Political Fallout of Indo-US Nuclear Deal Turns Severe

Linked with Praful Bidwai – India.

Published on Znet (IPS), by Praful Bidwai, August 21, 2007.

NEW DELHI, Aug 17 (IPS) – The United States-India nuclear cooperation agreement, tabled in India’s Parliament on Monday, has precipitated the worst-ever political crisis for the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government since it was formed a little over three years ago.

Although the existence of the ‘left-of-centre’ UPA government is not immediately threatened, it has clearly lost the support of the communist parties on this defining foreign and security policy issue.

Support from the 59 members of parliament of the Left parties, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has been critically necessary for the survival of the UPA, which lacks a majority of its own in the 543-strong Lower House of Parliament …

… The Left at least refers to the impact of “123″ on India’s advocacy of universal nuclear disarmament, which the UPA promised to return to in 2004. The Left also mildly questions the relevance of nuclear power, which the deal promotes, to India’s long-term energy security.

“These are strong suits which the Left would do well to develop,” says Vanaik. “This will help it demarcate itself sharply from others. In particular, it should emphasize that the nuclear deal will increase India’s capacity to make nuclear weapons; and this cannot give us more security. On the contrary, it will fuel a nuclear arms race not just with Pakistan but also with China.”

The International Panel on Fissile Materials, a group of independent scientists, estimates that the nuclear deal will allow India to produce and stockpile enough plutonium for more than 300 Nagasaki-type bombs every year. This can be done through reprocessing fuel in unsafeguarded power reactors, diverting domestic uranium from civilian to military uses, and continuing/expanding fissile material production in unsafeguarded civilian and military facilities.

Meanwhile, the political fate of the nuclear deal remains unclear. How the UPA handles the issue will determine its longevity. (full text).

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