Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 03, 2008

Bush brings down the Indian government

Today some secret details were revealed about the nuclear deal between the U.S. and India. This could very possibly take down the Indian government that supported the deal. But instead of supporting that government now, the U.S. ambassador in India practically exposes the Indian prime minister as a liar.

First some background:

India has tested nuclear weapons and is not a member of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty. But it is a big market and the Bush administration wants to get into nuclear business with India. Currently India is blocked from acquiring civil nuclear technology from the industrialized countries that make up the Nuclear Supplier Group.

The Bush administration came up with a shady deal, the 123 Agreement.

India would split its nuclear industry in to a military and a civilian part and would put the civilian part under IAEA observation rules. It then would be allowed to buy equipment and Uranium for its civil nuclear program part. It would even be allowed to do further nuclear weapon tests.

Proliferation experts hate the deal. A clean difference between India's civilian and nuclear program is hard to make and in general the deal goes against the spirit of the NPT.

The Nuclear Supplier Group, some 45 countries, as well as the U.S. Congress must agree to the deal. Both have barked. Some smaller countries within the NSG group currently block the deal despite U.S. pressure. They demand that India must promise not to test any nuclear weapons and, if it breaks that promise, all deals must stop immediately. Congress, though not officially, set similar conditions.

The opposition parties in India have also been very concerned about the agreement. They see it limiting their countries national sovereignty. They feel the need to be able to test more nukes, especially in the case that Pakistan does further testing, and fear that the agreement would make such impossible. They are also afraid to become too dependent on 'western' sources for technology and natural uranium. In general, they want to stay neutral and despise anything that would give Washington more influence and pressure points towards India.

But prime minister Sing wants the deal including better relations with DC. In 2006 Singh shuffled minister positions within his Congress party government to make the deal possible. In August he told the Indian parliament,

"The agreement does not in any way affect India's right to undertake future nuclear tests, if it is necessary."

In July 2008, after a coalition partner left the government, Singh barely won a confidence vote over the deal.

Now the U.S. betrays him.

Glenn Kessler reports in the Washington Post today:

The United States will not sell sensitive nuclear technologies to India and would immediately terminate nuclear trade if New Delhi conducted a nuclear test, the Bush administration told Congress in correspondence that has remained secret for nine months.

The correspondence, which also appears to contradict statements by Indian officials, was made public yesterday by Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, just days before the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group meets again in Vienna to consider exempting India from restrictions on nuclear trade as part of a landmark U.S.-India civil nuclear deal.
The answers [in the correspondence] were considered so sensitive, particularly because debate over the agreement in India could have toppled the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, that the State Department requested they remain secret even though they were not classified.

The Times of India asks: Did Bush mislead India on nuclear deal?.

The Indian Express headlines N-deal: Was India misled? Left, BJP say YES; US says NO

Reacting sharply to disclosures that the United States would stop fuel supplies to India if New Delhi carries out a nuclear test, the BJP [a major opposition party in India] alleged the UPA government stood ‘completely exposed’ on Indo-US atomic deal.
The CPM [a left leaning party] said its stand on the nuclear deal stood vindicated with the ‘disclosures’ by the US on the issue and asked the UPA government to suspend all further moves to operationalise the ‘anti-national’ agreement.

The ruling Congress party obfuscates:

"What the US administration and or the US President communicate with the US Congress or a member of the US Congress is entirely their problem," Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said here.
The Congress leader pointed out that in case India conducts a nuclear test, the 123 agreement has provision for launching consultations before taking any action.

Note that those headlines, 'India misled', put the blame on the U.S. administration.

One might think that the U.S. administration would now somewhat sensibly accept that blame and help prime minister Singh through the assured difficulties.

But here comes the U.S. ambassador and takes the Indian government down:

"This letter contains no new conditions and there is no data in this letter which has not already been shared in an open and transparent way with members of the Congress and with the Government of India," US Ambassador David C. Mulford said in a statement.


Singh fought hard and over years for the deal that Bush also badly wants. Now the U.S. ambassador declares that Singh knew about the letter, misled his parliament and publicly lied about the deal. Yes, one could spin that differently, but this is what the public in India will apprehend.

Singh lied and the U.S. ambassador even says so.

With friends like this ...

Posted by b on September 3, 2008 at 16:44 UTC | Permalink


With friends like these, who needs enemas?

Posted by: Troutwaxer | Sep 3 2008 17:03 utc | 1

This is how you push India to reconsider its relationship with China...

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Sep 3 2008 17:21 utc | 2

It's not only an isolated event in India, it's a continuation of the US policy of the last 8 years:

Which is as if someone somewhere in Washington DC would make a maximum effort to antagonize any friend the US still has. And bankrupt the country, and make the US look weak against any freedom fighter - pardon: "Terrorist" - who can wield a Kalashnikov.

To put it even more bluntly: If Osama bin Laden had put a puppet into the White House, the damage to the US could not have been greater.

Posted by: No So Ana | Sep 3 2008 17:27 utc | 3

So President Bush's cunning plan to get the Pakistan military to cease its support for the Taliban is to sell nuclear technology to its arch-enemy?

Yeah, that's really gonna work.

Posted by: Ron F | Sep 3 2008 17:32 utc | 4

How much did the US bribe Manmohan to betray his country?

Posted by: Pvt. Keepout | Sep 3 2008 20:28 utc | 5

The US probably wants to swing Indian politics back to the BJP. The Congress Party is too "centrist" (and indeed, back in the day, was nearly socialist).

The US wants a neo-con government.

This probably will not work out as planned, even if the BJP retakes power as they hope (my first guess).

Posted by: Gaianne | Sep 3 2008 20:48 utc | 6

So President Bush's cunning plan to get the Pakistan military to cease its support for the Taliban is to sell nuclear technology to its arch-enemy?

my first thought was the US is f'ng w/india as some kind of leverage w/pakistan. why do they have to be such huge bullies?

Posted by: annie | Sep 3 2008 22:46 utc | 7

Manmohan is a sick idiot, selling his country for money. He is puppy of Sonia(Italian Btch)

Posted by: Indian | Sep 4 2008 0:55 utc | 8

This and the previous entry show how the Bush Administration is doing it's best to unite the world. By a military incursion into Pakistan, and exposing the Indian PM as a prevaricator, they've given the traditional enemies a reason to both hate us.

Bush: unifying the world in contempt of the US.

Posted by: Peter VE | Sep 4 2008 14:44 utc | 9

Now that the deal seems to have been signed, I look forward to seeing the weasel words in the agreement.

In an attempt to convince NSG members opposed to clean waiver to it, India today re-affirmed its commitment to voluntary, unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing

which everyone knows means squat. Now, the text itself is the key which will decide who,when and how the rug will be pulled out from under India's leg. Working with a double dealing partner is tricky (Ask the Paks about the F-16 spares)

Speaking as an Indian, if India gets enough fuel to complete the Thorium based breeder cycle, then it doesn't matter what the agreement says.

On the broader point whether the brownies are allowed nuclear weapons and might intemperately use them (I think I saw it in the NYT, a racist article whether some ME country should be allowed to have weapons given their tribal nature and all that blah), there are enough rational folks in the 3 way dance of India, China and Pakistan to see what will happen.

The whole missile race in India is to go after the growth engine cities of China; India seems fairly certain about its nuclear weapons design and the only thing left is range/medium of delivery. Now that the deal is signed, the next Agni test will resume. and then the missile defense shield.

I don't know why the sudden hurry in these weapon systems purchases and testing.

Minimal deterrance is one thing but all out purchases(in the works) of

1 aircraft carrier (pending) & 1 being built
3 subs (HDW/Scorpene) & 1 nuclear sub (ATV)
126 aircraft
180 helos
2000 tanks
6 C-130 special forces need plane

I don't know whether this is start of the 20 year modernistion cycle or something that is cooking for the next couple of years.


Posted by: shanks | Sep 6 2008 19:07 utc | 10

Aurorize: Atomic Club Votes to End Restrictions on India

The worldwide body that regulates the sale of nuclear fuel and technology approved a landmark deal on Saturday to allow India to engage in nuclear trade for the first time in three decades, after a pressure campaign by the Bush administration and despite concerns about setting off an arms race in Asia.

Only one hurdle now remains for the deal: final approval by the United States Congress. But passage is likely to be difficult, considering both political opposition and dwindling time in the Congressional calendar before November’s elections.

Posted by: b | Sep 7 2008 4:26 utc | 11

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