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Friday, 1 July 2016

From Today's Papers - 01 Jul 2016

On NSG, India rubbed China wrong way
Pravin Sawhney
The NSG, for the US, is fundamentally about non-proliferation. Unfortunately, the UPA sold the 2008 agreement as necessary for electricity needs. The Modi government is now selling the NSG as the pathway to great-power status. Both have been less than truthful.
While there are many reasons why India’s strong pitch led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group was doomed to fail, two most important ones have not received attention.

In the bid to salvage the bruised image of the Prime Minister, efforts are on to convey all is not lost. An unnamed US senior official has been quoted as saying that India’s case for membership is strong and should happen with some more push by December. Similarly, the outgoing chairperson of the NSG, Argentinian diplomat Rafael Grossi, has said that some way would be found to get India inside the NSG conclave. The key question remains whether India would get benefits as NSG member befitting a nuclear-weapon state?

The first reason why this will not happen is that the US, and not China, had dashed all hopes of India doing trade in nuclear technologies with NSG members. In 2007, when President George Bush was pushing India’s case for exemption from the global restrictive regimes and in the US Congress as agreed in the 2005 Indo-US framework document, the US, under its global commitment, was also urging the NSG to review its export control rules to check proliferation. Thus, in July 2011, the NSG announced its new export norms: only those nations which had signed the NPT would be eligible for reprocessing and enrichment (ENR) technologies. This came as a bombshell for India. While allowed to trade for fuel with the NSG, India would be denied ENR technologies needed for utilisation of closed fuel cycle because it had not signed the NPT.

In simple terms, while India could buy nuclear fuel from the world, it could not use it fully as without ENR technologies it would be unable to use the nuclear waste for energy production. This was when Indian scientists protested that they had own limited reprocessing capabilities and were not entirely bereft of them.

The second reason is that Modi’s India has displeased Beijing no end by pitting itself as a leading power in Asia, rivalling China, which it is not. It has forgotten that China had rejected the US’ G-2 (Group of Two) proposal for global power sharing and had instead sought the new major power relationship, a move that moved the US pivot to Asia since it signalled the race for global supremacy. The G2 system was informally proposed in January 2009. It was soon endorsed by the Obama administration.

However, China was not impressed as it had other plans. During Obama’s China visit in November 2009, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told him that China preferred a multipolar world. What he did not say was that China aimed to displace the US as the global power in the 21st century. This task was left for Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who, heading its fifth-generation leadership, sought the new major power relationship with the US in December 2012.

Also little understood is that Pakistan is no longer China’s lackey. Since Chinese President Xi Jinping’s 2013 announcement of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as the flagship of his ambitious Belt and Road project (the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road), Pakistan has emerged as China’s critical partner on the global chessboard. China believes that success of the CPEC would convince the world to jump on the Belt and Road bandwagon to help Beijing create alternative security architecture in Asia, the gateway to a new global order.

Given this, China can hardly be blamed for India’s short-sightedness and little understanding of strategic imperatives. Beijing opposed Delhi’s inclusion as NSG member not because it wants India to remain boxed in South Asia, but because it has reason to pull Pakistan out of South Asia as well. If this truism had been grasped by the Modi dispensation, it would have realised that the NSG is not the high table it should seek (that remains the elusive membership of the UN Security Council).

Just like the 2008 Indo-US civil nuclear agreement, the NSG, from US’ perspective, was and remains fundamentally about non-proliferation. Unfortunately, the Manmohan Singh government sold the 2008 agreement as necessary for providing round-the-clock electricity to the people of India. The Modi government is now selling the NSG as the pathway to great power status. Both governments have been less than truthful. Regarding India’s quest for membership of the NSG — the club which works on consensus principle — China had in July 2015 made it clear that signing of the NPT would be essential for new member states. What China had left unsaid was that India could become NSG member only if it signed the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state.

To understand the implications of India joining the NSG, it would be instructive to revisit the 2008 Indo-US agreement. According to it, India was to place certain numbers of its nuclear reactors under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. In return, the US promised to end India’s nuclear apartheid by acknowledging it as a nuclear weapons power, agreed to India getting access to high and dual-use technologies, and offered to cooperate on civilian nuclear energy to meet India’s energy demands.

It seemed that India would get the moon: it would become a nuclear weapons power (with freedom to maintain its credible minimum deterrence); be free to decide on more indigenous nuclear reactors for strategic purposes; be part of the global restricted technology cartels, namely, the NSG, Missile Technology Control Regime, Australia Group, and Wassenaar Arrangement (all led by the US but working by consensus); maintain strategic autonomy, implying independent foreign policy; not be clubbed with Pakistan; be free to buy nuclear fuel (uranium); run the nuclear closed fuel cycle (including reprocessing and subsequently the indigenous three-stage thorium cycle), and purchase state-of-the-art ENR technologies for its energy needs. It appeared to be a win-win situation for India.

In reality, from the US perspective, the deal was about non-proliferation by coercing India to identify maximum numbers of its reactors for civilian use, getting India to de facto sign the CTBT even when the US Senate had rejected it, getting India’s foreign policy closely aligned with that of the US, doing commerce in civil nuclear reactors and defence (through a 10-year Defence Framework signed separately but highlighted in the July 18, 2005, framework document), and eventually having India as a junior strategic partner if not junior ally in the Asia-Pacific region.

Against this backdrop, hypothetically speaking, if India becomes a member of the NSG, what would it get? It would certainly not get the ENR technologies that it desires from NSG member states. In any case, this is a bilateral issue. For example, China, an NSG member, continues to unabashedly give ENR technologies to Pakistan without even a mild protest from other NSG members, including the US.

On China, Indian diplomats incorrectly compare 2008 with 2016. At that time, China agreed to the US’ call to support India for two reasons: a strictly one-time waiver had been sought for India from the NSG to do nuclear commerce. And, China had yet not disclosed its grand China Dream with the Belt and Road as its manifestation to challenge US’ global supremacy. But China is now willing to discuss India’s entry into the NSG, provided Pakistan’s is also considered.

The reasons for India and Pakistan seeking to join the NSG are different. Pakistan’s quest for the NSG membership is not about nuclear technologies trade but about maintaining strategic balance with India. India, on the other hand, wants to be in the proverbial NSG tent to be able to participate in its policy-making. Considering the NSG was created as the consequence of India’s 1974 nuclear test, it is unrealistic to expect the conclave to alter its NPT imperative to allow nuclear technologies trade with India.
Review of security needed for AFSPA revocation: Govt
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, June 30
_The J&K Government today said a critical review of the security situation is needed for revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the state.

“The AFSPA is in operation in various districts. The need and desirability of revocation of the AFSPA in various areas of the state requires critical review of the security situation and other relevant factors,” said Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who holds charge of the home portfolio. She said this in a written reply to clubbed questions of National Conference legislators Shehnaz Ganai, Showkat Hussain Ganai and Bashir Ahmad Veeri in the Legislative Council here.

The lawmakers had asked the government as to what steps were being taken to revoke the disturbed areas Act from the state in a phased manner.

Mehbooba said that the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, 1997, ceased to be in force with effect from October 7, 1998.

Later, giving details about the Public Safety Act, Mehbooba said that 240 persons had been booked under the Act in the state since 2014.

“Those booked under the PSA have been detained under the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978, and the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic and Drugs Act, 1998,” Mehbooba said.
Two LeT_militants killed in Pulwama
Majid Jahangir

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, June 30
A day ahead of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit, two militants of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, including one suspected to be a Pakistani fidayeen, were killed in a gunfight in Pulwama district.

The Lashkar was behind the recent Pampore attack which left eight CRPF men dead and 22 injured. The police said one of the slain militants — Abu Ayan — was a part of the LeT’s fidayeen group.

“The slain Pakistani militant, Abu Ayan, was a member of the group that carried out the Pampore attack. Though he was not involved in the attack, he had infiltrated along with two members of the group that were involved in the ambush on a CRPF bus in Pampore. We had intelligence input that he was also planning a fidayeen attack,” said Pulwama SP_Rayees Mohammad Bhat.

The other slain militant has been identified as Manzoor Ahmed of Gandibagh Kakapora, Pulwama.

As the gunfight was underway, locals tried to march towards the encounter site which was not allowed by the police. Clashes erupted in the villages, leaving protesters and policemen injured.

Meanwhile, the security forces today claimed to have arrested two Hizbul Mujahideen over-ground workers from Sopore. They have been identified as Showkat Ahmed Bhat and Tanveer Ahmed Dar. “Both were close associates of top Hizb commander Sameer Ahmad Wani, killed in Kupwara on Tuesday,” the police said.

SIM cards recovered from PoK driver

Poonch: Security forces recovered a mobile phone along with two SIM cards of Pakistan’s telecom companies from a driver from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) at Chakan da Bagh in Poonch on Thursday.  Sources said the mobile phone and SIM cards were recovered during frisking of Pakistani drivers at the Immigration Centre at the LoC. The driver has been identified as Mohammad Saleem from  Hajira tehsil in PoK. — TNS
Tejas Isn't Among World's Best Fighter Jets. But It's A Big, Big Bonus.
 It's been almost every Air Chief's favourite whipping boy - an Indian-built fighter jet delayed so inordinately that it came to be seen as a promise that would never be kept.

But three decades after the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft went into development, there is a grudging acceptance that the fighter which will be officially inducted into the Air Force today in Bengaluru is, in many ways, world-class.

While the delay in delivery cannot be justified, there have been fierce debates on why that happened. State-run Hindustan Aeronautics or HAL, which is the lead player in the Tejas project, says the air force kept shifting the goal post on what exactly it wanted from the jet. The manufacturer also says it was hit by sanctions imposed by the US after the Pokhran nuclear test in 1998, which placed crucial technology out of reach.

The Air Force, for its part, has insisted there are better options available in the world market, jets built by manufacturers who have been in the business of military aviation for decades. The Tejas, they have argued in the past, will be obsolete by the time it enters Air Force squadron service.

Except it isn't. Not in the least.

Equipped with a modern Israeli multi-mode radar, the Elta 2032, state-of-the-art Derby air-to-air missiles to attack enemy jets, and modern laser designator and targeting pods to hit ground targets, the Tejas is, in many ways, as capable as the French-built Mirage 2000, the aircraft used by HAL as its benchmark. Every pilot that has tested the jet has sworn by the Tejas's flight control system and the ease with which it manoeuvres. Not a single Tejas fighter has been lost to an accident during flight tests during 3,000 sorties.

More than 3000 sorties of the Tejas fighter have been flown to date
Confronted by these facts, critics of the jet say the Tejas is not indigenous at all. They point out that the engine is American, its radar and weapons Israeli, its ejection seat British -all that in addition to several other imported systems and subsystems. HAL counters that leading Western designs like the French Rafale and the Swedish Gripen also have imported systems because it's simply too expensive and too time-consuming to develop components that have been perfected and are available for purchase.

So has the Tejas programme added to India's engineering and scientific knowledge? It has. The fly-by-wire system gives computer-controlled inputs to charter the flight of the aircraft - and it's completely Indian. To deal with enemy jets, the Mission Computer which processes data provided by sensors like the radar is Indian. In fact, the hardware and the software of the Mission Computer has been designed around an open architecture framework which means that it can be upgraded in the future. The jet itself is constructed using Indian-made carbon fibre composites which are light-weight and ultra-strong alternatives to metal. A host of general systems dealing with everything from fuel management to steering of the nose-wheel are all made in India. A key sensor, the Tarang Radar Warning Radar, which lets the pilot know of enemy aircraft or surface-to-air missiles in the vicinity of the Tejas, is also Indian.

The Tejas fighter has state of the art Derby air-to-air missiles
Modern fighter aircraft, including the air force's top gun, the Sukhoi - 30, are notoriously unreliable and maintenance-heavy. Less than 60 per cent of Sukhoi fleet is available at any one time to conduct missions, a huge concern for the air force. HAL says the Tejas will be available more than 70 per cent of the time when called in for missions and are targeting a minimum of 80 per cent, far in excess of what the IAF is presently able to achieve with most of its other jets.

Today, when the Indian Air Force's 45 squadron, the "Flying Daggers", take ownership of their first fighters, the Tejas programme will have turned over to an all-new page. As a light fighter based on requirements that were last updated more than a decade ago , the Tejas will never be among the best fighters in the world. It will, however, provide the Indian Air Force far more than what they had initially wanted - a MiG-21 replacement.

The cockpit of the Tejas fighter

In the Tejas, the air force has a modern fighter which will only get better through modifications and additions to its capabilities. 

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