In a clear rebuff to Left parties’ claims of safeguarding the national interest, strategic analysts and diplomats say that delaying the implementation of the 123 Agreement will only benefit China and Pakistan.
Arundhati Ghosh, India’s former envoy to the Conference on Disarmament, told HT that “there’s nobody but the Chinese and the Pakistanis who are gloating” at the predicament in which the government finds itself.
“To stop negotiations at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will only help China,” said Ghosh, who led India’s struggle against nuclear discrimination by boldly refusing to accept the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996.
Uday Bhaskar, former head of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, agrees: “The main beneficiaries of the deal getting delayed, from a strategic point of view, are China and Pakistan — in that order. So, whose interests are we protecting?”
He added: “If the deal is delayed or scuttled, it would allow the Chinese to acquire unipolarity in Asia. Countries like Russia, France and even Japan would like India on board because its presence would provide a sense of equipoise to the equation in the Asian strategic grid.”
"Symbolic implications of scuttling the deal are that India would remain in the global technology denial regime, not in the global policy formulating regime," he said.
Ghosh said the Left "are willfully damaging the country's foreign policy. They are trying to do much more than paralyse the deal. They are trying to kill it. If this (123 Agreement) is not in India's national interest, in whose interest is it? China can test, Iran can have a nuclear programme, but when it comes to India, why must this be put off?"
Along with Shyam Saran, the Prime Minister's Special Envoy on the civil nuclear cooperation deal, and K Subrahmanyam, strategic affairs expert, Ghosh is part of a panel reviewing the government's nuclear strategy.
"If their objections are actually related to the deal, the panel headed by Saran to go into all its aspects is enough. But that does not appear to be the case," Ghosh said.
"What we are doing is absolutely unprecedented," said Ronen Sen, India's Ambassador to the United States. "There has been no parallel of a single country exemption to any of the international regimes," he recalled, "not in the 21st century, the 20th, or in any century." Sen has been closely involved in negotiations for the civil nuclear deal. Speaking of the Left parties' objections, he said, "What bothers me is that even 60 years after Independence, they lack so much of confidence and self-respect."