Jeffrey LewisAustralia, China and Uranium

A lot of hullaballoo about Australia’s agreement to sell uranium to China.

The Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office has everything you wanted to know about the deal, including the Transfer of Nuclear Material Agreement, Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy Agreement, and a helpful FAQ (Sample question: “Won’t supply of Australian uranium free-up China’s own uranium for military use? No.”).

The last point is an important one. This deal does not matter from a weapons perspective—if the Chinese were to restart fissile material production, they would use national deposits and facilities not subject to IAEA safeguards. The Chinese have plenty of uranium to churn out bombs.

The Chinse do not, however, have enough uranium for the masive expansion of civilian nuclear power plants central authorities are planning. The OECD estimates that, by 2020, China will require between 3,960-5,760 metric tons of uranium each year to fuel its reactors. (You may see higher numbers—some proponents of the deal are being very optimistic about how much uranium China will buy and, therefore, how much money Australia will make.)

Just comparing the size and cost of China’s Reasonably Assured Resources (RAR) of uranium with those of Australia reveals why China would rather import uranium for a large expansion of nuclear power .

Reasonably Assured Resources (1000 tons) in China and Australia by Cost (USD/kg U)

Country Less than $40 $80 $130
China 37 49 49
Australia 689 702 735

Source: Uranium 2003: Resources, Production and Demand (“Red Book”), A Joint Report by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency (OECD, Paris, 2004).

The agreement with Australia secures for China a large, economically viable source of uranium to sustain it’s civilian nuclear energy plans.

I am generally supportive of China’s efforts to generate more energy with nuclear power plants, if only because I’ve breathed the so-called air in Beijing. (Having moved to Boston, where it is frickin’ snowing in April, I am going wobbly on my opposition to global warming).

I also hope access to a secure, affordable source of uranium will reduce the interest within China for reprocessing spent fuel.

China currently fuels its reactors with low-enriched uranium (LEU) but has made noises about developing a a “closed” fuel cycle based on plutonium extracted from spent reactor fuel, in order to get the most out of China’s uranium resources. This agreement should remove one important incentive for China to invest in a so-called “closed” fuel cycle. (The economics of reprocessing are dreadful by the way.)

I don’t worry about China breeding plutonium to burn in its reactors from a weapons perspective—as, I noted, China has a stock of military Pu and can resume production anytime with national deposits and unsafeguarded facilities. But I am not crazy about legitimizing reprocessing and breeder reactors as a part of the civilian nuclear fuel cycle, especially in Asia (I am looking at you, Japan and India).

I think we can all see the problem with large stockpiles of plutonium sitting throughout Asia. (And no, ASIATOM won’t help).

I am also pleased that Australia retained the right to block China’s reprocessing of any spent fuel that used the exported uranium. If China reprocesses the spent fuel without Australia’s express written permission, Australia has the right to stop uranium sales to China. That gives the international community some leverage on this question, though one would probably want to be careful about threatening to cut-off the flow of uranium. After all, the reliability of the supply, by upright fellows named Bruce, is what obviates reprocessing.


  1. RT (History)

    This agreement proves that the Aussies are hypocrites when it comes to nonproliferation.

    If you can sell Uranium to one state which has not stopped producing nuclear weapons nor forsworn an end to fismat generation, then how can you morally deny it to another?

    For those not following my drift – please tell me why it is okay for China to be able to preserve its bomb making ability and yet get to enjoy cheap international Uranium while India is denied the same?

    Paul, Paul…Bueller?

  2. Jeffrey Lewis

    Don’t blame China because you didn’t manufacture and explode a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to January 1, 1967.

  3. Amit Joshi

    As we are finding out now because of the US-India deal, the NPT does not require nations to forswear fuel supply to India. That is only a NSG rule, one that has existed only since 1992.

    In this case its more a matter of blaming Australia than China.

  4. RT (History)

    Well I do blame the NPT system for not enforcing rules when China violated its treaty commitments in 1995-96 – selling ring magnets to Pakistan.

    I have no problem with a UK or France getting this kind of deal.

    Those who sign up to a sweet deal but violate even the most generous terms they got deserve international shame and reprobation – not cheap Uranium.

  5. Jeffrey Lewis

    If you are irritated about the existence of the Pakistani nuclear weapons program, blame is India.

  6. RT (History)


    Nope. I have no problem if Pakistan builds its own nukes. But defenders of China, such as yourself, cannot overlook the fact that China committed the most egregious sin by transferring nukes to Pakistan.

    China broke its solemn NPT commitments in 1995. Why is that hard for you to understand?

  7. Jeffrey Lewis

    You continue to mis-state facts.

    The “transfer of nukes”—Chinese assistance to Pakistan—largely occurred before China’s accession to the NPT in 1992.

    The instance you discuss—the transfer of ring magnets in 1995—is more complicated than you suggest.

    Ring magnets are for centrifuges, which does not make them clearly a violation of the NPT.

    The United States government was correctly concerned that the ring magnets were not for peaceful purposes and secured an agreement from the Chinese—not a member of the NSG—to refrain from the future transfer of ring magnets and other nuclear-related items to unsafeguarded facilities.

    Since that episode a decade ago, Beijing has honord this pledge. Get over it.

    CNS has a very nice summary of the event and its aftermath.

  8. RT (History)


    FYI, please see:

    No less an expert than Len Weiss concluded that China had indeed violated its NPT commitments with its Pakistan help.

    In 1994 the China National Nuclear Corporation sold 5,000 ring magnets to the unsafeguarded A.Q. Khan Research Laboratory at Kahuta. This equipment is used in special suspension bearings at the tops of rotating cylinders in gas centrifuges allowing for the production of weapons-grade HEU. The magnets were delivered in three shipments between December 1994 and mid-1995. Although both the CIA director and the U.S. secretary of defense were reported to believe that the Chinese government approved the sale and had therefore violated Article I of the NPT as well as U.S. law, the Clinton administration in 1996 chose not to impose sanctions on China. The grounds for this decision were stated to be that there was no evidence that the Chinese government had “willfully aided or abetted” Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program via the ring magnet sale and that China had (1) promised to provide assistance only to safeguarded facilities, (2) reaffirmed its commitment to nonproliferation, and (3) agreed to consultations on export control and proliferation issues. Pakistan was also not penalized.

    Contemporaneous with these events, China sold to Pakistan in 1996 and helped install a special industrial furnace that can be used to melt plutonium or HEU into the shape of bomb cores and was reported to have provided assistance to Pakistan during 1994-1996 in the construction of an unsafeguarded production reactor at Khushab that could produce plutonium suitable for use in nuclear weapons.

    It is difficult to escape the conclusion that China was indeed in violation of Article I but got away with it with U.S. complicity. That was not, however, the first time nor the last time that U.S. policy involving Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program found itself at odds with its own expressions of support for nonproliferation.

  9. RT (History)


    On a side note, this site’s software is excellent. Kudos to the designer of the website. If I had a blog, I’d hire this person.

  10. Paul

    “For those not following my drift – please tell me why it is okay for China to be able to preserve its bomb making ability and yet get to enjoy cheap international Uranium while India is denied the same?”

    India is not a recognized NWS. China is. That means that, for a while, China gets to do some things that India doesn’t, as long as India has nuclear weapons.

    India can get all the cooperation on nuclear power it wants – as long as it accedes to the NPT.

    These arguments about past enforcement lapses essentially boil down to: “People are killed all the time. Therefore, we should legalize murder.”


  11. RT (History)


    Please define “for a while” – Is it 30 years?50 years? a millennium?

    The NPT came into force in 1970. Under its Article VI, China is obligated to give up its nuclear weapons. It’s been 36 years and still there is no movement towards disarmament. All we have is hot air and RevCon minutes that no one reads anyway. Therefore it is obscene to see Australia actually enable Chinese weapon program by supplying Uranium without procuring a Chinese commitment to either stop building more bombs or committing to a stoppage of fis-mat production.

    When powerful NNWS like Australia do not see merit in holding the NWS to their solemn commitments, it only means that the NPT is dead letter and its rules are not taken seriously by its own members.

    Australia has chosen to whore out principles for the sake of a few bucks. This means that they will likely sell to India, for the right price.

    Those that defend this immoral system are becoming irrelevant. Your argument is “Don’t question me when I cannot enforce these rules for person A. I tell you that rules apply to Persons B and C”

    THAT is hilarious and unpersuasive.

  12. Paul

    ”Please define ‘for a while’ – Is it 30 years?50 years? a millennium? “

    1. I assume this question is rhetorical. I agree that all NWS should do more to fulfill their Art. VI commitments. This is not a reason to reward India for breaking the rules.

    2. You are changing the subject. You initially equated the Australia-China deal with the US-India deal. They’re not the same for obvious reasons.

    Anyway, the former deal won’t wreck the nonproliferation system. The latter could.

    That the NPT may not be entirely fair is unilluminating. There are states that, at least for right now, get to have nuclear weapons. I understand why India’s unhappy that it is not one of them.

    But the claim that this “unfair” system can’t prevent proliferation is false – it can and has. The real risk now is that we may seriously damage a system that’s taken a lot of time and effort to build.

    Over the last 15-20 years or so, there’s been a fair amount of progress in improving the nonproliferation regime. (e.g., the 13 steps, improvements in China’s proliferation record, fewer countries with nuclear weapons, sharp reductions in the US and Russian nuclear arsenals, no nuclear testing, etc.)

    3. That said, the imbalance in the NPT is not unproblematic (see point #1). But I fail to see how carving out another exemption for India is going to solve anything.

    4. Question: what “rule” is Australia violating? Maybe I’m wrong, but there is no requirement, as far as I know, that NNWS refrain from selling uranium to NWS who aren’t in compliance with Art. VI.

    5. “Those that defend this immoral system are becoming irrelevant. Your argument is ‘Don’t question me when I cannot enforce these rules for person A. I tell you that rules apply to Persons B and C.’”

    Please. My argument is:

    1.The current system, despite its flaws, has worked reasonably well. If it means that
    2.I think that all NPT states should work to fix the systems’ flaws, not jettison it altogether.
    3.Your alternative is, I think, to wreck the nonproliferation system because India doesn’t think the rules should apply to New Delhi.

  13. RT (History)


    I don’t see how any reasonable person can say that the current system has “has worked reasonably well”

    If that is the case, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.

    Your solution to an imperfect system is to reinforce the imperfections. You gloat the fact that the system cannot make its parties answer to their obligations. How pathetic is that!

    Your arguments clearly show that you don’t have a problem with nuclear proliferation as long as the proliferation does not wreck the current imperfect system.

    In other words, what you are saying is that you don’t have a problem with the bus having two sections, you just don’t want to see Indians ride in the front with you.

    Any system that undermines the security of one sixth of humanity needs to be trashed. The NPT will go the way of the Jim Crow and Apartheid. Good riddance.

  14. Paul

    I understand your desire to turn this argument into something it’s not, but don’t imply that I’m a racist.

    I suggest you re-read what I actually wrote.

  15. RT (History)


    The aim of the NPT was to reduce nuclear weapons and eliminate them altogether. So how come China gets to be the only treaty party to make more bombs 36 years into the treaty and still be a member in good standing? What kind of treaty is this anyway? Don’t give me the “NWS should do this…” spiel – They all are NOT fulfilling their part of the bargain. Which means that the treat has long been dead.

    As to “racism” – If someone is okay with one country having bombs, making more, point it at its rivals, proliferate it to rogue states and still get to rake in the benefits of the “system” and that same person says another country cannnot do so – just because its just the way things are- then what does it make this person? I remember the “good” people in the movie “Mississippi Burning” who used similar justification for the South’s “system.” Son – y’know, that’s just the way things have always been.

    I just don’t know what to make of people who justify the current system and say “it has worked.”

  16. Alok Niranjan (History)

    Paul, flaw in your argument: India broke some rule … it did not.

    Good points in your argument: the NPT is flawed. Good job—the biggest flaw is that it excluded India.

    Keep up the good work.

  17. Max Postman (History)

    The argument that the NPT is racist is facile. Is it an unfair program? Hell yes. Is it a tool of great power imperialism? Arguably, at least in effect. But to say that it is racist is to trade common sense for cheap rhetoric.

    Supporters of the NPT, including Jeff and Paul, point to the program’s greatest success: the fact that, “Of 44 nuclear capable states (precisely: states listed in Annex II of the CTBT), only nine have nuclear weapons.” (

    The vast majority of the states whose weapons programs have been apparently curtailed through the NPT are white, white, white. (See above link)

    If NPT supporters were really a bunch of white-robed cross-burners, why would they consider the prevention of a Swedish weapons program to be an indicator of success? Moreover, if I was a Phd-armed racist thinking about nuclear non-proliferation, I wouldn’t think too highly of the NPT anyway. The fact is, its non-white nations that the NPT has been LEAST effective in constraining.

  18. Manne (History)

    Ummm…let’s see.

    Blame India for Pakistan’s military programme. Shall we blame China then for India’s miltary programme? You may recall that India did not kick-start the mil programme for quite some time.

    China is a NWS because NPT says so. So, IOW, a piece of paper is more important than ground realities. Prosecute an innocent person who killed in self-defence because the law says so. Wonderful! Three Cheers I say.

    I am extremely amused by the argument that China transferring nukes to Pakistan is okay because it happened before China joined NPT but it is not okay to help India because it didn’t join NPT – never mind that NPT was formed on very questionable basis. Will it be okay if India were to supply nukes to, say, Iran? Do I hear an aye?

    Ring magnets did not violate NPT and China got away because it was not a member of NSG. I see! That means India too would get away if it were to supply ring magents to Iran and at least Paul and Jeff Lewis would keep their peace.

    Very persuasive I see.

    India is a country that developed nukes on its own. Very very bitter pill. Gettoveritt.

  19. Paul

    I understand your desire to turn this argument into something it’s not, but don’t imply that I’m a racist.

    I suggest you re-read what I actually wrote.

  20. Alok Niranjan (History)

    Guys, Get over this “racist” thing … the reference was to nuclear segregation, not a racial one … the Nuclear TP has created an untenable position …

    Bush and Rice are smart enough to see that it is useless … the US will soon announce plans to upgrade its nuclear arsenal … in doing so, it will stay within the letter of the Nuclear TP, and that too, barely …

    all this talk of “white” nations getting disarmed is hogwash … they all live within a western nuclear unmbrella … the day there is even a tiny leak in the unmbrella watch them nuclearize in a hurry …

  21. Max Postman (History)

    Alok, your argument depends on the factually incorrect assertion that the “western nuclear unmbrella” is a favor that the US does for white nations. What about Taiwan? Japan? South Korea?

  22. Manne (History)

    I agree with Paul and Alok that this is not a story of racism.

    Superiority complex on part of the haves perhaps but not racism. Let’s not use wrong terminology.

    Having said that, the dichotomy that I have pointed out stands.

  23. Alok Niranjan (History)

    Max, your argument depends on the factually incorrect reading of what I wrote. I merely said that the white nations of europe are under a nuclear umbrella … whatever prompted you to read words such as “favor” in my comments?

  24. Christopher Karel

    It should be noted that arms control wonks aren’t interested in only a few people having nukes. The ideal is that NO ONE will have nuclear weapons. A worldwide nuclear exchange becomes quite a bit more difficult if no one has fusion devices sitting atop ICBMs. And in general, less nukes means lower chances of one getting lost or accidentally fired.

    Now realistically, any treaty that instantly made nukes illegal wouldn’t even be signed in the first place. There just isn’t much hope of completely putting that Genie back in its bottle. So the NPT HAS to include that caveat that if you’ve got nukes, then you’ve got nukes. But the less countries that join the club, the better. Not because it makes the NWS more powerful, but because it means less nukes overall. That’s really the sole purpose behind non-proliferation.

    Jeff’s acceptance of the Australia-China deal appears to be hinged on the fact that it won’t really increase (China’s) nuclear weapon stores. If it’s just used for civilian energy, then it’s not a problem. Nuclear power plants aren’t lobbed at neighboring countries. But giving fuel or technology to Iran or even India isn’t likely to produce the same result. Hence, nonproliferation wonks fiercely oppose it. Not because they have favorite countries, but because they just don’t like nukes, period.

    The imbalances in the NPT aren’t an indication of its unfairness. They’re the unfortunate result of pragmatism in treaties. And that probably makes you the first person on the planet to fault non-proliferation fans as being TOO pragmatic.

    -Christopher Karel

    p.s. I apologize if this unfairly puts words into anyone’s mouth. It aims only to clarify.

  25. Jeffrey Lewis

    I think that is a fairly accurate rendering of my views, yes.

  26. Manne (History)

    I appreciate the explanation but you will have to do better to explain the following wrt India

    “But giving fuel or technology to Iran or even India isn’t likely to produce the same result.”

    in light of the fact that such transfers will happen in full view of IAEA and only for the civilian side. Am I to understand then that people have lost faith in IAEA in context of a country like India which has voluntarily prevented spread of its weapons and technology though it was in demand and outside NPT (China-Pakistan anyone?). I find that trifle amusing.

    While I agree with the idea of simply avoiding nuclear weapons and having less countries in the club I am amused some more when letter is followed more than the spirit as amply demonstrated here and elsewhere by the arms control and non-prolif lobby. Instead of accepting that at least one country developed the capability on her own, we are made witness to silly attempts of proving how it “must have” obtained information from others and how it “runs a scam” a la Albright-Basu report. Incredibly smart.

    I note that the questions I had raised remain unanswered. Perhaps, that itself is an answer?


  27. RT (History)

    To Christopher Karel:

    If non-prol wonks are pragmatic enough to realize that those that have nukes aren’t going to agree to making n-weapons illegal immediately, then they must also realize that other nations that are threatened by those with nukes aren’t going to wave the white flag or bend over.

    Anyway, I’m not faulting the NPT for taking into account the material fact of 5 nations already possessing nukes. What I do fault the supporters of the treaty is for denying that the treaty was written such that disarmament is effectively an optional commitment for the NWS while not pursuing nukes was more of an enforceable obligation for the NNWS.

    It’s been 36 years and we still have NWS making new weapons. An powerful NNWS are totally cool with helping an NWS that is still making weapons. This means that the NPT is a joke and all parties know it. The only pragmatic way to rectify this would be for some NNWS to make the NWS feel the same terror the NWS have been imposing on the rest of the world. That’s just the way human history has shown us.

  28. Akash (History)

    Irrespective of what xyz feels or does not feel- you do realize that India isnt going to roll over and play dead because you NPT folks want it to? Irrespective of whether this deal goes through or not- India will do what it must. What does make me laugh out loud though is the support of China earlier on- and then subsequent silence over the ring magnets issue. What of the Missiles transferred -M111s despite the MCTR? You think China had nothing to do with Pak and NKorea getting together? Sure!
    You guys realize that as far as India is concerned, the Pak bomb is Chinese and they got a working design, hence it was ready for even Op Brasstacks? So much for China holding onto its pledge. Private firms in Europe violated the NPT, the Govts ignored it, but it wasnt state policy to let it happen- in contrast, China has played power politics with N’s.
    Pragmatism or not- your entire NPT edifice is built upon power politics – if you dont get India in now, the next bunch of Indian politicians, or their kids- are not going to be Cambridge educated and diplomatic and humane, with ideas of Gandhi and disarmament..they are going to be as cynical and nationalistic as the types in the US and elsewhere, and they will, if they have to, break the NPT, they never signed it anyway..what then? What are you guys going to do to do to one of the worlds powers two decades from now on? Face it- the more you protect Chinas antics and come up with excuses to bolster a patently flawed system without taking Indias unique security concerns into account- you are just headed for a train wreck. And a bunch of Indians, who would have otherwise been along with you in preventing it from happening, will instead cheer it along. Think of what the world would have been with India also giving a N design to Vietnam, helping it with Ballistic Missiles and N material production, doing the same with Taiwan contain people have been taking Indias self restraint for granted. Please dont. It would be a mistake. India is probably the most pro US country in the world right now (the Pew report), despite military aid to Pak, all that goodwill wont last forever, as NP advocates keep insisting on the 1967 date with vehemence..

  29. Max Postman (History)

    1) “You guys realize that as far as India is concerned, the Pak bomb is Chinese and they got a working design, hence it was ready for even Op Brasstacks?”

    I’ll take your word on the opinions of Indians, but I hope you’re not implying that the view you present above is factually accurate, because it most certainly is not. China played a part, but its a complex story. (

    2) “Think of what the world would have been with India also giving a N design to Vietnam, helping it with Ballistic Missiles and N material production, doing the same with Taiwan contain people have been taking Indias self restraint for granted.”

    I don’t think policymakers would be very responsive to the strategy of nuclear blackmail that you’re discussing. After all, a major part of the arms control project is to reduce the incentives for a nation to develop nuclear weapons. Possession of nukes provides plenty of incentive already, we don’t need to sweeten the deal by handing out diplomatic goodie-bags to those nuclear-armed states that do us the “favor” of refraining from the reckless and de facto homicidal distribution of nuclear technology.

  30. Alok Niranjan (History)

    ok, dude—I tried to bring sanity to oyur website … but you are just another control freak who believes in censorship … I corrected someone else’s misrepresentation and you censored it!

    Bravo! Keep up the silly work 🙂

  31. RT (History)


    You say:

    “I don’t think policymakers would be very responsive to the strategy of nuclear blackmail that you’re discussing. ”

    I’m not sure if I should laugh at your chutzpah or be dismayed at the brazen nature of this claim.

    Just in this thread of postings, you’ll find arms control wonks celebrating China’s supposed “improved proliferation behavior” Why do you think people value this so called improved behavior if they did not yield to Chinese proliferation blackmail?

    If I were in power in India, I’d sell a bomb to friends and deny everything and dare the US to sanction me. That’s how the Chinese did it and showed the world. Now all these arms control gurus are lining up to take free trips to Beijing to attend meaningless export control conferences even as PLA generals ship nukes to every rogue nation with cash or oil.

    A bomb in your pocket and a cavalier attitude makes arms control hawks listen to your concerns more seriously. Everyone wants to take credit for “reforming” bad boys while good guys like India are always taken for granted.

  32. Max Postman (History)

    RT, the fact that arms wonks are happy about China cleaning up its act doesn’t contradict my argument. If you wanted to use the example of China to refute my “laughable” claim, you’d need to demonstrate that the US did special favors for China in exchange for the apparent changes in Chinese behavior.

  33. RT (History)


    The US:

    1. Covered up China’s violation of Articles I and III of the NPT in 1995 when China was caught selling ring magnets to Pakistan. There is ZERO doubt that this was an explicit NPT violation by China but there were no consequences.

    2. Facilitated China’s entry into the NSG even as China tried to grandfather a last second deal with Pakistan AFTER the A.Q.Khan thing hit the fan.

    3. Buried the discovery of Chinese nuclear warhead designs in Libya and did not even ask for punishment of the officials who leaked the dangerous stuff

    4. Agreed to sell American reactors to China WITHOUT IAEA safeguards.

    If you look at Congressional testimony and other arguments made by State Dept officials in justifying these US moves, you’ll see that they all talk of “improvement” in Chinese behavior being the trigger for American concessions.

    Realistically, all China did was to talk about export controls while the proliferation went on behind the scenes. Besides, all this is like John Wayne Gacy asking for the Key to Chicago after agreeing not to kill his 34th victim.

    I can go on but I guess I made my point which is – Arms Control bureaucrats only respect rogue behavior from powerful nations. Voluntary restraint is always taken for granted.

  34. Akash (History)

    Mr Postman,

    > Atlantic etc

    OMG…and you read this, when? From the mid-80’s, India has been repeatedly pointing to the Khan network and the Chinese hand in it. Please go to for instance..instead of buying into what one piece in the Atlantic says…tomorrow the Atlantic will say that the Khan network was overblown and there will be a twenty page article on it..and it will be touted as proof. What you just demonstrated, no offence intended, is a perfect case of analysis fixated are some on the ME and this and that, that the rest of the world passes them by and they only realise it when the threat envelope widens to include the west. And even the MSM picks it up and runs “expose pieces”..otoh, we folks havent had that luxury- the entire Khan network thing elicited a “so what” reaction in India, precisely because it had already been so widely covered from quite some time.

    >>I don’t think policymakers would be very responsive to the strategy of nuclear blackmail that you’re discussing. After all, a major part of the arms control project is to reduce the incentives for a nation to develop nuclear weapons. Possession of nukes provides plenty of incentive already, we don’t need to sweeten the deal by handing out diplomatic goodie-bags to those nuclear-armed states that do us the “favor” of refraining from the reckless and de facto homicidal distribution of nuclear technology.

    ROTFL..sorry but that is quite naive after all the talk on pragmatism and the NPT that we have been discussing…so what makes the US go easy on Chinese proliferation? Or it cant even force the Pakistanis to hand over AQ Khan or cooperate properly over Afghanistan? Your words are laudable in spirit, but the reality begs otherwise- NKorea is being treated with kidgloves (over Iraq) because of their tomtomming of the nuke. Musharraf & co are an ally, because for all their warts and continued involvement of the ISI in Afghan terror (check Kevin sites at yahoo, or assorted UPI reports to the Wash Post..), the US dare not “push” him too hard, as he uses the bogey of fundamentalists getting access to the Nukes.

    The problem is that you are using specious logic at best. The facts are that China transferred M111s to Pak, considerable N tech directly linked to weaponisation, plus a design, continues to assist the Pak weapons program- conventional & otherwise, breaking commitments to the MTCR etc with impunity- and we are to be told that all this is kosher, because hey, China blew a bomb before India in the 60’s..everything else is immaterial. BTW, the above is not rhetoric..I can dig out links pointing to each of the above. So whether you hand out “goodie bags” or not is irrelevant. Twenty years from now, y’folks will have little to dissuade with as its economic rise and military strength firmly propels it into power status, and its in your interest to have India on the NP side, because if selective hypocrisy is continually demonstrated on the basis of an arbitrary cut off date- most Indians will support a “do unto China what China does unto us” policy- and if that means using the same reckless kinds of tactics of containment, the Chinese have- so be it. What will you do then? I have said this before- please dont take a country’s behaviour for granted, especially when it continues to face threats on a magnitude you folks dont appreciate. The US and Russia had deterrence separated by many many miles..they didnt attack each others installations. The more the excuses for China’s irrenditism, the more the dismay in the Indian establishment for having their entirely voluntary self restraint taken for granted.

  35. Akash (History)

    [Here’s the deal the people, I have a job. And a life. Sometimes, I don’t check my e-mail for 12 hours. The next person who complains when something isn’t posted promptly gets a lifetime ban from commenting. Jeffrey]

    Well my previous message to Mr Postman, seems to have been censored as well. Good show guys.

    Or should this article in MSNBC stone itself to death since it said the unmentionable (For references, please see Life of Brian)
    A Nuclear Reality Check

    America goes around the world arguing that a few more warheads would be dangerous and immoral—while it has 12,000 of its own.

    By Fareed Zakaria
    Updated: 2:29 p.m. ET April 9, 2006

    April 17, 2006 issue – Many of the Bush administration’s critics argue, with some merit, that it has often pursued a foreign policy based on ideology and fantasy, not the realities of the world. But now the critics are lost in their own reveries. They fantasize that the United States and India will sign a nuclear agreement in which the latter renounces its nuclear weapons. They criticize the Bush administration’s proposed deal with India because it does no such thing. (Instead, India commits to placing 14 of its 22 reactors under permanent inspections, and retains eight for its weapons program.) But this is a dream, not a deal. India has spent 32 years under American sanctions without budging—even when it was a much poorer country than it is today—and it would happily spend 32 more before it signed such a deal. The choice we face is the proposed deal with India or no deal at all.

    The nuclear nonproliferation regime has always tempered idealism with a healthy dose of realism. After all, the United States goes around the world telling countries that a few more nuclear warheads are dangerous and immoral—while it has 12,000 nukes of its own. The nonproliferation treaty arbitrarily determined that countries that had nuclear weapons in 1968 were legitimate nuclear-weapons states, and that all latecomers were outlaws. (It was the mother of all grandfather clauses.) India is the most important country, and only potential global power, that lies outside the nonproliferation system. Bringing it in is crucial to the system’s survival. That’s why Mohamed ElBaradei, the man charged with protecting and enforcing global nonproliferation, has been a staunch supporter of the agreement.

    This deal, shorn of all the jargon, comes down to something quite simple: should we treat India like China, or like North Korea? If the former, then we have to accept the reality that it is a nuclear power and help make its program as safe and secure as possible. If the latter, then we’ll never stop trying to reverse India’s weapons program.

    Actually, even if this deal goes through, India will have second-class status compared with China, Russia and the other major nuclear powers. In all those countries, not one reactor is under any inspection regime whatsoever, yet India would place at least two thirds of its program under the eye of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

    The inequity with China is particularly galling to New Delhi. China has a long history of abetting nuclear proliferation, most clearly through Pakistan. Yet the United States has an arrangement to share civilian nuclear technology with Beijing. India, meanwhile, is a democratic, transparent country with a perfect record of nonproliferation. Yet it has been denied such cooperation for the past 32 years.

    There are some who are willing, grudgingly, to give up their full-blown fantasy and settle for a minor one—a deal in which India would agree to cap its production of fissile material. Jimmy Carter expressed this view in a recent article. But look at a map. India is bordered by China and Pakistan, both nuclear-weapons states, neither of which has agreed to a mandatory cap. (China appears to have stopped producing plutonium, as have the other major powers, but this is a voluntary decision, made largely because it’s awash in fissile material.) For India to accept a mandatory cap is to adopt a one-sided nuclear freeze. Would the United States do that? India has declared a commitment to support such a cap when it is accepted by all nuclear states, which is what we should push for.

    There is a broader strategic issue for the United States. It has been American policy for decades to oppose the rise of a single hegemonic power in either Europe or Asia. If India were forced to halt its plutonium production, the result would be that China would become the dominant nuclear power in Asia. Why is this in American interests? Should we not prefer a circumstance where there is some balance between the major powers on that vast continent?

    The agreement is also a crucial step forward in tackling the problem of global energy. If India and China keep guzzling gas as they grow, any and all Western efforts at energy conservation are pointless. We have to find a way that these two rising giants can satisfy their energy needs, while also reducing their dependence on fossil fuels. Civilian nuclear power can help fill the gap. Indian technology is actually the best in the world in this area because it largely solves the problem of nuclear waste. So while India has much to learn from the United States, the relationship will not be entirely one-sided.

    A more workable nonproliferation regime, a more stable strategic balance in Asia—and it’s even good for the environment. This is a reality that’s better than most fantasies. ————————————
    Like I have noted previously, the hypocrisy in reciting the law to India, which has abided by the same without signing on it, is ludicrous. In the meanwhile, Indians should feel perfectly safe in having the NPT safeguard “their” interests. And China is benevolent. Really.
    Zakaria is too polite to say what I said out loud- that an India forced to react to a reckless Chinese containment strategy by seeking allies itself , is in nobody’s interest & that talk what you will about nuclear blackmail or not- the NoKos, Chinese and the Pakistanis have written the book on how to do it successfully. Clubbing India with them is self defeating and nonproductive. But this basic fact simply doesnt get through to you guys. And it worries me and so it should, because I dont want to see an India with its back to the wall on account of having been too stiff upper lip and having played all nice and then lashing out with extreme measures because it must & some folks in Delhi are forced to pay China back in its own coin.

  36. RT (History)


    Thanks a lot for taking the time to post contrarian views. Much appreciated.

  37. Akash (History)

    Jeff, likewise. Though you could state that more explicitly in the “delay bit”- or there could be some sort of alert/ mail, when the comment doesnt pass your axe/ scissor.

  38. j house (History)


    Surely you don’t believe Pakistan would have never developed the bomb if India hadn’t.
    It is supremely a source of deterrent value against a full scale attack or invasion, as well as a matter of national, political and technological prestige.
    After all, for the remainder of history they can claim they were first to develop an ‘Islamic bomb’. India is no more to ‘blame’ than the U.S. is for the USSR’s development of the bomb.
    The genie was out in July ‘45, and he ain’t goin’ back.

  39. Bruce (History)

    Why are Indians often come across as very envious of another Asian’s achievement? If Indians spend more time on self-reliance and not envy the West’s help to China, India might get more respect.