Bush, India and Unsettling New Nuclear Realities

Nixon in China

In a move echoing Nixon’s trip to China, India and the US have announced a groundbreaking nuclear deal, which many have warned as “Nuclear Madness” helping to accelerate dangerous nuclear proliferation. “Unsettling” this thought is, the reality is that nuclear proliferation cannot be stopped, so the US must well to play the nuclear card when it can. The hope is that this deal is the beginning of growing closer ties between the two world’s leading and largest democracies, which includes the recognition of a new Core power into the fold of the Core states.

The great challenge is for the Post-Bush Administration to carry on with increasing US ties with India for the Bush Administration and the one after to resist temptations to make India a bulwark against China. India is too confident, important and practical to be a pawn for the US; hopefully, the US will not only recognize that, but can see India as a way for bringing more stability to the South Asia and its neighboring region and expanding the Core. India should not play any role in competing against China, but rather help bring China in to the Core as a responsible and productive partner.

Click here for further analysis including sections on:
– Nuclear Fears
– Risking Nuclear Issues for New Realities
– India and the Anglosphere? And What about China?

Related Past Postings:

1. Needed in Asia: Security and Energy Cooperation
2. Year of Chinese-Indian Friendship…on Oil?
3. Getting India Right : Recreating the Anglosphere

Nuclear Fears
The grand deal between India and the US on India’s nuclear program was seen as a major concession by the US to India (at what many say, a high cost), as the Economist (March 02) reports:

Details of the final separation plan have yet to be made public. It is understood to list as civilian 14 out of 22 reactors, accounting for some 65% of india’s nuclear-power capacity. India will have the right to choose how to classify any future reactors. In return for assurances about the supply of nuclear fuel, it has accepted that once it has put a nuclear facility under international safeguards, it will not be able to withdraw it. These arrangements—giving India far more leeway than America had been demanding—may not be enough to enable Mr Bush to fulfil his offer to amend American laws and persuade other countries to change international rules which prevent nuclear trade with states that do not accept full safeguards.

Many fear that the weakening of the NPT and nuclear proliferation will be the prime consequence of the nuclear deal, especially considering questions on India’s nuclear weapons ambitions. The Economist notes that India has arguing against any agreement that would cap their ability to rapidly produce plutonium (fast-breeder reactor), raising fear of India’s nuclear ambitions especially when it initially stated that it would produce only enough to deter as a defensive weapon. Bob Herbert of NY Time, expresses such fears, when he calls the US-India nuclear deal “Nuclear Madness

Additionally, there’s the question of the difference between India and Iran (despite that fact has signed the NPT, and India has not signed the NPT). Indeed, this Monday, the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns stated that “while Tehran was trying to extricate itself from the obligations to the IAEA, India was moving towards it. ‘India is the responsible one, Iran is the irresponsible one,’ he said.”

Risking Nuclear Issues for New Realities
While everyone has been concentrating on the nuclear consequences, especially on nuclear proliferation vis-à-vis Iran and North Korea, a wider dimension is required than the limited view of nuclear weapons.

As William Langewiesche of the Atlantic has pointed out proliferation is at the “Point of No Return”, so any analysis on the Indian nuclear deal must understand that the risk of proliferation is not as great when measured against getting building a relationship with a major New Core power.

The Economist does rightfully warns that are “there are plenty of opportunities for the world’s richest democracy and its largest to cement their friendship. Helping India to hone its nuclear skills is hardly a good place to start.” However, its misses the point that China, Russia and Japan can also offer India business deals and even coordination on hydrocarbon energy policy, but blessings on a nuclear program is something only the United States can do at this time.

If the US can reach out to India by addressing its security needs – especially difficult considering India’s energy dealing and stance on Iran and on US relationship with Pakistan – the US can then take the next steps of furthering and sealing economic ties, helping solidify India’s place in the Core and in the Anglosphere. Indeed, beyond helping India both modernize and normalize its nuclear energy program, what else does the US offer that China, Japan and Russia cannot readily offer as well?

Security has to be the foundation of a US-India and eventually an Anglosphere alliance, economics and energy will help solidify it.

India and the Anglosphere, but what about China?
Stephen Green of VodkaPundit is a little too eager when he announces “Welcome to the Anglosphere, India” last Thursday, a single deal wont make an Anglosphere with India a fait compli. But, its a great step indeed.

A number of pundits have commented on India as a potential counterweight against China. This is seen not only by folks in the US but Australia, Indonesia, Japan and others. But this is a false a dangerous hope.

Firstly, China is not a threat as long as it can become ever more integrated with the Old and New Core in the economics. An embraced China is less of a threat than an encircled stubborn China.

Secondly, India (like China) are too much of pragmatist and confident to acquiesce itself as a pawn in Washington’s game. India is recognizing its place in the world as a major partner and will pursue its interests as it sees fit, even if it means friction with the US.

The Bush Administration risked nuclear proliferation and the NPT to bring closer ties with India, recognizing that a new world paradigm is shaping up. Hopefully, the Bush Administration and one after take the next step to not only strengthen ties with India but also reach out to China.


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