People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 05, 2006
we go press (March 2, 2006), massive
protest demonstrations are
greeting the US President, George Bush, on his first State visit to
India. All across the country,
large number of people, displaying
a high degree of spontaneity have come on to the streets decrying
US imperialism and condemning its
military aggressiveness. The
palpable anger was reflected against its continued military occupation of Iraq and the brazen manner in which it
is targeting Iran and other countries listed in its self-declared “axis of
evil”. These protest actions
(reports are published elsewhere in this issue) highlighted the current role
of US imperialism in seeking to impose its hegemony over the world using
all available means and methods.
This growing anti-US imperialist consciousness
amongst the Indian people is
the surest guarantee to safeguard and strengthen
India’s economic and political sovereignty in the future.
these protests will continue when
Bush visits Hyderabad tomorrow, at New Delhi, in a joint press conference, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
and President George Bush issued
the Indo-US joint statement. The
statement covers a wide range of
issues deepening cooperation between the two countries.
They mainly include seven areas : energy; agriculture; science and
technology; trade and investment; high
technology; health; and environment. The
fine print of these agreements will have to be studied
in order to make a proper analysis and evaluation.
many apprehensions arise concerning
the agreements on agriculture and bio-technology.
These concerns rest on the fact that
unlike in the past, say at the time of the Green Revolution in India,
scientific applications in agriculture came from research and development
that was predominantly in the public domain.
Today’s bio-technology advances
come almost entirely from
the private domain. Hence,
private research institutions tied
to US multinational corporations
like Monsanto could well end up ensuring their dominance over India’s
joint conduct of research with
such US entities may well lead,
under the US patent regime, to a situation where these entities will hold the
Intellectual Property Rights. This
will deny India its rights to
indigenous genetic resources. Such
dangers will have to be met and
India’s sovereignty in all these spheres
must not be compromised.
centre-point of this visit,
however, has been
what is commonly referred to as the
nuclear deal. Readers will
recall that India and the USA
had entered into an agreement on
July 18, 2005 when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited USA on Civil
Nuclear Cooperation. Much
discussion has taken place in our country, justifiably,
on the contents of such a deal. The
Prime Minister, as a result, felt
obliged to make a Suo moto statement
in both the Houses of the Parliament, last week, assuring that the Parliament
will not be kept in the dark and any
agreement that will be signed will
uncompromisingly uphold India’s sovereignty in matters of nuclear energy and
research. The details of the deal
and the fine print of the agreement have not been made public as we go to press.
the course of the debate that has been taking place in the country, the CPI(M)
had made its position on the issue clear. Let
us recollect in short. Any civil
nuclear cooperation which will
enhance India’s nuclear energy capabilities cannot come at the cost of India
surrendering its sovereignty on this matter.
Thus, the separation of nuclear facilities between
civilian and military is a
decision that should and will
in India’s domain and will
not be done at the behest of the USA. India,
today, has fifteen
nuclear power plants in operation
and seven more scheduled for
completion by 2009. The separation
of these between civilian and military is
a precondition for any agreement in the sense
that those under the
civilian facilities will be subject to international safeguards and inspections
to ensure that they are not being used for nuclear weaponisation. Those reactors which
are designated as military facilities are
not subject to such safeguards or inspections.
The USA has been pressurising India to place all, if not the great
majority of these, in the civilian
list. However, as
stated above, CPI(M) insists that this is the decision that India must take
independently and not under US pressure.
main bone of contention has been the “fast breeder reactor” at Kalpakkam. These reactors use spent
fuel from existing
heavy water reactors to
The heavy water reactors use
uranium as its fuel which India has to mainly import
given the fact that we do not have sufficient uranium resources.
The conversion of the spent fuel into plutonium and its subsequent
conversion towards using thorium as
a nuclear fuel has a great import for
India. India is one of
the countries of the world which has the largest known reserves of thorium. If
we are able to develop a thorium-based nuclear fuel, then our dependence on
other countries for the import of uranium significantly reduces. India could well become
self-sufficient in its needs for
nuclear fuel thus, freeing India
from the bondage of pressures and
blandishments from imperialism on this score.
The CPI(M) maintains that
these fast breeder reactors cannot be brought under the civilian list and thus
subjected to safeguards and inspections which may delay, disrupt
and finally thwart India’s quest for self-sufficiency in nuclear fuel.
CPI(M) maintains that unless the US
Congress amends its laws and the nuclear suppliers group of countries
adjusts its guidelines to permit India
facilities under this deal, India should
not unilaterally proceed on
this matter. Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh assured both the houses of the Parliament
that any changes that India will make in classifying its nuclear
installations will be based on a reciprocity from the US side.
CPI(M) has maintained that India should not approach
the IAEA for an India specific Safeguard Agreement and adopt an
Additional Protocol unless the US Congress amends its laws.
all these concerns had been addressed in India’s favour in the nuclear deal, then the natural
question that arises is why has the USA singled
out India for such preferential treatment?
What are the hidden costs?
immediate explanation is that a consequence of this deal
would mean a rapid expansion of India’s nuclear energy which requires
the buying of new reactors, mainly from the USA.
These could be deals worth thousands of millions of dollars.
May be, the USA sees a lucrative bargain!
from this, however, there is another serious apprehension.
If and when such a deal is operationalised, then India could
be subjected to constant pressures on the score that the continuation of this
arrangement would be
subject to India toeing the US line on
other matters. This could well be
the political cost that India cannot afford to bear or should not afford to
country has already seen the open blandishments of the US Ambassador to India
that if India does not vote
in favour of the USA and against Iran in the IAEA, then the nuclear deal
shall not take place. The US Congress is notorious for changing its decisions
in order to put pressure on independent countries to toe its line, like
the by now infamous Pressler Amendment. Such
dangers are real. If India
were to succumb to such US imperialist pressures, then that is the end of
India’s independent foreign policy. More importantly,
this could signal the beginning of the end of India’s leading role
in the group of developing countries. More specifically,
India in South Asia, would be under constant pressure to act as the US
surrogate. In the larger context of US
global strategy that defines the
containment of China as one of its
principal elements, India
succumbing to US pressures may well
open other areas of tensions and conflicts that the country can ill-afford.
The carrot of the nuclear deal should
not entice India to be prepared to
be beaten by the US imperialist
stick to fall in line.
India, under this UPA government, must beware of
this eminent danger. Any compromise of our independent foreign policy, a
commitment made in the UPA’s Common Minimum Programme, can neither be
accepted nor tolerated.
Minister Manmohan Singh has assured that he will clarify the matters in
Parliament, which is now in session. If
any of the above concerns are breached in
the Indo-US nuclear deal, then, needless to add,
the CPI(M) will stoutly oppose them.