A post long over due – one on 123!
As the Congress celebrates the ending of the decade’s old nuclear isolation, its surprising that BJP is not demanding its rightful credit for the same!! I think by blindly opposing the deal and not leveraging on the good work done by the previous NDA government which also helped the deal through, BJP is committing a mistake. It is not surprising that Brajesh Mishra, NSA to the NDA government has come out openly in support of the deal claiming it to be the best that India could get from the US. I see the following three acts of the Vajpayee Government of which Mishra was a key member, also helped India to get the 123 deal and ultimately the NSG waiver:
1. Pokhran 2 – By defying the West and conducting Pokhran 2, the Vajpayee Government ensured that India become finally a nuclear weapon state. The tests enabled India to test its capability to develop a minimum credible nuclear deterrent. Without those tests which validated our research and ensured our capability, we would not have started discussions on the civil front as it would have amounted to forfeiture of nuclear weapon capability forever. Pokhran 2 ensured we have the minimum deterrent capability and showed to the world in no uncertain terms that we are a nuclear weapon state. With the minimum deterrent capability being guranteed by Pokhran 2, it became possible for India to explore cooperative opportunities in civil nuclear capabilities.
2. Announcement of Unilateral Moratorium on Testing: India decided to announce a unilateral moratorium on nuclear weapon testing immediately after Pokhran 2 – an indication that Pokhran 2 results were enough for us to develop the minimum deterrent that we need. What it also meant was to signal to the world at large that we are not in an arms race here and we are a responsible power. This notion of India being a responsible power played a major part in the NSG nations giving a waiver to India. This notion was further strengthened by another important decision of the Vajpayee Government.
3. Kargil : During the Kargil war, as events reached a flashpoint between two nuclear weapon states (though Pakistan’s capability is suspect) and the world watched anxiously, the Indian Government decided that it would not cross the LoC even though the incursion first came from the other side. Though we might have paid some price militarily because of this decision to restrain operations within the Indian side of LoC and not cross it, the decision again sent a message to the world at large on the responsible behavior of the Indian State. The Indian diplomats would have certainly used these incidents to convince the NSG nations on India’s record of non-proliferation and responsible handling of situations.
BJP and its allies should leverage on their role to get the NSG waiver and not let Congress take all the credit!!