US May Push Agri, Defence Agenda After N-deal: Scientist

By Bernama,

Bangalore : An eminent scientist has expressed fear that after the Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear deal, Washington may try to push its agricultural agenda and defence sales to New Delhi.

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Former president of Indian Nuclear Society and former Director of Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Dr. Placid Rodriguez said the deal comes under the whole gamut of strategic alliance covering defence, space, nuclear and agriculture.

“My greatest reservation (about the deal) is that the strategic alliance between India and the US is going into agriculture because in the other three sectors (defence, space and nuclear) we are strong and we can go independently and we will go,” Rodriguez told Press Trust of India (PTI) here.

“Our agricultural universities, state universities, I.C.A.R. (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) laboratories — they will be completely overwhelmed by giants like Monsanto whose resources are plenty and whose motivation is only monopoly,” he said.

After Bt. cotton, now genetically modified brinjal is going to be brought in, Rodriguez said, adding, “we don’t know what’s next”.

“Even European Commission has not accepted genetically modified food and we are not examining all the consequences”.

The former President and Honorary Secretary of Indian National Academy of Engineering said another “lubricant” (for the United States to sign the deal with India) behind the 123 agreement is the “large possibility of defence sales (in India}”.

“We are in the market for 125 fighters (a multi-billion dollar business opportunity). In fact, we will not buy any reactor from the U.S. for 20 years. We will be buying reactors from Russia and France. What the U.S. wants is a monopoly in agriculture sector”, Rodriguez said.

While Russia, France and to some extent Israel are India’s collaborators in defence equipment, the US wants greater pie of the Indian defence market, he said.

Rodriguez expressed the view that the deal is actually an international civil nuclear cooperation agreement — a deal between India and international community — and has been given “wrong connotation” that it’s an Indo-US deal, attracting opposition from the left parties. Ardent supporters of the deal, including Prime Minister, “played too much” about the deal, he said.

“After all, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is a 145-member body in which U.S. is also a member. N.S.G. is a group of 45 nations. So, it’s actually an agreement between two groups and the U.S. is the strongest and most powerful member of the groups,” he said.

While stating that the deal is “acceptable”, he said there are certainly question marks.

“What if the U.S. President (after the safeguards agreement with I.A.E.A. and N.S.G.) says that the decisions are governed by the Hyde Act which is ultimate,” he asked.

He said India has agreed to a clause in the 123 agreement that the agreement would be subject to the national laws of the two nations.

But it would have been better to say it would be subject to existing international laws, Rodriguez said.

“It has been suggested that we must also pass a national act which says we are not bound by Hyde Act because it’s our national law. That’s only way of getting over it,” Rodriguez said.

He also disagreed with the view that the agreement with the U.S. is the full civil nuclear cooperation deal, saying reprocessing, heavywater technology and enrichment have been kept out of its purview.

On the issue of reprocessing, there are conditions, he said.

“We have to build new plant exclusively from the imported fuel materials and thereafter we have to give result of reprocessing and they will come back to us with decision after one year; it does not say that a favourable decision will be taken,” he said.