India must maintain equi-distance between US and Russia: Expert

October 6th, 2008 - 4:37 pm ICT by ANI  

New Delhi, Oct.6 (ANI): India might do well if it engaged with Russia with a sense of equi-distance between the US and Russia, an expert on security affairs has said.
Dr. Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Security Studies (ISS), said India and the US need to also leverage the mutual suspicion between Russia and China, and adds that there are several commonalities between Russia, US and India terrorism, WMD proliferation and a stable Asian security order.
In an article for the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), she says that the United States has to shed its biases about Russia and exploit the Russian wariness of China to its fullest in order to build a cooperative security framework in Asia. Commenting on US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’’s recent statement to House International Relations Committee head Howard Berman that it is the highest priority for the US to get an assurance on ban on the export of enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technology to countries like India that are not party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) at the forthcoming Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) meeting in November 2008, she says that raises fresh doubts on the Indo-US nuclear deal.
Basic facts reveal that the Indian government should be concerned.
First — the Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement is a broad framework agreement between India and the US, and not an agreement dealing with the specifics. However, if India and the US have to do nuclear commerce, few conditions had to met, including an NSG waiver and an India-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA. Once these conditions are met, India is allowed to do business with the US and other countries in the nuclear arena. Major countries seeking to do nuclear business with India are Russia and France.
Second, if France and Russia are willing to export enrichment and reprocessing technology to India, it will be difficult for the US to prevail upon them not to do so. For the US to bring about an NSG legislation banning export of ENR technology to countries that are not parties of NPT might be a wishful thinking and not a realistic option. This might be the case particularly in the current international scenario, when Russia and the US are on opposite sides almost on all major international developments.
Thirdly, India already has indigenous enrichment and reprocessing technology and therefore it should not be of any great concern if the NSG countries are not willing to part with these technologies. India may not possess the most advanced version of this technology, but the fact that it has this technology indigenously available should be sufficient. However, if India is insistent on an advanced version of this technology, India could even agree to an arrangement for reprocessing or enrichment in a third country, as the international community has suggested in the case of Iran. The concern appears to be that if non-nuclear states get hold of this technology, they could divert these technologies to produce fissile material. It should also be noted that this should not be major concern to the international community because such technology if obtained from other countries it would automatically go under the IAEA safeguards..
Lastly, the Indo-US civilian cooperation agreement is about more than just nuclear energy for India. The agreement has several strategic connotations. The agreement is a consequence of the US recognition of India as a major power in the coming century and Indias role in the emerging Asian strategic framework. The current century being an Asian century and the major players being US, China, Russia and Japan, it is important for the US to have an improved and comprehensive relationship with India. It should also be noted that both the US and India have concerns about Chinas rise and more specifically its military modernisation that could seriously impact the way China conducts business with the rest of the world. Besides, if the US did intend to take the US-India relationship to a higher level nuclear technology controls would have been a hindrance. Trade in strategic goods and technology is possible only through change in the international and the US domestic regulations on this issue. The Indo-US nuclear deal has been a consequence of this line of thinking. However, some believe that the Indo-US nuclear deal is a way of bringing India into the global non-proliferation regime.
Whatever be the US reasoning, the deal is in Indias interest. If India has to sit at the high-table, it is the US that can help India get there.
China, she says, will continually try to bring India down, as was witnessed at the recent NSG meeting.
“On the other hand, while China may not be interested in seeing another giant in Asia, it does not want India to forge closer ties with the United States or other Asian powers that could be detrimental to Beijings own regional and global role. Although Beijing does not categorise India as a challenge or threat, it does view India as a future strategic competitor that would join any anti-China grouping,” she adds.
“Lastly, there have been several formulations on the evolving Asian strategic framework both in the west and Asia. It is widely expected that the US, China, Japan and Russia will be major powers in this emerging framework. All the powers except China are for an inclusive approach, whereas China appears to adopt an exclusive approach, which seeks to keep other powers out of Asia. This, along with the factor of history and unsettled boundary issues, could lead to serious frictions in the future,” she concludes. (ANI)

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