Thursday, August 28, 2008

Amending the NPT: A Peacenik's Pipedream

Aaron Tavish argues in an op-ed today that India should not try to dodge the NPT but instead propose an amendment to it. Here is what he says:

Instead of trying to sneak around behind the back of the NPT, India should boldly enter through the front door. India should ask one or more of it close allies in the Non-Aligned Movement to propose an amendment to the NPT that has the effect of making India a nuclear-weapon state. It could be the most concise amendment in the history of diplomacy, changing just two digits in the Treaty’s definition of a nuclear-weapon state: “For the purposes of this Treaty, a nuclear-weapon State is one which has manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to 1 January 196775.” In one stroke, all the problems of Article I compliance and the 1995 decision relating to full-scope safeguards would be resolved, and for India alone.

The consensus requirement would also be reduced. The NPT amendment process allows for an amendment conference on the basis of requests from just one-third of the States Parties — any one-third. Adoption of the amendment requires ratification by a simple majority, but not just any majority. Article VIII(2) of the treaty requires the majority to be “of the votes of all the Parties to the Treaty, including the votes of all nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty and all other Parties which, on the date the amendment is circulated, are members of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency.” While amending the NPT is a more far-reaching decision than approving a safeguards agreement, the favourable treatment recently accorded the India-specific agreement by the 35-member Board of Governors makes this requirement less daunting than the 45-member NSG consensus requirement.

What a joke. If getting the safeguards agreement itself is being so hard despite the support of the US, does he seriously expect an amendment to the NPT to be passed, that too without American involvement? The countries that are objecting to the agreement currently are also those who are wary of making any exception on any ground to any country lest others too might demand the same. Does he seriously believe that changing the cut-off date to 1975 from 1967 will actually fly given that the same nations would see the effort as undermining the very basis of the accord? The main objection right now is that approving the accord would set a bad precedent for other countries such as Pakistan but doing what he asks would open a Pandora's box for other countries, many of which joined many years after the treaty came into being. The suggestion is so preposterous as to merit no more than a contemptuous dismissal. I thought that even N.Ram was sufficiently politically savvy not to waste newsprint on pipedreams of this sort.


Anonymous said...

Buddha apologizes. LiC pretends it never happened.

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has apologised to the CPI-M for speaking against bandhs (shutdowns) and strikes.

reason said...

This op-ed today is a fine example of how to begin well and f*ck up grandly -

It correctly pins the problems on the 'percentage politicians' - recall amar singhji who slept thru the Amarnath meeting. It says it so well that I was surprised to see it in the Chindu -

"But the new power-wielders — alas, like the older ones — have behaved with such apparent indifference to the interests of the nation as a whole that their parochial obsessions and short horizons create increasing dangers for national unity and security. These dangers are made worse by the frightening decline in the ability — or willingness — of the instruments of state action to do their duties"

But it then plumbs the depths by blaming the entire Amarnath controversy on the evil Hindus for asking for a land for temporary loos. Like barbarindians said, the Hindus should have worn adult diapers.