NEARLY eight years ago, the then US president, George W. Bush, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced their intention to draw up a civil nuclear cooperation agreement.

President Bush stated on the occasion that “as a responsible state with advanced nuclear technology, India should acquire the same benefits and advantages as other such states”. In initiating the deal, Bush ignored an overwhelming number of weighty factors that militated against it. Critics raised the following objections:

1) In open violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the bilateral deal would make it impossible to advocate nonproliferation for others.

2) Secondly, two other non-NPT states, Pakistan and Israel, would also seek similar exceptions which, if granted, would further weaken the treaty.

3) By granting Indian demands for transfers to enrich and reprocess spent fuel under safeguards, it would make it harder to stop national enrichment and reprocessing programs elsewhere.

4) By obtaining abundant fuel supplies from outside, India might find it easier to resume nuclear testing.

Michael Krepon, a US nuclear expert, commented: “These arguments fell on deaf ears. Sceptics were mostly confined to ‘nonproliferation ayatollahs’, to use the parlance of Indian pundits. The irony of this epithet was lost to those who could see no connection whatever between trying to tighten nonproliferation screws for Iran while loosening them for India.” He noted, however, that US industry and (neocon) geo-political thinkers backed the proposed deal.

The motivating impulse behind the deal was the expectation of US industry to benefit from it. After the deal was approved by Congress in 2006, Ron Sommers, the president of the US-India Business Council, affiliated with the US Chamber of Commerce, envisaged the creation of as many as 27,000 new jobs in the US economy every year.

Major American companies like Boeing, Bechtel, and AIG, as well as many other US multinationals lobbied with Congress members to vote for the deal.

When the vote resulted in favour of the deal, Sommers declared: “A massive scope for commercial opportunity between US and Indian companies will also be the result, valued at more than $150 billion over the next 30 years, spurring a revival of the nuclear power industries of both countries that will create as many as a quarter million high-tech jobs for generations to come.”

More than seven years later, Sommers’ words sound like a pipe dream. The deal, which first went through a tortuous process of approval and acceptance by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group, finally came up against the reservations of the Indian parliament, which approved it in 2008, only after enacting strict liability legislation that has effectively prevented US companies from entering the Indian nuclear market.

Thus no business has so far been generated in the US as a result of the deal, as American companies balk at the astronomical penalty that they would be subject to in case of an accident.

Ironically, the removal of nuclear sanctions against India, that resulted from the deal, has enabled France and Russia to benefit from the opportunities of the Indian nuclear market, as the liability of state-owned companies would be borne by the state and not affect them the same way as would be the case with private-sector US companies.

While the imagined lucrative commercial prospects of US big business did not materialise, which initially motivated the deal, the consequences for global non-proliferation were enormously negative.

In its haste to contract the civilian nuclear agreement with India, the Bush administration did not demand of India an obligation to accept any meaningful restrictions on its nuclear weapons options. Many countries began to disregard US non-proliferation requirements.

At the 2010 NPT Review Conference, Brazil, Egypt and South Africa did not support the US proposal for stricter inspections of nuclear trade. China concluded with Pakistan an agreement the same year to provide two new nuclear power plants at concessionary rates by disregarding NSG rules and procedures. India itself joined NAM members in opposing stronger non-proliferation norms.

Most important, Pakistan has refused to move forward in the fissile material negotiations in Geneva, on the ground that the India-US nuclear deal had adversely affected the strategic balance in South Asia, which prevented it from considering any agreement for fissile material cut-off. Because of the unwarranted exceptions given to India under the deal the IAEA and the NSG have both been weakened in their functioning.

As the second Obama administration begins its work, it is advisable for it to revisit the entire issue afresh. The new secretary of state must take into account the fact that the nuclear deal has failed to deliver the dividends to the US nuclear industry that it set out to do.

The thousands of jobs and billions of business contracts that it expected from the deal have not come through. In fact, other countries like France and Russia have derived the benefits that the US had sought to get.

Moreover, the nuclear deal has permanently weakened the global nuclear regime and diminished the prospect of the conclusion of a fissile material cut-off treaty. The India-US nuclear deal thus has turned out to be a monumental blunder.

Of course the deal cannot be reversed but it is possible for the US to make amends which can assuage the situation. It can at least redress the strategic balance in South Asia, which will remain permanently destabilised if India retains its unfair advantage over Pakistan in the nuclear field.

The US could offer an appropriate civilian nuclear cooperation agreement to Pakistan which allows it to have access to nuclear material and technology in peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The writer is a former ambassador.

Updated Feb 22, 2013 12:10am

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Comments (41) (Closed)

Feb 22, 2013 05:48pm
That will take 100 years minimum...
Feb 22, 2013 08:16pm
the author wnats a face saving candy for pak
S N Roy
Feb 22, 2013 01:32pm
India's unfair advantage? Against whom? People who clandestinely supply rogue states with nuclear technology? That one sentence sours up an otherwise well-researched and well-written article.
raja hindustani
Feb 23, 2013 09:11am
sir, how can you equate India with Pakistan..??
Mohan Menon
Feb 23, 2013 08:27am
You write-Indians are Pak haters.then what is this author that too an ex-ambassador doing??Is is professing love and care for India??Why are you always after for equality with India why cant you concentrate on your country and its progress instead of always complaining about India??Why cant you set your nation in order and gain world wide recognition??Seeing you behave like this now tell me how Indians cant stop hating you guys?????
Ahmed Sultan (India)
Feb 23, 2013 08:19am
Yes we are enemies for sure.
Ahmed Sultan (India)
Feb 23, 2013 08:21am
As a kid I used to ask my dad to bring me the same toy that my neighbour's son has.
Feb 23, 2013 06:50am
with all due respect, the author's wisdom doesn't go with the kind of position he once hold. either he was not able to put down what he really meant or the article is poorly audited. author is contradicting his own stance in the article and he is not even aware of it.... I am not against giving the same deal to pakistan, however there are many things one considers before he puts faith.. i don't think pakistan has a better record of non-proliferation, nor does it holds a good reputation around the world... it can't compare itself with india all the time, looks desperate and poor on its part and sound jealous too.... india has an impeccable record around nuclear proliferation and the world knows it... hence the favored status....
Feb 22, 2013 10:39am
Now watch the flooding of Pakistan-hating Indians to this article with negative hateful remarks! Enemies for sure!
Feb 22, 2013 05:39pm
Simple question Who exploded the first A Bomb......India or Pakistan? As my very learned writes Pakistan stole technology from else. We had to for our survival. Long live Pakistan.
Feb 22, 2013 07:57pm
The American government understands that the Pakistani government lacks trust. Their cold war game, US versus China is so ave-dent which Pakistan has been taking advantage over the years,boys the cat is out of the bag. The Americans and the West is so worried about the continued nuclear arsenal build up by Pakistanis aimed at India.
Feb 22, 2013 08:35pm
Impeccable Sir? First to test. First to provoke. First to threaten. Yes these are impeccable.
whats in a name but religion
Feb 22, 2013 04:52pm
why ask u guys are already a big nuclear proliferation
Manjit Sahota
Feb 22, 2013 08:34am
The former ambassador should know better. It is the international arena. Deals of this nature are not revised.
Feb 22, 2013 08:27am
"The US could offer an appropriate civilian nuclear cooperation agreement to Pakistan which allows it to have access to nuclear material and technology in peaceful uses of nuclear energy." YOU WISH!!
Ganesh (India)
Feb 22, 2013 08:37pm
Look at the quality of article coming from former ambassador !!!! devoid of simple basic logic and rationale that can be expected in even a illiterate layman. Throughout the article he argues that the deal is futile, counterproductive to US and even as blunder. In the end he says same deal should be given to Pakisthan!!! There are quite a few former ambassador's writing article on esteemed paper Dawn. I must admit that most of them lack basic logic, courtesy, rationale in their arguments on any subject they are writing article on. I can only imagine how effectively they are representing their country in their embassy as an ambassadors!!!......
Feb 22, 2013 07:54am
Is US ready to belive what Pakistan promises ??? Compared to Indian Promise ..... Can US make money in Pakistan ??? Will the author certainly say that Saudi does not possess Nuclear Technology ... same as Israel ??? There are about more than seven states who are known to have clandestine nuclear aresenels... What about them ??? The treaty was already broken by them ??
Feb 22, 2013 07:23am
Yes Yes. Either the deal should be scrapped or given to Pakistan also. Most desirable thing would be that deal with India should be cancelled and given to Pakistan as a reward for absolute impeccable (??) behaviour on non-proliferation front.
Feb 22, 2013 12:04pm
You must be optimistic that America will give the same as it gave India.Terror production regionally or partially worldwide like the British rail bombing some time back points rightly or otherwise to Pakistan.You are seen as a hot bed for terror breeding.You have to clean your reputation first.
Feb 22, 2013 09:02pm
Not having nuclear things on its soil is a blessing in disguise for Pakistan. The economic advantage of nuclear energy is dubious. Some developed and sane countries are trying to dismantle their nuclear energy infrastructure. If a developed country like Japan could not stop and handle one nuclear accident, how Pakistan would handle this. A nuclear accident will wipe out Pakistan economy and leave its soil contaminated for next 10,000 years.
Feb 22, 2013 07:14am
The author says it was a monumental blunder and it's asking the same blunder for Pakistan in the last two sentence of the article.
Feb 22, 2013 10:02am
With so many problems facing Pakistan, nuclear deal is hardly worth discussing as even the US has not benefited from it so far.
Feb 22, 2013 06:19am
Grapes are sour.
Md Imran
Feb 22, 2013 05:15pm
I agree with the honorable Ambassador whole heartedly. I have on many a occassions written letters to the hon PM, President, CJ and GHQ regarding raising this issue in international arena. Not only should Pakistan raise the issue of this blatant violation of NPT by India, but lobby in US to ban all services and exports from India until the core apprehensions of muslims and other minorities in India are not solved. Nothing else can achieve regional peace.
amit (India)
Feb 22, 2013 03:22pm
Pakistan should also get access to nuclear knowhow/fissile material so that AQ Khan's and his successors can start another super market with those? After the AQ 'Supermarket' Khan saga, does Pakistan really expect to be taken seriously on this front?
Feb 22, 2013 09:47am
One more 'sour grapes' article !! Can the author clarify why he wanted the US to extend the Nuclear deal to Pakistan when he feels that it failed for India ? How can Pakistan make use of this Nuclear deal ? Does it have billions of dollars to invest on Nuclear energy ?
Feb 22, 2013 04:17pm
No common sense at all
Feb 22, 2013 05:10pm
And you have to clean your human rights record first
Dilip Joshi
Feb 22, 2013 07:26pm
The author is correct in pointing out that US commercial interests have so far not reported major gains in terms nuclear power-stations built by US suppliers in India. This would have been a big concern for the US if that had been the only objective for the nuclear power deal between India and USA. The major gain of that agreement for India, the USA, and indeed, for the whole world is that despite not signing the NPT, India, in principle, would be obligated to follow the world governance standard for trade in nuclear material. And if that turns out to be factual, Pakistan and Israel need to be offered similar deals ? similar but not the same. Why not? ? Each country?s antecedents are different. The next logical step is to scrap the NPT altogether. This will enable Iran to join the world community to produce nuclear energy without breaking any law and following the same standard of governance as any other country in the world. Will this ever happen? ? Probably not. The world of realpolitik is illusive.
Feb 22, 2013 06:28pm
I wish the Indian Business Man followed the the laws of India.
V. C. Bhutani
Feb 22, 2013 12:58pm
The author of this paper has ignored the basic difference between India and Pakistan, which is briefly stated as follows. India has impeccable record in the matter of non-proliferation. On the contrary, Pakistan is downright guilty of attempting all kinds of artifice to do underhand things, giving technology to other countries which it had stolen from other countries in the first place. Pakistan cannot be considered at par with India. It is no part of India?s concerns if the US did not get returns and advantages that it hoped to reap from the India-US nuclear cooperation agreement. India has its laws which must be followed by those who hope to do business with India. Pakistan is guilty in the matter of proliferation and does not qualify for an agreement with the US or any other country for cooperation on the lines suggested in the paper. In any case, there is nothing to stop Pakistan-China cooperation. V. C. Bhutani, Delhi, India, 22 Feb 2013, 1827 IST
MF khan
Feb 23, 2013 01:19am
three words to describe the author. jealous,Jealous and Jealous.
Feb 23, 2013 01:44am
well u guys are eating grass in exchange for the bomb like zia wanted ..enjoy..choke on it
Dr. D. Prithipaul
Feb 22, 2013 06:08pm
As a former ambassador, Naqvi's lament is a piece of Gruy?re with more holes than cheese. Pakistan had been receiving nuclear technology much before India by both China and the USA. The persistent harping on equality between India and Pakistan is unrealistic, and a grade 3 elementary school pupil would be aware of the existing ground realities which strangely enough seems to be beyond the understanding of the Pakistani elite. It is still beyond comprehension for a Pakistani not to acknowledge that India has never invaded a single country in her history. India did not hold to one square millimetre of land in Bangladesh after 1971. Jinnah told Gandhi that his future Pakistan would retain the right to wage war against India and he, as well as his successors, proved to be consistent with that claim. It was because India was weak that the Muslim conquerors could so freely ravage the country. A.Q.Khan resolved to give Pakistan the bomb after seeing Muslims suffer during the partition chaos. His self-righteousness and ignorance gave him a distorted view of Muslim history for it was the Muslim who always brutalized the Hindu, not the other around. He would have liked the Hindu never to retaliate against the gratuitous violence of his co-Believers India has had a very rough precedent with the Bhopal Union Carbide disaster with the Americans paying not one cent in compensation. India's prudence in taking precautions to avert a similar asymmetrical situation with the nuclear arrangement with the USA is understandable. Moreover the western powers are committed to reduce, according the terms of the NPT, their own arsenals, which they have been loath to do. Finally Pakistanis have to recognize that India is not a threat to anyone. It is they who are a threat to India, as they have demonstrated in 4 wars of aggression, and several decades of unceasing terror aggressivity. Pakistan must recognize that it can never be militarily equal to India, for no fault of India. Or of Pakistan. The frog and the bull can never be equal. Any ambassador ought to be aware of the historical causes of the enmity between the two countries. Indians cannot be held responsible for the ideological hatred based on the Revelation. That is the problem of Pakistan as of all other Islamic countries. Their claim tht Islam means peace is a myth. It was never Peace.
Feb 22, 2013 06:22pm
Shah, Leave aside Indian,is there any nationality across the globe who likes Pakistan?
Feb 22, 2013 06:23pm
There are a lot of Pak loving Indians too. Most of them realize that there is a mountain of difference between Pakistanis (their civilian representatives) and the Pak establishment. Unequivocally hate the latter for making Pak what it is today!
Ram Narayanan
Feb 22, 2013 01:56pm
The intelligent ambassador forgets that Pakistan under the thug AQ Khan was the main proliferator. The business relationship between India and the US should not concern the good ambassador who should use his influence to put his own failing state in order.
Feb 22, 2013 06:30pm
the deals are always open for revision. Pay attention to the articles appearing in the print and e-media. Deep little deeper for AUGUSTAWASTELAND chopper deal with india since 1985, how it mas made how it was enforced and how it was abandoned.
Feb 22, 2013 06:48pm
The nuclear deal has not benefited India or USA, according to the article, then why does honorable ambassador wants the same deal for Pakistan. Another gentleman said "now watch the flooding of articles by Pakistan hating Indians" My dear sir, it is not hate, it is just stating the facts. This is another matter as to how YOU interpretr them
Feb 22, 2013 01:49pm
India's Stature is growing, and it will not be possible for any one to ignore it any more. Civil N deal is one aspect of it..........US will gain out of it sooner or there would not be any reopening of the Deal......
Siddhartha Shastri
Feb 23, 2013 05:55pm
Are the liability legislations enacted by India USA-specific? Surely they can't be. So why is it that Rusiian and France have no problem "cashing-in" on the market place opened up by former president George W Bush? Surely the author is missing something here, as many other op-ed writers who state that USA missed out somehow on the comercial bonanza.