Pseudo-Secularism

Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Scientists wary of safeguards agreement text

July 10, 2008 15:29 IST

Criticising the draft text of the India-specific safeguard agreement, two top scientists have warned that it is "prejudicial" to the national interest and that it was in no way different from the safeguard agreement of non-weapon states.

Former Atomic Energy Commission chairman P K Iyengar and former Atomic Energy Regulatory Board chairman A Gopalakrishnan said the draft text was identical to the International Atomic Energy Aagency Circular 66 on safeguards to non-weapon states and that it provided no assurance on fuel supply.

A third scientist, former BARC director A N Prasad, however, said the text is generally all right but there is nothing India-specific.

Gopalakrishnan said although the preamble mentioned about the corrective measures promised by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] on the floor of the House, the text is not satisfactory. But Prasad said though corrective measures may not be very clear in the text, they are there without being explicit.

"There is nothing India-specific except that IAEA has not made objection to India's strategic programme," Iyengar said.

Iyengar regretted the "colonial mentality" and said that the draft text was made public by the Indian government only after it was "leaked" first by an American Web site."

"Even after 60 years of Independence, the colonial thinking persists," he said adding, the government was terming the text as "classified documents" until an American Web site put it out.

Even the IAEA had said in its press release on Wednesday night that the text would not be made public.

"It is interesting to note that the text, which was announced on Wednesday as 'classified' by the External Affairs ministry was made public on Thursday just based on a leakage of the text in some American Web site on Thursday morning," Iyengar said.

Prasad said the safeguards text was unduly kept under wraps by the government for reasons best known to it and created a turmoil of sorts.

"On a quick look at the text it is evident that it generally follows the standard safeguards practices already in vogue in the IAEA and there is hardly any India-specific article," he said.

IAEA has guarded against Indian withdrawal from safeguards at any time without mentioning the word "perpetuity".

Corrective measures are not explicitly dealt with and left somewhat vague, he said.

The broad contours of the Additional Protocol could have been discussed since the most intrusive aspects of the implementation of safeguards are usually packed in the protocol, Prasad said.

However, safeguards is one aspect but the deal as a whole has many larger issues on which India has to be concerned about including those which could be detrimental to the long term national interests, Prasad said.

In the whole agreement there is no recognition of India's weapons status, he said.

Other DAE scientists under the condition of anonymity said the separation plan, which has invited much controversy in the country, is inviable and formed the core of this safeguard agreement text.

"The concerns that inspections as applicable to non-nuclear weapon states allowing intrusive, at-site inspections 'on intent' has not gone away," one of the DAE scientist said.

"Such inspections have become the norm under the Additional Protocol following the problem in Iraq," he said.

It is still unclear how military installations and facilities, which do not attract safeguards like the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research will remain exempted and protected from intrusion in the course of such safeguards which are applicable in perpetuity as indicated in the text, the scientists said.

Deceitful deed

The Pioneer Edit Desk
PM has betrayed the nation's trust

The sense of outrage following the UPA Government's deceitful action of circulating the text of the safeguards agreement among the members of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency without seeking and securing a trust vote in Parliament is not limited to the Opposition alone. The entire nation is stunned that the regime of the day should have resorted to such trickery to push through the contentious India-US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement. If the Prime Minister has behaved in a sly manner that does not do justice to the high office he holds, the Government is equally guilty of misleading the people and thus betraying the nation's trust. What is particularly appalling is that although the text was initialled by Indian officials many days - if not weeks - ago, the Prime Minister and his aides purposefully kept the country in the dark. That the text should have been circulated among the IAEA's Governors shortly after the Prime Minister's meeting with US President George W Bush on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Japan adds a sinister twist to the entire episode: It would be perfectly in order to ask whether this Government's decisions and actions are prompted by instructions from elsewhere. Let us not forget that after the Left withdrew its support to the UPA Government, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had categorically declared that the Government would approach the IAEA only after seeking a trust vote. To remove any doubts about the Government's intentions, he insisted that this assurance was being given after consulting the Prime Minister who was then abroad. The Prime Minister made a similar commitment by promising to follow parliamentary norms and mocking at the Leader of the Opposition LK Advani for demanding that Parliament be immediately summoned for the Government to prove its majority. "I do not need Mr Advani's advice," the Prime Minister had snidely added. At the end of the day, he stands exposed as someone whose sense of ethics is extremely elastic. Such a man is not deserving of the nation's trust; he has surreptitiously forced on the people a nuclear deal that compromises India's strategic interests and belittles its sovereignty.

Through word and deed the Prime Minister has demonstrated that he is not only desperate to operationalise the nuclear deal before he demits office but also to do bring it in through the backdoor. The Opposition is right in asking: What is the Government trying to hide? And, is there a conspiracy afoot? The Prime Minister is welcome to offer explanations or retreat into high dudgeon, pretending hurt and offence at such suggestions which neither flatter him nor pander to his exaggerated sense of probity. But he will fail to convince the people. He has thrown propriety to the winds and shown that he is no 'accidental' politician but a cynical manipulator who can go to any extent to have his way - not on issues of crucial importance to the nation at this point of time but an agreement that increasingly looks like a private treaty with interests that remain grey and opaque. India cannot, must not, accept its long-term and strategic interests to be compromised by a feckless though craftily cunning Prime Minister who heads a Government which has lost its majority and who will be reduced to no more than a footnote of history after the next general election.

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