The hypocrisy of non-proliferation ayatollahs

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by LETHALFORCE, Oct 16, 2015.

  1. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    The hypocrisy of non-proliferation ayatollahs
    India should be wary of putting all its eggs in the US basket




    One possible item on the agenda when Nawaz Sharif visits Washington next week should keep Indian strategists on their toes. The Washington Post last week spilled the beans on what it described as a “diplomatic blockbuster”. A civil nuclear deal between the US and Pakistan is being explored, ostensibly to put “new limits and controls on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and delivery systems”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi should make his displeasure known, even as he lobbies the other members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Pakistan’s proliferation record speaks for itself.

    There are two main reasons being put forward by those who seek Pakistan to become part of the global nuclear mainstream. First is the hackneyed argument that overstates the importance of Pakistan in maintaining stability in Afghanistan. With the city of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan falling to the Taliban, the argument has received fresh impetus. The fall of Kunduz is an attempt to consolidate the hold of Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour over the Taliban, a project sponsored by the Pakistan’s rogue intelligence agency ISI. The fight for leadership within the Taliban—after the news of Mullah Omar’s death came out—threw a spanner in the talks between the Afghan government and Pakistan-chosen representatives of the Taliban.

    As farcical as it may sound, the US has once again come around to believe that Pakistan is a part of the solution when it actually is part of the problem. Islamabad, rather Rawalpindi, has to be appeased in order to bring Mansour’s faction back to the negotiations table. Henry Kissinger had once said that Obama’s exit strategy from Afghanistan was more about exit and less about strategy. He was right.

    Second, Pakistan, with its burgeoning nuclear assets, is supposed to be too dangerous to be kept outside the global nuclear order. A report released in August by two US-based think tanks—Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Stimson Center—argued the same. The risibly titled report, A Normal Nuclear Pakistan, highlighted that with the current rate of fissile material production, Pakistan can, in the next five to 10 years, become the nation with the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world, overtaking China, the UK and France. While India made its claim for a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group on the basis of its spotless non-proliferation record, Pakistan’s candidature, ironically, stems from its abysmal record.

    A US-Pakistan civil nuclear deal is still not a given by any stretch of imagination. Pakistan will have to accept, as The Washington Post called it, “brackets” on its weapons and delivery systems. Pakistan insisting on parity with India might make the negotiations extremely demanding. However, if the US allows Pakistan to keep its strategic programme alive in order to respond to “legitimate” threats from India, then Rawalpindi will be willing to play the ball. The broken bipartisan consensus in US domestic politics and Pakistan’s previous proliferation records will make circumventing the resistance in US Congress enormously difficult. By all estimates, Obama, even if he is enthusiastic about it, is unlikely to see through the deal in his tenure. A new president may simply choose not to pick up the threads.

    Yet, that the US is even contemplating such a deal with Pakistan should be an eye-opener for India. The deal is being pushed by the non-proliferation lobby in the US state department and some US think tanks. Adding to the ironies, the non-proliferation ayatollahs who had opposed the civil nuclear accord with India are the ones pushing the deal with Pakistan.

    Pakistan has always been a blind spot for the US. It has widely been claimed that the US’s support to India is instrumental in nature—to build India as a strong maritime power that can, if needed, face up to China in the Indian Ocean and provide support to the US and its allies in the South China Sea and the western Pacific. On the contrary, the US envisages a more balanced configuration of power in continental South Asia. In the current milieu of geopolitical flux, India should be wary of putting all its eggs in the US basket. India has much to gain from a growing partnership with the US, but relations with other powers, including Russia, are also important.

    How should India respond to US and Pakistan negotiating a civil nuclear deal? Tell us at [email protected]
     
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  3. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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