Revolution in South Asia

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AWTW: On the proposed U.S.-India nukes pact

Posted by n3wday on July 27, 2008

On the proposed U.S.-India nukes pact

21 July 2008. A World to Win News Service. The proposed U.S.-India nuclear treaty represents a significant and dangerous development for the people of the region and the world.

The debate in the Indian parliament, one of the most bitter in recent years, bringing the Congress Party-led government to face a vote of confidence set for 22 July, has been thoroughly reactionary on both sides. Sonia Gandhi’s Congress Party is salivating at the prospect of further tying India’s destiny to the U.S. The Hindu fundamentalist (or Hindu fascist, as it’s often called) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) argues that the treaty might hinder India’s ability to use its nuclear weapons as it sees fit. The formerly pro-Soviet so-called Communist Party of India (Marxist) cloaks its arguments in terms of opposing subservience to the U.S., and might be more open to similar deals with European powers, but it is no less enthusiastic than the BJP in supporting a nuclear-armed Indian expansionism. The U.S. has intervened by baldly proclaiming: this is the best deal you can get, and you’d better take it or you’ll be punished.

Under the proposed accord, which the Bush administration has pushed for relentlessly, Washington would give India access to American nuclear power plant technology and fuel. This is supposed to be strictly limited to civilian nuclear projects, but the agreement is being voted at a time when the U.S. is threatening that “all options are on the table” to keep Iran from pursuing its own uranium enrichment programme, correctly stating that there is no wall between civilian and military nuclear technology. Further, while Iran has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty and is therefore subject to international inspections, India has refused to do so. The new agreement would allow for inspection of India’s nuclear power plants but shield its military installations from prying eyes. Experts have pointed out that providing India with nuclear fuel for its power plants would allow it to concentrate its resources on enriching uranium for military use. Most importantly, India has nuclear weapons; Iran does not.

There is big-power bullying in this arrangement, since the U.S. is seeking to impose its terms on India. This is the political importance of the unequal arrangements whereby the U.S. would have the right to inspect and rule on India’s nuclear programmes (no one is allowed to inspect the U.S.!), and generally have the last say on the options enjoyed by its very junior partner. India would depend on U.S. fuel and be tied to contracts with American companies. Such business is highly lucrative and the object of high-pressure international competition between the big powers. It would increase India’s structural economic dependence. But the proposed treaty is part of a bigger picture, involving American efforts to draw in India as a major regional military ally, as India’s regional ambitions more fully converge with those of the U.S. empire.

India has long acted as a regional gendarme for the imperialists, for instance, in Sri Lanka and potentially against Nepal. Increasingly, the U.S. has been organising India as a military ally, not only against the smaller countries of South Asia which India has habitually bullied, but further. India’s long-standing rivalries with Pakistan and China are being given new content, with the U.S. wielding India as a threat to keep the regimes of those countries in line with current American interests. There is not necessarily any conflict of interest between Indian subservience to the U.S.. and Indian expansionism. For instance, India’s helping itself to major influence in Afghanistan is both directed at surrounding Pakistan, whose regime has lost its status as a trusted defender of American interests, and a big help to the U.S.-led occupation.

The U.S. has led 13 sets of war games involving India since 1995, when India, formerly allied with the Soviet Union, began to be enlisted in the American empire. The manoeuvres in the past two years – each bigger than the last – have been particularly important. 2007 saw the first muscle-flexing of the newly-formed Quadrilateral Initiative, a military alliance bringing together warships from the U.S. (not just any ships, but the carriers Kitty Hawk and Nimitz), India, Japan and Australia. (Singapore also took part.) Although India has also carried out joint exercises with China and Russia in the past, the spearhead of this alliance is specifically and unabashedly aimed at China. A year earlier, American, Indian and Japanese warships carried out joint manoeuvres in the South China Sea. U.S. Special Forces troops also conducted joint work for three weeks in India’s northeast, where the Indian army was supposed to give the American soldiers tips on waging counterinsurgency warfare.

This framework makes the proposed U.S.-India nukes pact especially ominous. Why does India have nukes in the first place – and why is the U.S. aggressively seeking an agreement whose real effect would be to ensure that India can have more nuclear weapons? The purpose of this treaty is aggression: American aggression in pursuit of its imperialist interests, and Indian aggression as a U.S. partner – no less nasty and lethal for being a junior partner, and a very big and strategic one.

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