Fears over Indo-US nuclear deal
Muhammad Jamil


India-US nuclear deal signed by George W. Bush and approved by the Congress in 2009 had given rise to asymmetry in South Asia. Pakistan had every reason to be upset, because by refusing to ink similar deal with Pakistan - an old strategic ally that was intertwined with the US and the West in various pacts since 1950, felt betrayed. President Barack Obama has committed to give state guarantee to India on behalf of American Nuclear Suppliers with regard to liability in case of nuclear-related accident. Anyhow, the way the US has treated a friend that stood by its allies for about half-a-century, is deplorable. Responding to Pakistan’s concerns over US-India nuclear deal, the US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said: “It has strong relationship with each of them. These relationships are strong; they are vital to our strategic interests, and they stand at their own”.

This statement is rhetoric, as Pakistan has given all the sacrifices in the war on terror but India has been rewarded in the form of N-deal. In fact, foundation for strategic relationship with India was laid by the then president Bill Clinton during his visit to India in March 2000, and blossomed during George W. Bush era. Pakistan had expressed concerns over Indo-US nuclear cooperation deal, when it had been approved by the Congress and became a law after President Bush signed it. Some facts about N-deal; on March 2, 2006 in New Delhi, George W. Bush and Manmohan Singh had signed a Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, following an initiation during the July 2005 summit in Washington between the two leaders over civilian nuclear cooperation.
The US had been pressing India to move on the deal before the end of President George W. Bush’s tenure, warning the pact may not survive in its current form under the next administration. The implementation of agreement had earlier hit the snag after the US Congressional vote in December 2006 requiring of India to pledge not to conduct any more nuclear test and not to use spent nuclear fuel from the plants the country would receive from the US. Anyhow, by concluding a nuclear deal with India the Bush administration had allowed business and political interests to trump up the national security interests of the United States. Besides, creating asymmetry in South Asia, the US-India nuclear trade legislation had granted India the benefits of being a member of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty without requiring it to meet all of the responsibilities expected of responsible states.
It has to be mentioned that India remained outside the international nuclear mainstream since it misused Canadian and US peaceful nuclear assistance to conduct its 1974 nuclear bomb test, refused to sign the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, and conducted additional nuclear tests in 1998. India had been cut off from most US civilian nuclear assistance since 1978 because of these violations. It was felt that India’s willingness to open some nuclear reactors for international inspection in return for the deal was not enough, as the agreement allowed it to keep its extensive and secret nuclear weapons and materials production complex off-limits. By adopting the nuclear bill, Congress had disregarded the provisions that would have required commitments from India to restrain its production of nuclear weapons and nuclear bomb material.
The legislation also overlooked the US obligation to uphold UN Security Council Resolution 1172 of June 1998, which called upon India and Pakistan to join the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, stop nuclear weapons deployments, and halt the production of nuclear bomb material. In a recent visit to India, US President Barack Obama stated that he supported India’s candidature for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. Disregarding the international covenants to advance its foreign policy objectives could result in a new arms race in Asia, which is already home of four nuclear powers. Former US president Bush had also expressed similar sentiments to appease India, but the fact remains that US cannot influence majority of the countries to vote for India to make it permanent member of the UNSC.
In the past, the US had advocated a “criteria-based approach under which potential members must be supremely well qualified, based on factors such as: economic size, population, military capacity, commitment to democracy and human rights, financial contributions to the UN, contributions to UN peacekeeping, and record on counterterrorism and nonproliferation”. The position taken by the US reinforced its desire to see India as permanent member of the UNSC because otherwise it should have incorporated conditions of showing respect for and implementing UNSC resolutions. Pakistan on Thursday said India does not qualify to become a full member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), given its record of violations of UN resolutions, particularly pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir.
Having that said, Germany, Japan, Brazil and India have been lobbying to get permanent membership of the Security Council with veto power. In various meetings, Pakistan had taken the position that non-permanent members’ representation be increased and be given to several other regions, which would help democratize the UN. The world is aware of the fact that Israel and India have ignominious record of showing utter disregard to the UN and its resolutions, apart from violation of human rights. Pakistan and other South Asian countries would not feel comfortable to see India - a hegemonic state and an aspirant of a regional and world power - be provided an opportunity to further its interests and designs.
There is a general perception that prospects of world peace could be further obscured if the veto power was given to the new permanent members of the Security Council, as the misuse of the veto power in the past by the permanent members was the reason for the Security Council’s inability to maintain international peace. The glaring example was the use of veto-power on various resolutions on Kashmir and Palestine by former Soviet Russia and the US. During the Cold War era, veto power was used for advancing interests of the super-power to detriment of a nation like Pakistan. The resolutions passed by the Security Council could not be implemented because super powers were not serious enough, either due to India’s size and population or their whims and fancies.