to transfer technology. This is another no-go area as far as the Americans are concerned, if it means transferring cutting-edge technology to India.
In the name of civilian nuclear cooperation with India it appears the US is going to transfer­the Congress permitting-- nothing but dated or untested and untried technology. India can hardly expect America to be generous in selling its latest 'offensive' armed equipment unless it can sell the same to its MFN ally in the region.


South Asian Against Nukes, January 23, 2006

While the spotlights are on Middle East, the world has turned a blind eye to the Indo-Pakistan nuclear arms race!

by MB Naqvi

While many in the world are greatly exercised by nuclear weapons proliferation in the Middle East, there is the nuclear arms race spiraling up all the time between India and Pakistan. Hardly a day passes either of them tests on adapted missile. Why do they do these tests? Is it not to see if the adaptation for the new warhead is successful?
True, not many are talking about this arms race largely because of two reasons. There is little that anyone can do anything meaningful about the populous South Asia. Secondly, all others have left it to the sole superpower to tackle this problem and which is doing it its own way.
In practice, the US has made both countries its allies - of different kinds. It is in a close alliance with Pakistan in its War on Terror. It is also assiduously cultivating India, promising all manner of aid to it under a Military Cooperation Framework agreement with a view to enabling it to become a major global power. The US has also agreed to sell India up to eight civilian nuclear reactors for power generation on the condition of putting all its civilian nuclear programme under IAEA inspections after separating it from its military-oriented programme. This would enable India to enjoy all the privileges of a recognized nuclear state without signing the NPT. This implied, indeed de facto, recognition of being a nuclear power would mean the lifting of all sanctions on it without paying much of a price.
Where does that leave South Asia? "These two nuclear-armed countries were actively at each other's throats since a few months after their emergence as independent nations while adversarial perceptions are the warp and woof of their state-building. They have ran an unending arms race from day one. It has been accelerating ever since. But in May 1998 this arms race began spiraling after both test exploded 11 nuclear weapons. While popular expectation was that a few atomic weapons would so deter each other that expenditures on conventional armaments could be reduced", said Prof Pervez Hoodbhoy, a noted physicist and peace and human rights campaigner.
"The idea that a few atomic bombs could both keep peace between India and Pakistan and enable them to reduce defence expenditure was deliberately fed by the Bomb lobbies in either countries. It was predicated on an overly simplistic notion. The fact of the matter is that nuclear weapons are by their very nature evil; they are the weapon of ultimate destruction, a weapon of only offence that has no known defence, all talk of anti missile defence systems notwithstanding", said Hoodbhoy.
He also noted that "it is the nature of the Bomb that creates a mayhem even in thought processes. Since there is no defence against it, its presence in an adversary's arsenal destroys trust in a radical kind of way. No assurance from that adversary can ever be trusted. What nations do, and have done, is to counter the nuclear menace with one's own."
"But this weapons is conceived in secrecy and is developed by deception. Nobody declares what minimum amount of such weapons it has or will have. There is no known case of any détente between nuclear adversaries because one dismisses the actual agreements between the Soviets and the USA as inapplicable elsewhere. The Soviets found themselves in a tight economic situation in which they could not continue their arms build up. They had to have a détente at any price and because of that compulsion they made concession after concession that an ordinary nuclear power would not make. The Americans made no substantive concession. In point of fact the Americans merely won the race with the adversary being knocked out by itself", said Hoodbhoy.
Prof Hoodbhoy explained India-Pakistan case: "look at the way the two nations went to near war situation in 2002, not to mention the quarter war over Kargil in 1999. More than a million troops confronted each other across international border and the LoC in Kashmir. The Indians made as if they would invade and their threat was credible to both friend and foe. The fact that a war did not break out in 2002 owes itself to several factors. But the chief among them was that India did not really know what would happen if it did go to war with Pakistan and gained the upper hand at some stage as the power balance showed. Pakistanis had threatened at least thirteen times to use their nukes in any difficult situation."
Hoodbhoy went on "the Indians, for calling off the bluff of Pakistani generals said they would press ahead with the war, the threat of atomic warfare or no threat. But apart from the mediatory role played by the US, the real reason that compelled India to stay its hand was that it simply could not take the risk of led conventional war escalating into atomic one. Irrespective of the nuclear doctrine of either country, India simply could not afford to take the risk of having a few of its cities wiped which is what might have happened, if an atomic exchange had taken place. Who fired when would be irrelevant. What damage Pakistan suffers would not be a solace to the Indians for the loss they would suffer. Hence there was no war and Indians were happy to oblige the Americans in arranging a mutual withdrawal through the promise of talks about peace."
Both countries are in the same condition three years down the line. Both kinds of arms races are proceeding in parallel: Hoodbhoy said, "conventional arms race has received considerable impetus from two separate factors. In the case of India their military build up is independent of Pakistan and is predicated on their fascination for becoming a global military power. Pakistan has no such pretensions. Nor can it have. But generations of administrators have grown up and retired after independence. Adversarial attitudes, assumptions and purposes form part of their mental make up in both countries. That makes Pakistani state blindly imitate the Indians. This is foolish and beyond the means of Pakistan. Pakistanis ought to take a lesson from the experience of Soviet Union; the latter imploded, despite the plenitude of nuclear and conventional armaments. It is the economy that matters."
"The American strategy supposedly promotes nuclear nonproliferation and wants to manage both India and Pakistan. What the American policy has achieved is the contrary of these objectives. It is true that Americans cannot be blamed for India or Pakistan going nuclear. They did it on their own and for their own purposes, mistaken though they may have been. First the two countries became nuclear powers to reckon with; they do not possess nuclear weapons symbolically; they possess them in cognizable numbers that make them significant military powers", averred Hoodbhoy.
"Insofar as Pakistan is concerned, it has no business competing with India, Pakistanis ought to wake up and take a lesson from the Soviet experience. They have to de-link their policies from what India does or does not do. Pakistan has to look towards its own economy and its shortcomings. It is far too underdeveloped and there is mismatch between the military development and the state of the society and the economy. Pakistanis have already lost a great deal through constant militarisation - a militarisation that is not confined to the growth of the military. It extends to society becoming militarized, social morals being affected and economy being undermined and the country coming under the sway of the military like any banana republic", concluded Hoodbhoy.
That has a lesson for both India and Pakistan. They need to think creatively and purposefully.


The Hindu, January 20, 2006

Saran, Burns hold talks on nuclear deal

NEW DELHI: Implementation of the July 18, 2005 civilian nuclear deal between India and the United States came up for discussion between Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and U.S. Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns here on Thursday. Official sources said the two sides discussed India's plan to separate its civilian and nuclear facilities. Ahead of the current talks, Indian officials had said they expected the U.S. to react to the separation plan Mr. Saran presented to Mr. Burns in Washington. Speaking to the press in Mumbai on Wednesday, Mr. Burns conceded that it was an enormously difficult task for India to separate its civilian and nuclear facilities. "And that is at the heart of these negotiations, and I will be getting into details of that with my friend Foreign Secretary Saran tomorrow [Thursday] morning," he said in Mumbai. There was no official word from the Indian side on the content and scope of the discussions. While the separation plan has been revealed to the Americans, there has been no information from New Delhi on what exactly the exercise entails. Mr. Burns and the U.S. Ambassador to India, David Mulford, met Mr. Saran separately, before the two sides began delegation level talks. The talks lasted over four hours, the sources said. Apart from the nuclear deal, the Americans want to discuss the Iran issue with India. With the Americans and the Europeans taking the lead in taking the Iran issue to the United Nations Security Council, Washington would obviously want New Delhi to vote against Teheran again. As Mr. Burns held talks with Mr. Saran, a visiting German official, on behalf of the "E.U. three" (which also includes Britain and France) said India shared concerns about the nature of Iran's "nuclear programme." According to the official, a critical stage had been reached as far as Iran, and the "international community" was concerned. Michael Schaefer, political director in the German Foreign Ministry, told presspersons that the military option was not on the table and the "international community" did not want a confrontation with Iran.


Asian Age, January 20, 2006

'A.Q. Khan episode is a lesson'

New Delhi, Jan. 20: In what he believes should be a wake-up call for proponents of non-proliferation, the Netherlands Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, on Friday said there is a need to learn from the "A.Q. Khan episode" and devise appropriate international strategies to deal with similar cases in future. "There is a need to draw important lessons from the past and work for a safer world (because) it is not a regional issue; there is a worldwide dimension (to it)," Mr Balkenende told reporters before his scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "We know what the risks are, therefore more international strategies (should be devised.) If the world is not united, situation (will persist)," he said in response to the concerns expressed about proliferation of nuclear technology by the Pakistani scientist to third countries. Voicing similar concern at the cooperation in civil nuclear energy between India and the US, Mr Balkenende said it was important for the Netherlands that India "cooperate with the IAEA." "Please take into account the IAEA," he said, explaining that the Dutch were more concerned about the "problem of nuclear waste" than nuclear energy itself. "Nuclear energy is clean but waste (is a problem)," he said. He, nevertheless, clarified that there was a "new orientation" to be seen toward nuclear energy in his country. He cited the lease of life given to a nuclear plant in Netherlands to buttress his point. "This nuclear plant was to be closed in 2013 but it has been decided that period will be extended (by 20 years) to 2033," Mr Balkenende said.


t r u t h o u t, January 19, 2006

Demilitarization, a distant dream in Kashmir

by J. Sri Raman

De-nuclearization of the India-Pakistan sub-continent may appear a distant dream, but how about a demilitarization of Kashmir, the main bone of contention between the two countries? The common Kashmiris may have hoped for this modest outcome from the "peace process" through its two years of tortuous progress. The hope has once again proven unfounded.
The demilitarization proposal has come up several times through the process, but has never proceeded much beyond the stage of preliminary discussion or merely a promise. The latest of the proposals from Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has fared no better.
On January 7, in a media interview in Islamabad, Musharraf aired the idea of a demilitarization of three "key towns" in Kashmir - Srinagar, Kupwara and Baramullah - as the first step in a formula aimed at solving the issue by placing the disputed area under joint control and administration. Within two days, New Delhi made its rejection of the proposal clear beyond mistake.
The official ground cited for the rejection was that the deployment of troops within a state of India could not be decided by or in consultation with a foreign government. Unofficially, the President had ensured the rejection of his own proposal with the rider he added to it. Musharraf could not have been unaware of the consequences of his statement that after the demilitarization he was demanding, Islamabad would ensure freedom from violence for these towns.
In India's media, this was immediately interpreted as amounting to an admission of Pakistan's responsibility all along for the terrorist violence in Kashmir. Even to others who might have a more charitable interpretation, Musharraf only seemed to be suggesting that after withdrawal of India's troops, Pakistan's could be sent in case of any need!
This was not the first time Musharraf had proposed demilitarization in Kashmir. He proposed it first way back in October 2004, though without naming any town. At a state dinner for foreign diplomats in Islamabad, he said: "I will leave a food for thought for you. Take Kashmir in its entirety. It has seven regions. Two of the regions are in Pakistan and five are in India.... Identify the region, demilitarize the region forever and change its status."
New Delhi rejected the proposal then on the ground that Musharraf was attempting to make the "peace process" of recent initiation then into a Kashmir-centric one instead of promoting it as a "composite dialogue."
About a year later, in November 2005, the President raised the proposal again - this time in a conversation with US President George Bush in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session. Now he identified two towns for demilitarization. Kupwara and Baramullah. He suggested demilitarization as the first step - and no less than the involvement of the US in the "peace process" as the second stride.
Suspicious critics of the proposal in India then saw more to the suggested demilitarization sites than met the eye. They said: Kupwara and Baramullah, unlike Srinagar and Anantnag, were border areas and faced Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. Demilitarization of these towns, they argued, would in effect mean India's evacuation of the Line of Control (LoC). Significantly, inclusion of Srinagar in Musharraf's list now has not made it any more attractive to the same analysts.
As for India, it promised the beginning of a demilitarization process in November 2004. Proposed withdrawal of an unspecified number of troops from Srinagar (capital of India-administered Jammu and Kashmir) was announced ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the city. A gun battle between the security forces and a couple of militants near the venue of Singh's public rally, however, upset all plans. Troops were withdrawn eventually only from Anantnag - the constituency of Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir at that time - while they were only reinforced in Srinagar.
A two-day meeting of foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan, which ended on Wednesday, was expected to discuss Musharraf's proposal despite its earlier rejection by New Delhi. There has been no word, however, about such a discussion. India's foreign secretary, Shyam Saran, has only asserted that India was, actually, for "a thin deployment" along the entire border and not the LoC in Kashmir alone.
No precise figures are available about the troops in Kashmir. Around 400,000 Indian troops were reportedly present in the state in 1999. The number registered a sharp increase in 2002, which witnessed an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation between the Indian and Pakistani troops along the entire border including Kashmir. Expert estimates put the number of Indian troops then in Kashmir at 700,000. The number of troops withdrawn in 2004 was placed between 1,000 and a few thousands.
As far as the common Kashmiri people are concerned, the "peace process" cannot make its presence felt without a significant reduction, if not a total withdrawal, of the troops. No amount of official propaganda, no media-hyped "healing touch" can convince them that they are not living under an occupation army, so long as the presence of troops, often accused of anti-people atrocities, remains all-pervasive.
A freelance journalist and a peace activist of India, J. Sri Raman is the author of Flashpoint (Common Courage Press, USA). He is a regular contributor to t r u t h o u t.


The News International, January 18, 2006

Pakistan - India:

The third round begins

M.B. Naqvi

After two full rounds, the composite dialogue would soon enter the third. The results so far have been disappointing. True, some Confidence Building Measures have been implemented. The LoC now has five openings, two or three bus services may soon begin and an agreement on two other openings is said to be near that are especially important for Sindh.
But substantive agreements on eight recognised disputes have eluded us. Pakistani ministers and commentators say India has not budged an inch. The basic position remains the same to what it was in 2003. CBMs are a different kettle of fish. India has not given any concession in any of its earlier positions. There is ballyhoo in Pakistan about Musharraf's regime being too flexible; many accuse the Pakistan president of having resiled from the old principled stand: plebiscite under UN auspices. This is not true.
Doubtless, Pakistan was disappointed by recent Indian remarks on Balochistan. The president was 'annoyed' and 'disappointed'. Also true that the president has been thinking outside the box and has shown himself to be very flexible in formulating ever new proposals on Kashmir, almost in a rapid fire fashion. Look at the realities on the ground.
The prime minister provides background music: Pakistan will not permit India free trade or goods transit through Pakistan or allow Indian investors in Pakistan, or free travel by common people. These things are contingent on India providing satisfaction on Kashmir. This is as solid an immobility here as in India's case. Pakistan is simply not flexible, except verbally. Even on Kashmir, Islamabad has not formally given up the old stance. Musharraf is merely suggesting, more or less off hand, various ideas about a possible Kashmir settlement. Objectively, both sides have preferred the situation that resulted from the 2002 crisis to any agreed change. They are happy to keep calibrated tensions alive.
Given the profound failure of foregoing rounds, it is hard to be optimistic about the third. What are the reasons of this failure? Factually, the ruling political classes in the two countries are moving toward different goals. In India there is clarity: it is a big country and wants to play a big role; it wants to become a global military power so that it can influence others and to obtain possible benefits.
In Pakistan there is confusion. Where is the present regime taking Pakistan? Is it going anywhere in particular? Being a military regime it merely wants to survive. Even earlier there was no certainty about the goal being pursued. Ziaul Haq wanted an Islamic dispensation. He probably wanted Pakistan to become a leader of the OIC, as did Z A Bhutto, who also conceived of a prominent role for it in the third world fraternity. The earliest ascertainable goal of Muslim League governments in the 1940s was to unite the Muslim World and hopefully to become its leader. At present there is no clear objective or aim for national endeavour.
One conclusion is inescapable for an impartial observer: political classes in both India and Pakistan are quite happy as things stand. Neither is ready for basic change. The bureaucracies of both countries are in clover vis-a-vis bilateral relations. Every citizen has to humbly beg for a visa. Traders need specific permissions. Bureaucratic control and influence is increasing by the day as the world shrinks and need for contacts multiply.
They both fear more cultural exchanges and actually discourage free travel by the common people, though they do not admit it. These bureaucracies act tough toward the common people. They are flexible enough for opinion leaders and prominent people of the other country. As for common people, they must wait for so many weeks or months for a reply, if they are lucky. The bureaucrats are happy enough without large-scale cultural exchanges or true normality.
It seems that the governments and political classes in both countries are being led by invisible forces. These prosper on hostile attitudes and contrary policies; frequent military tensions serve their interests well. Indeed they actually profit from tensions. Elsewhere they are known as industrial-military complexes or simply vested interests. Clearly the ruling classes stand to become ever more prosperous with the present policies of both states. Their chief aim is to militarise: to become militarily stronger in either country. Military tensions are good for all businesses.
There is a conundrum here: Unless free travel, free trade, transit trade and more cultural exchanges take place, natural trust in each other will continue to elude. Without substantial mutual trust the disputes cannot be resolved. This mistrust is bolstered by old and hostile attitudes and different purposes. The other part of the conundrum is: so long as the present situation lasts, free trade, free travel, transit trade and cultural exchanges cannot take place; these are the very things that are not desired for reinforcing the hostile attitudes and differing purposes. Besides, increasing defence spending directly benefits the vested interests in either country.
The two governments are now part of the problem. Resolution of disputes is desired for encouraging trade and cultural exchanges so that both people can become materially better off and culturally enriched. But hostile attitudes and policies prevent those objectives. The question is why not change this reality? The answer is everything is possible if requisite effort is made. But effort by whom? The governments have tried and have moved in circles. They are back at the point they started from.
The real answer is however simple. It is the ordinary citizens of the two countries who have to conceive new politics that aim at material welfare, happiness and cultural enrichment of all the peoples. The new politics has to specifically extend and deepen the democracy everywhere. Politics must sharply focus on a more active role by the common man. Each government must be forced to focus on all the rights of citizens. The aim should be that the citizen should survive in good health and be educated and employed. Jobs for all are the main means – in short social security for all in both countries.
One is conscious that South Asian countries are poor and populous. Jobs for all seem like a dream. But it may not be. Indians have already introduced a legally enforceable 'employment guarantee' scheme. In the next three years it will cover much of the country, even if only partially. It is a first small step on the road to social security for all. Even this small step is commendable. The purpose of the state should change from power politics (throwing one's weight around) to enabling the people to be free, materially better off with more consumption of food and clothing and some leisure for the population.
Let the country make economic and social progress through better health and education services. The ultimate end can only be cultural enrichment. Each state should necessarily follow policies of reconciliation, de-militarisation by sharply reducing military spending. Defence budgets must come down in both countries. Where democracy does not exist -- as in Nepal and Maldives -- and where it is partial or defective --Bangladesh and Pakistan -- it must be made real that should constantly be extended and deepened.
One last word. A lot of mischief is played by the word stability. What stability? The world is today organised in a most inequitable manner. A few great powers throw their weight around and call the shots even inside the UN. Should these inequities be stabilised? The world must be made more equitable and more law abiding. But by whom? Again by common people in all the states. The need is for a less militarised world and foreign policies of all the major countries should not be about balances of power. Instead they should be about more economic growth and better distribution.

index, January 17, 2006

Indian Navy Receives Upgraded Il-38 Patrol Plane

By Vivek Raghuvanshi, New Delhi

The first of three improved Il-38 maritime anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft has been delivered to the Indian Navy following upgrades in Russia, an Indian Ministry of Defence official said. “The aircraft, equipped with a new state-of-the-art sensors and weapons package, arrived at the naval air station INS Hansa, Dabolim, on Jan. 15,” the official said. The upgrade includes mounting the Sea Dragon common patrol suite, developed by the Leninets company of St Petersburg, on the aircraft. It can track more than 30 targets at one time from a distance of up to 320 kilometers, an Indian Navy official said.
There is a plan to mount the BrahMos cruise missile on the I-38 in the near future, the Navy official said. The fully digital Sea Dragon suite is designed to detect and intercept surface vessels and submarines as well as detect mines and carry out surveillance. The suite also can detect airborne targets and can be linked to the Russian Glonass satellite navigation system, a diplomat of the Russian Embassy here said. The cost to upgrade each plane is about $35 million. All three of the Indian Navy’s Il-38 maritime patrol planes will be upgraded under a contract signed in September 2002. Originally, five aircraft — purchased from the Soviet Union in 1977 — were included in the project, but two Il-38s were lost a month after the contract was signed. India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation has supplied the aircraft’s new electronic intelligence system, electronic countermeasures station system, digital firing decoys and radio communication system.


The Hindu, January 17, 2006

Pakistan Foreign Secretary in Delhi for next round of talks

NEW DELHI: Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Muhammad Khan arrived on Monday for the third round of composite dialogue with his Indian counterpart Shyam Saran. The talks, spread over Tuesday and Wednesday, will review the progress made in the last two rounds of talks and also discuss the key issues of peace and security, including confidence-building measures, and Jammu and Kashmir. Soon after arrival, Mr. Khan expressed hope that his talks with Mr. Saran would move forward in a positive manner. Asked if he had brought any fresh proposals on Kashmir, the Pakistani official said he would not like to pre-judge the content and outcome of his discussions. In a related development, the External Affairs Ministry spokesman, when asked if the recent exchange of words between India and Pakistan would have a bearing on the talks, said: "This is a scheduled meeting. It is the beginning of the third round of the composite dialogue. There is a clear-cut agenda for the meeting. I am sure the discussions will go ahead in the best manner possible." Apart from initiating the third round of the "two plus six" dialogue, the Foreign Secretaries are scheduled to agree on a set of dates for the remaining six issues of Siachen, Sir Creek, Tulbul navigation project/Wular barrage, terrorism and drug trafficking, economic and commercial cooperation and promotion of friendly exchanges. According to the spokesman, the past practice followed for the talks was a review of the previous composite round and separate sessions on peace and security and Jammu and Kashmir. "During their discussion on Jammu and Kashmir, they will ... assess the progress of the confidence-building measures across the LoC [Line of Control] and finalise dates for a technical-level meeting to discuss modalities of ... [implementing earlier] decisions such as the Poonch-Rawalakot bus service, truck service along [the] Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route, meeting points across the LoC and allowing pilgrims across the Line of Control."


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