Sunday, March 05, 2006

Bush and the Idea of India Part II

The 1974 nuclear test and its aftermath are now history. While in 1961, the US Secretary of State Dean Rusk recommended, unsuccessfully, helping India to become a nuclear weapon state ahead of China in 1970s, the US attitude towards India in the aftermath of the Henry Kissinger visit to Beijing was hostile, especially after the Pokhran test.

During his visit to Beijing in November 1974, Dr Kissinger even discussed jokingly with Deng Xiao Peng arming Pakistan with nuclear weapons to check Indian hegemonism. It was therefore no surprise that the Chinese concluded an agreement with Bhutto in June, 1976, to proliferate to Pakistan.

Bush realised that a nuclear China, on the way tobecoming the second largest market, upset the balance of power in Asia unless the Indian nuclear weapon capability was legitimised. He also realized that India, with a billion people, growing at 8 per cent, would make enormous demands on world oil and gas and exacerbate the problem of emission of green house gases

At that stage, China had not joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Against this background the US passed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act of 1978 and warned Pakistan against nuclear proliferation with the clandestine acquisition of equipment from Europe for Plutonium separation. In April 1979, President Jimmy Carter imposed sanctions on Pakistan for its persisting with proliferation.

However, by 1982, the US agreed to turn a blind eye on Pakistan-China proliferation as a quid pro quo for Pakistani help to provide infrastructural support for Afghan Mujahideen campaign against the Soviet forces. Pakistan acquired nuclear weapons in 1987 with active Chinese support and the US looking away.

Faced with a Pakistani bomb produced with Chinese proliferation help and US looking away, Rajiv Gandhi decided to assemble the nuclear weapon in 1989. In the early 90’s, the US applied a lot of pressure on India to cap, halt and eliminate Indian nuclear weapon production even as it continued to turn a blind eye on China-Pakistan proliferation not only in respect of nuclear weapons but also in missiles. The recent disclosures of former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers reveal that CIA was having close contacts with Dr A.Q. Khan.

Curtisy : L Subrahmanyam

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