Saturday, September 06, 2008

First Thoughts on NSG Waiver

The NSG waiver finally clears the decks for India to engage in nuclear commerce with the world. Political reactions were varied as expected. The Congress went into hyperbole while the BJP repeated the questions it has raised before. Given the sequence of events at the NSG that led to this approval, India cannot afford to be under any illusion that it will be able to conduct another test and continue to keep its waiver - that will almost certainly trigger the end this deal and everything associated with it (claiming that even if the US were to sanction us, other countries may be willing to play ball is simply unrealistic). Sinha's point that India has surrendered the right to conduct future tests is, in practice, therefore close to the truth.

The text is yet to be made available and analyses may be expected to follow in the days to come. Daryl Kimball has posted his view already. He makes one noteworthy claim: "In addition, in the course of the NSG meeting, the United States confirmed that participating NSG governments expressed assurances that they did not intend to transfer enrichment or reprocessing technology to India." If this is true, then the expectation seems to be that other countries will toe the US line in terms of what they will or will not sell to India. Any notion that India can somehow manage to circumvent US arms control regulations may also end up being belied by events.

The CPI, citing Pranab Mukherjee's statement yesterday, preposterously claimed that India has surrendered its right to future research and development! Apparently, the party is not talking about conducting future nuclear tests but of our research efforts for Thorium-based technology, something not pertinent to the issue here. One can read Mukherjee's full statement on the MEA website - there is absolutely no mention of R&D at all.

China, it turns out, was one of the last holdouts waiting to be convinced about the deal (see this news item). Apparently, it took a call from Condoleeza Rice for the Chinese to give the final okay to the text of the deal. It was previously reported that though China was not taking the lead in opposing it, the other holdouts like Austria and New Zealand were working with its tacit support. I am driven to speculate from this: did China have something to do with the communists' unrelenting opposition to this deal? Is that also the reason The Hindu has been actively promoting opposition to the deal by prominently and extensively publishing letters against it? The paper has no doubt provided space for various points of view in its op-eds but for one thing, there have been more articles against it than in its favor and secondly, the 'Letters to the Editor', a fairly accurate bellweather of the prevailing editorial sentiment clearly points to an antagonism belying its initial disposition to the contrary.


Bhranthan said...

Chindu recently has been pushing Shabana Azmi's idea that Muslims are discriminated and her vicious claim that she did not get a house in Mumbai because she is a muslim!

Chindu published more than 30 letters from its "readers" and of course they clearly gave preference to the letters that support Azmi (I did a quick count; about 70% of the letters supported Azmi).

Now last week Naseeruddin Shah seems to have spoken against Azmi and have exposed her vicious propaganda. I did not see this news in Chindu nor in other papers

excerpts from Naseeruddin Shah's interview report :

“I have never felt any discrimination. I have never been refused housing in Bombay. I have lived there in all kinds of conditions from a paying guest, sharing with six people to having two apartments of my own. I have never had these problems. I don’t deny that these problems exist, but I don’t think that Muslims are exclusively the victims,”

“The less we nurse this persecution thing, the better it will be,” Shah told NDTV news channel on its programme India 60 Minutes.

He added: “I think that when the occasion arises, anyone is discriminated against. I can cite instances when Hindus have been discriminated against;

Anonymous said...

that chindu has already started protecting China has already become evident in today article by Siddharth Varadarajan. He is at pains to disclose that China had already given its consent to the Indian Counterparts, notwithstanding the NSA (Narayanan)expressing his unhappiness with the Chines position on the NSG waiver


Anonymous said...

China played spoilsport in NSG meet

The biggest surprise element for India in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) deliberations was the role played by China which at the last minute spoke out against granting a waiver to India. ( Watch )

After the NSG waiver, National Security Advisor M K Narayanan told reporters that India would take up the issue with China. For India the opportunity to express displeasure with Beijing’s spoiler role in the NSG presents itself as early as Sunday when Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi touches down in India for an official visit.

China, which refused to give India any commitment on supporting the waiver, quietly opposed the waiver on the first day of the meeting. With the group of six countries managing to put up an impressive opposition to the waiver, China was quick to jump on to the naysayers bandwagon which included Austria, Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway and Austria.

By day two of the NSG deliberations, the Chinese representatives were openly making attempts to delay the waiver. The Chinese side asked why countries were being pressured to agree to the waiver, which would allow India’s entry into the nuclear club.

It is understood that US and Indian officials held meetings with the Chinese in a bid to keep them from derailing the waiver and adding weight to the non proliferation enthusiasts. The intense US pressure and last minute contact at the highest political level is said to have stopped Beijing from blocking the waiver.

Even after the waiver, China is understood to have raised questions on a number of issues. In the first reaction to China’s role in the NSG, Mr Narayanan expressed surprise with China’s position and said that the opposition was not ideological like the group of six countries that have a long non proliferation roots.

Pilid said...


You are right - the letters published by the paper are almost certainly not representative of the entire set. The guidelines appear to clearly discriminate against those which contradict the editorial position.


I did see SV's write up in The Hindu today. I did not see any mention of such an assurance by China - could you kindly point it out?

Thanks for pointing that out.

Anonymous said...

In his Article “Waiver enables member states to provide India full civil nuclear cooperation” on the 7th of Sept’2008, SV writes in the penultimate para and the para before it, as follows:

“As the night wore on, tempers on the 27th floor offices of the Japanese mission where the NSG was meeting started getting frayed. As the U.S. worked on individual countries in small committees, most delegates were left ‘hanging around’ wondering when the plenary would reconvene. This is when the Chinese delegation, according to an account provided by a European diplomat, grew testy with two senior officials deciding to leave for the day, leaving behind their junior colleagues.

“It was clear to us that as long as these countries were a group, they would remain a problem,” a senior Indian official said. “But we also knew none of them wanted to be the last man standing.” So between the United States and India, a determined political effort was made late Friday night to ensure each of the four came on board. The first to agree was China, said the official, and the last New Zealand, with Ireland and Austria also dropping their objections in between. Though the last three communicated their decision to Washington, the official said the Chinese side directly informed India that it intended to back the consensus”

Please note in the earlier para (Last two sentences) SV imputation that the Chinese were the first to agree among the dissenting Countries and directly communicated to their Indian Counterparts. whereas the news we heard was that they walked out of the meeting and did not not vote on the matter.


Pilid said...


No, I think he is only referring to how India got to know of the Chinese acceptance, i.e. indirectly via Washington or directly from the respective countries. I suppose SV's contacts in Vienna were in significant part from the Indian delegation - if so, he must be simply repeating what he heard from our diplomats regarding where they got the news initially from. China, it happens was one of the last countries to give in (after the discussion between Bush and Hu Jintao and following the call by Condi Rice) - the fact is too well known for anyone including SV to suggest otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Any occassion is a good occassion for Harish Khare to preach some morals that we all badly lack.

Learning to behave like a nuclear power

Harish Khare

The NSG waiver does not exempt our leaders from the obligations of moral capital, administrative competence and political honesty.