Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /nfs/c03/h07/mnt/56080/domains/filtercoffee.nationalinterest.in/html/wp-content/themes/canvas/functions/admin-hooks.php on line 160
Archive | June, 2010

Big leaky tent

The Economist’s article on India and the China-Pakistan nuclear deal.

The Economist ran an article (h/t Anantha Nageswaran) on June 24, 2010 on the China-Pakistan nuclear deal.  Or so the title of the article suggested.  However, a closer inspection will take you, the reader, through an elaborate labyrinth of half-truths, baffling arguments and sweeping generalizations. They all come to a close, not as one might expect, with a stern rebuke of China and Pakistan’s nuclear shenanigans, but with an admonition of India’s “growing nuclear arsenal.”

The writer should have stopped writing when it was clear that this was going to be the article’s first sentence:

China’s proposed sale of nuclear reactors to Pakistan will intensify nuclear rivalry with India.

The Economist fails to makes no attempt to substantiate the statement.  The argument is lazy and fallacious, and deserves to be challenged. But the fun doesn’t end there.  With regard to the India–U.S. nuclear deal, the  article contends:

America argued that India had a spotless non-proliferation record (it doesn’t) and that bringing it into the non-proliferation “mainstream” could only bolster global anti-proliferation efforts (it didn’t).

Raise your hand if you’d like an explanation on India’s supposedly blemished non-proliferation record.  Let us say, for argument’s sake, that the  writer is alluding to India’s use of fissile material from the CIRUS research reactor towards its first nuclear test in 1974.  This act by India could be called a lot of things, but nuclear proliferation, it most certainly wasn’t.  Moreover, India’s actions were neither an infraction of any international treaties nor of agreements it had with Canada or the U.S.

The article’s final paragraph, though, is an absolute zinger:

If Pakistan really is worried about India’s growing nuclear arsenal, diplomacy might work better than an arms race. George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment, a think tank, says Pakistan should lift its veto on a ban on the production of fissile materials for bombs. That would put India (which claims to support a ban) on the spot. Like enriched uranium, hypocrisy can be costlier than it seems.

Really? India’s growing nuclear arsenal? Just last year, U.S. CJCS Admiral Mike Mullen, commented on Pakistan’s rapidly growing nuclear arms in a testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Adm. Mullen’s observations were further corroborated by reports by The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and The Federation of American Scientists. That being the case, it should be pretty clear which country’s been adding to its nuclear stockpile like nukes are about to go out of fashion.

The bigger issue with the article though,  is its defense of the discriminatory nature of the existing non-proliferation order, and the convoluted arguments it employs to suggest that “renegade” nuclear powers like India have endangered non-proliferation regimes  (most of which came into force, by the way,  after the Big Five had acquired enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world several times over).

And if the hypocrisy of the article isn’t immediately apparent, a gander at the accompanying chart, which displays  the status of all nuclear weapons’ programs, excluding those of NPT nuclear powers (as if they were somehow above scrutiny),  should put all skepticism to rest.

Read full story · Comments { 2 }

Link Digest: June 26, 2010

Your weekly link digest:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/holding-the-conversation/638303/0
Read full story · Comments { 0 }

Atomic outsourcing

More on the China-Pakistan nuclear deal.

The inimitable K. Subrahmanyam is on target in this Indian Express piece on the motives and implications of the China-Pakistan nuclear deal which envisages China building two 650-MW reactors in Punjab province:

The real issue is the following. According to US nuclear scientists Thomas Reed and Danny Stillman who wrote The Nuclear Express, Deng Xiaoping took a decision to proliferate to selected Marxist and Islamic countries in the early ‘80s including Pakistan, North Korea and Iran…[I]t stands to reason that the Chinese proliferation to Pakistan and proliferation by both countries to Iran were deliberate state-led acts. All subsequent Pakistani proliferation attempts to Iran and Libya were state-sanctioned, and Khan was acting with full approval of successive governments and army chiefs in Pakistan.

China managed to insert a clause aimed at India into the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty draft, totally in violation of the Vienna Convention on Treaties, that the treaty would enter into force only when India which was totally opposed to the treaty, signed and ratified it. This was a challenge to India’s sovereignty.

The real issue they overlook is the Pakistani nuclear arsenal’s destabilizing effect on West Asia and the strategic gain for China from that phenomenon. On June 7 this year, The Washington Post disclosed that a former CIA officer who managed intelligence reports on Saudi Arabia has sent an uncleared manuscript to Congressional offices claiming that China supplied nuclear missiles to the kingdom early in the George W. Bush administration.

Shia Iran finds itself confronted on two sides by Sunni nuclear-armed powers. Iran has an experience of weapons of mass destruction (chemical weapon) by its Sunni leadership (Saddam Hussein). They face millennium-old Sunni hostility, al-Qaeda and its associates patronized by the Pakistan army regularly target Shias even while praying in mosques. Western analysts are right to worry about an arms race in West Asia. But the origins lie not in Iranian proliferation, but in Chinese-Pakistani proliferation. Iran is only trying to protect itself. The arms race is already on. [Indian Express]

A couple of points to further accentuate these arguments. First, the real issue here is how nuclear non-proliferation regimes have been singularly incapable of both holding China accountable to its non-proliferation commitments and dealing with nuclear proliferation perpetrated by a larger power like China.  While the West fumes and frets over a nuclear Iran or Myanmar’s so-called “nuclear brigade,” the 800-pound giant panda in the room is a China that has been entirely unapologetic about its intent to proliferate.

But then, this has been the defining characteristic of global non-proliferation regimes — they are discriminatory by design.  Recent news reports bring up China’s NSG commitments because of the impending NSG meet in New Zealand.  But there are several non-proliferation treaties that China has violated since 1990 in its decision to supply Islamabad and Pyongyang with nuclear know-how.

Second, China has, from the outset, sought to ensure India’s containment in the subcontinent.  It has pursued this by utilizing Pakistan as a tool — equipping Pakistan with nuclear weapons is just one aspect of this.  Given China’s intentions, India taking up its concerns vis-a-vis Pakistan to Beijing assumes that China can be turned around and that it can play the role of an honest broker in the subcontinent.  However, there is no precedent in the last 60 years to support this well intentioned, but misplaced leap of faith.  China can’t be an “honest-broker” when it is part of the problem.

Finally, as The Filter Coffee has previously pointed out, the impact of China’s actions will be felt most in West  Asia. Pakistan’s deterrence vis-a-vis India has, arguably, been in place since about 2000-2001.  Yet, Pakistan continues to produce nuclear weapons at a frantic pace.  The answer to this apparent disconnect lies in Pakistan’s nuclear commitments to Saudi Arabia.  Iran’s misplaced bravado and miscalculations have largely led to its nuclear isolation; however, the Sunni world is disquieted by Tehran aspirations and has sought refuge under a nuclear umbrella, provided by China, by way of Pakistan.

China’s reckless actions, which have already destabilized the subcontinent, now further complicate matters in an already volatile West Asia.   In addition, its defiance of non-proliferation efforts further accentuates systemic flaws in the global non-proliferation order.  These issues are of consequence to India and the rest of the world.  Myopic editorials on the matter hurt efforts in confronting the reckless behavior of a serial proliferator.

Read full story · Comments { 5 }

The War on Amrullah Saleh

How many journalists does it take to fix an Afghan light bulb?

Ever since Amrullah Saleh, the head of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) resigned after a Taliban attack on the Afghan Peace Jirga, the Pakistani establishment has gone to great lengths to malign the former intelligence official.  This insidious campaign aims to both target Mr. Saleh’s credibility and restore a Pakistan-favorable narrative in Kabul’s corridors of power.

The News was one of the first media outlets to attack Mr. Saleh:

Amrullah Saleh has taken up the full-time job to malign Pakistan on one end while providing all sorts of assistance to terrorists to step up activities on the soil of Pakistan on the other. He throughout had been in league with Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) to destabilise Pakistan but has been recently ousted by Afghan President Hamid Karzai due to his dubious role in the affairs of the state. Amrullah has also assumed the task of creating difficulties for the Afghan administration.  [The News]

Rahimullah Yusufzai, editor of The News‘s sister publication, Jang, kept up the heat on Mr. Saleh:

Amrullah Saleh regards Pakistan and the ISI as Afghanistan’s enemy number one, but has no proof to support his claims.  If Mr. Saleh believes that the ISI is responsible for the ills in his nation, why hasn’t he produced any proof to the effect? Amrullah Saleh is a Tajik, whose alliances lay with Ahmad Shah Massoud and Burhanuddin Rabbani — both of whom were rabidly anti-ISI….[S]aleh is anti-Pashto, has tried to give voice to the Northern Alliance, and holds Pakistan responsible for all the problems Afghanistan faces.  [جنگ]

But no propaganda campaign is complete without input from former ISS Director, Dr. Shireen Mazari, who as editor of The Nation, opined thus:

It is in this connection that the story in Nawai Waqt regarding RAW hiring the ex-Afghan Chief Amrullah Saleh, who resigned recently and spouted venom against Pakistan’s ISI In the now infamous Sunday Times story, must be taken seriously by the concerned organisations in Pakistan. After all, as the Afghan intelligence chief Saleh would have had access to Pakistan-US information sharing of a sensitive nature, which could prove valuable to India in its ongoing covert operations in Pakistan. [The Nation]

That Amrullah Saleh is a Tajik is irrelevant.  When a country’s intelligence and military establishment acts as chief patron to a group that unleashed unspeakable horror in a neighboring country, it is only understandable that the citizens of that country harbor resentment towards the patron.

There is deep concern in Rawalpindi that Mr. Saleh, while not being constrained by official capacity, might take the war to Pakistan and reveal things that ‘Pindi wouldn’t care to have disclosed in public domain.  The attacks, therefore, should be considered as preemptive strikes against anything that Mr. Saleh will likely reveal against the Pakistani establishment. After all, when an aggrieved intelligence official speaks, solid matter is bound to hit the air circulating equipment.

Read full story · Comments { 2 }