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Whither the Nuclear Deal?


P.R. Chari


By Prabir Purkayastha, Ninan Koshy, M.K. Bhadrakumar
Leftword, New Delhi, 2007, pp. 135, Rs. 95.00

VOLUME XXXII NUMBER 5 May 2008

This short monograph, tract really, is the tenth in the Signpost series published by LeftWord Books. They have been of a uniformly high standard, while adopting an unqualified Left-liberal perspective. This book also undertakes a polemical analysis of the Indo-US nuclear deal, which the Left parties have criticized on largely ideological considerations. Incidentally, no recent issue has proved as divisive as the Indo-US nuclear deal; it has divided the media, academic and strategic communities in both countries into two camps, promoting or opposing the deal. It would however be unjust to ignore the advantages of the deal on which the two Governments have invested so much political capital.   • First, it would permit India to obtain nuclear and other high technology, denied since May 1974, after India conducted its so-called Peaceful Nuclear Explosion (PNE). This denials regime became stricter after India conducted its five-nuclear-test series in May 1998. The Indo-US nuclear deal would exempt India from these sanctions.   • Second, the deal recognizes India to be ‘a country with advanced nuclear technology.’ It cannot be recognized as a nuclear weapons state under the present Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), despite having performed six nuclear tests to establish its nuclear prowess. However, this new terminology takes India further towards its recognition as a de jure nuclear weapons state with its attendant prestige.   • Third, the deal cements the growing strategic convergence between India and the United States to serve their foreign policy interests and counter an intransigent China. India’s relations with China are, at best, uneasy, and they will remain uneasy since China views India as its chief antagonist in Asia. The nuclear deal will strengthen India’s strategic partnership with the United States.   This book has three essays written by its three authors; what binds them together is their impassioned opposition to the nuclear deal. Their attack on the deal is launched from several directions, but the extremely partisan nature of their attack leaves them open and vulnerable to questioning.   Prabir Purkayastha has made a thoughtful study of the issues involved. He praises the Atomic Energy Commission for establishing India’s nuclear fuel cycle in the teeth of sanctions imposed on India after the 1974 PNE, but fails to discuss why the PNE was conducted when India’s atomic energy programme was technologically immature. He also argues that the Indo-US nuclear deal was mistimed, and that India should have waited ‘for the contradictions within the NPT ...


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