The American administration sent a letter to the Congress clarifying what the 123 Agreement with India entails for the US. The letter was leaked recently. There’s nothing in the letter which should come as a surprise because its contents are consistent with what the Americans have been saying all along. What the letter strongly suggests is that either that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is lying or it is clearly delusional.
Here’s the view of a former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, PK Iyengar, expressed in an article in The Pioneer. He says that India’s freedom to test will be curtailed. This is, in his opinion, undesirable as testing is essential for India to maintain a credible nuclear deterrence.
Arun Shourie makes the case that the Americans are bound by their Atomic Energy Act of 1954 and the Hyde Act, and that the 123 Agreement does not in any way invalidate them. (I don’t have a link to Shourie’s article, and so I will post his article below the fold until such time that I have a link.)
My view is that India should not sign the agreement. I find the arguments by Iyengar and Shourie persuasive. Just for argument’s sake, let’s assume that it is a bad agreement and India pays dearly for it down the line. What is the penalty that those who pushed India into such a bad deal face? None at all. Mr Singh and boss will never have the pay for the follies, just as their predecessors whose gross stupidity has caused untold misery on hundreds of millions of Indians got away with no penalty (and indeed they are celebrated as great visionaries and leaders.)
I think that the prime minister is not a deluded fool and knows fully well what the 123 Agreement will do to India. That forces me to conclude that he is dishonest in his insistence that it is good for India. But then it is not the least surprising to find dishonest politicians in India. That’s Indian democracy for you — and therein lies the only consolation for me: the people choose unwisely and it is they who will suffer the consequences of their choices.
It’s all karma, neh?