March 06, 2014
Never give up hope until the body is buried. Relations between India and America have slipped into a coma, but there is a long way to the graveyard.
President Obama’s Asian priorities do not include India.
The news item flickered warily somewhere in the middle of NBC's morning bulletin on Friday the 28th of February, almost as if the editors were wary of including it. A dead man had come alive. A major channel such as NBC would not have used "dead" without checking, or "alive" without confirmation. Mourners were taking the corpse to its destination when it began to kick within the coffin. The anchors, who looked as astonished as the mourners must have, described it as a miracle, and then quickly moved on to the comfort zone of the weather: icy winds in minus-zero temperatures under blue, sunlit skies. No miracle has been hailed with such embarrassment.
But there is a moral to this story. Never give up hope until the body is buried. Relations between India and America have slipped into a coma, but there is a long way to the graveyard.
A small but determined lobby within American academy and media, which influenced attitudes if not policy towards India, is at long last beginning to accept that Narendra Modi's march towards Delhi cannot be stopped or sabotaged. One of its achievements was the continued denial of a visa to Modi. It never raised any questions about a visa to Mrs Sonia Gandhi, although she has been indicted by an American court for an alleged role in the 1984 riots.
The extensive opinion poll done by the American organisation, Pew, has been a crucial input. The results have just been published, but data had begun to filter into conversation over the last few weeks. This poll gave Modi an unprecedented 63% support against 19% for Congress. Washington trusts the integrity of Pew.
Then there was the growing evidence from the inclinations of small parties in the Indian electoral mix, who by themselves could not achieve much but whose vote shares make a winning difference when attached to principal magnets. In 2004 and 2009, they were largely with Congress and UPA. This year, the gravitational pull has been in the other direction. For two months in Bihar the talk has been of a revival of the Lalu Yadav-Ram Vilas Paswan-Congress triumvirate. When push came to shove, it was the BJP that had stitched together a decisive partnership of two parties. Big boys can be wrong, inflated as they are in ego and self-worth. Small parties cannot afford to err.
Washington has woken up and started to smell the saffron.
It is hardly a secret that President Barack Obama has lost what limited interest he might have once had in India. His Asian priorities are to the east and west of India. He continues to invest heavily in the China relationship because of its value to the American economy. India brings nothing to the economic table.
A small but determined lobby within American academy and media, which influenced attitudes if not policy towards India, is at long last beginning to accept that Modi’s march towards Delhi cannot be stopped or sabotaged.
Obama remains committed to withdrawal from Afghanistan, for which he needs the cooperation of Pakistan. India probably has greater potential role after America leaves, but that is a role which will be defined by the future.
Obama's most significant initiative is the extraordinary effort to normalise relations with Iran. He knows that this is one for the history books, apart from the immediate and dramatic geopolitical implications. India could have served as a supplementary bridgehead, but that needed trust, which had evaporated.
Instead, the powerful group of American bureaucrats and politicians, who shaped the nuclear deal with India, are advertising a feeling of betrayal. In their estimation, India has not lived up to the unspoken part of the arrangement. No one has hurt Indo-American relations more than Defence Minister A.K. Antony, who eliminated the American bid to sell fighter planes at an early stage. Those with a memory recall another left-leaning politician from Kerala, Krishna Menon. If Antony has a case, he and his envoys have not done a good job of explaining it.
The curious incident of Devyani Khobragade's underpaid maid was a minor event that became major because establishments in both Delhi and Washington chose it as a battleground for hostility that had accrued on other issues. Five years ago, such a problem would have been sorted out with minimal fuss.
Relations between India and America have not deteriorated into disrepair, but they have become dangerously untidy. They need to be aired and laundered and ironed back into shape with a transparency that only good friends can afford. The present unease between two nations who can become important partners in zones of serious tension, and who share core values and interests, is illogical and unnecessary. It is immature to sulk.
Nor will course correction require a miracle. Obama will still have two years of administration left when there is, as projected by Pew, a change of government in Delhi by May. Change is an opportunity. The best thing to do with the immediate past is to put it behind us. Both capitals need to craft a new initiative that revives a momentum that once promised so much, but has been allowed to lapse.
Posted by Naxal Watch at 8:18 PM
February 27, 2014
By Jaswant Singh
NEW DELHI – Winter is India’s diplomatic high season, with the cool, sunny weather forming an ideal backdrop for pageantry, photo ops at the Taj Mahal or Delhi’s Red Fort, and bilateral deal-making. But this winter has been particularly impressive, with leaders from Japan and South Korea visiting to advance the cause of security cooperation in Asia.
The first to arrive was South Korean President Park Geun-hye. Despite a strong economic foundation, the bilateral relationship has long lacked a meaningful security dimension. But China’s recent assertiveness – including its unilateral declaration last November of a new Air Defense Identification Zone, which overlaps about 3,000 square kilometers of South Korea’s own ADIZ, in the Sea of Japan – has encouraged Park to shore up her country’s security ties with India.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s unpredictable and often provocative policies represent an additional impetus for improved ties – as do China’s increasingly visible plans to weaken South Korea’s alliance with the United States. Not surprisingly, the discussions during Park’s four-day visit focused on grand strategy, and included detailed talks on maritime security and naval shipbuilding.
Nuclear energy also featured prominently on the agenda, owing to both countries’ dependence on energy imported through dangerous sea-lanes. In 2008, South Korea, as a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, supported the waiver granting India access to civilian nuclear technology and fuel from other countries – both of which it had been denied since becoming a nuclear-weapons power in 1974. Indeed, India’s nuclear tests are what initially spurred the NSG’s formation. South Korea’s support of India’s civilian nuclear ambitions earned it high praise in India and helped to advance bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation.
This budding strategic partnership is undoubtedly important. But when it comes to the regional balance of power, India’s deepening ties with Japan are even more consequential.
While India’s relationship with the United States has been faltering of late, following the arrest and mistreatment of an Indian consular official in New York, its ties with Japan are flourishing. The visit last December of Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko was the clearest sign yet of a de facto alliance between the two democracies.
The imperial couple last visited India more than a half-century ago, as Crown Prince and Princess, when India was part of the non-aligned movement and Japan was happy with a security guarantee from the US. But, with China’s rise having shifted Asia’s balance of power, Indian and Japanese leaders have been seeking new security assurances, and the visit by the Emperor and Empress was the clearest signal Japan could send concerning the value it places on this
The search for greater security was even more explicit in January, when Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera spent four days in India discussing the specifics of enhanced defense cooperation. During the meeting, Onodera and his Indian counterpartaffirmed their countries’ intention to “strengthen the Strategic and Global Partnership between Japan and India,” including “measures ranging from regular joint-combat exercises and military exchanges to cooperation in anti-piracy, maritime security, and counter-terrorism.” In fact, later this year, bilateral naval exercises will be held in Japanese waters for the first time – sending a powerful signal to China.
But Indo-Japanese relations must extend beyond the realm of security – something that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has pursued enhanced bilateral ties more vigorously than any other Japanese leader, seems to grasp. Convinced that a strong India is in Japan’s best interests, and vice versa, Abe hopes to create a new “arc of freedom and prosperity” connecting Asia’s two major democratic economies.
While Abe could have done more during his recent visit to India to advance this vision for example, by meeting with Indian opposition leader Narendra Modi, who may become the country’s next prime minister – it seems certain that such a
relationship will be achieved in the coming years. Japan has already surpassed the US as one of India’s largest sources of foreign direct investment, accounting for inflows totaling $2.2 billion last year. And the two countries recently tripled their US dollar currency-swap arrangement, bringing it to $50 billion.
Abe, India’s chief guest at this year’s Republic Day celebrations, also rightly views enhanced trade as a key element in deepening the bilateral relationship, thereby contributing to substantially increased security. But bilateral trade amounted to only$18.4 billion in 2011-2012 – far smaller thanIndia-China trade and a pittance compared to Japan-China trade.
Even with a significant deepening of ties, however, bilateral relationships alone will be inadequate to counterbalance China. Achieving an internal Asian balance of power will require India, Japan, and South Korea to build a tripartite security arrangement, which can be achieved only if Japanese and South Korean leaders overcome their historical animosities.
As Winston Churchill declared in his famous 1946 speech in Zurich, “We cannot afford to drag forward across the years that are to come the hatreds and revenges which have sprung from the injuries of the past.” Just as France and Germany
pursued reconciliation in order to build a better future in the years following Churchill’s declaration, Japan and South Korea must learn to tame the hatreds and injuries of the past in order to build, with India, a structure of peace and a more prosperous future for Asia.
Copyright Project Syndicate
Jaswant Singh, a former Indian finance minister, foreign minister, and defense minister, is the author of Jinnah: India – Partition – Independence and India At Risk: Mistakes, Misconceptions And Misadventures Of Security Policy.
Posted by Naxal Watch at 7:29 PM
By Joe Cirincione
The stakes could not be higher, or the issues tougher, as the world's six major powers and Iran launch talks on February 18 on a final resolution of the Iranian nuclear crisis.
The goal "is to reach a mutually agreed long-term comprehensive solution that would ensure Iran's nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful," says the temporary Joint Plan of Action, which calls for six months of negotiations. If talks fail, the prospects of military action and potentially another Middle East conflict soar.
Six issues are pivotal to an accord. The terms on each must be accepted by all parties - Iran on one side and Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States on the other - or there is no deal. The Joint Plan notes, "This comprehensive solution would constitute an integrated whole where nothing is agreed until everything is agreed."
1. Limiting Uranium Enrichment
Iran's ability to enrich uranium is at the heart of the international controversy. The process can fuel both peaceful nuclear energy and the world's deadliest weapon. Since 2002, Iran's has gradually built an independent capability to enrich uranium, which it claims is only for medical research and to fuel an energy program. But the outside world has long been suspicious of Tehran's intentions because its program exceeds its current needs. Iran's only nuclear reactor for energy, in the port city of Bushehr, is fueled by the Russian contractor that built it.
Centrifuges are the key to enriching uranium. In 2003, Iran had fewer than 200 centrifuges. In 2014, it has approximately 19,000. About 10,000 are now enriching uranium; the rest are installed but not operating. To fuel a nuclear power reactor, centrifuges are used to increase the ratio of the isotope U-235 in natural uranium from less than 1% to between 3% and 5%. But the same centrifuges can also spin uranium gas to 90% purity, the level required for a bomb.
Experts differ on how many centrifuges Iran should be allowed to operate. Zero is optimal, but Iran almost certainly will not agree to eliminate totally a program costing billions of dollars over more than a decade. Iranian officials fear the outside world wants Tehran to be dependent on foreign sources of enriched uranium, which could then be used as leverage on Iran - under threat of cutting off its medical research and future nuclear energy independence.
Most experts say somewhere between 4,000 and 9,000 operating centrifuges would allow many months of warning time if Iran started to enrich uranium to bomb-grade levels. The fewer centrifuges, the longer Iran would need to "break out" from fuel production to weapons production.
So the basic issues are: Can the world's major powers convince Iran to disable or even dismantle some of the operating centrifuges? If so, how low will Iran agree to go? And will Iran agree to cut back enrichment to only one site, which would mean closing the underground facility at Fordow?
A deal may generally have to include:
· reducing the number of Iran's centrifuges,
· limiting uranium enrichment to no more than 5%, and
· capping centrifuge capabilities at current levels.
In short, as George Shultz and Henry Kissinger say, a deal must "define a level of Iranian nuclear capacity limited to plausible civilian uses and to achieve safeguards to ensure that this level is not exceeded."
2. Preventing a Plutonium Path
Iran's heavy water reactor in Arak, which is unfinished, is another big issue. Construction of this small research reactor began in the 1990s; the stated goal was to produce medical isotopes and up to 40 megawatts of thermal power for civilian use. But the "reactor design appears much better suited for producing bomb-grade plutonium than for civilian uses", warn former secretary of defense William Perry and former Los Alamos Laboratory director Siegfried Hecker.
For years, Iranian officials allowed weapons inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, intermittent access to Arak. Inspectors have been granted more access since the Joint Plan of Action went into effect on January 20, but satellite imagery can no longer monitor site activity due to completion of the facility's outer structure.
The reactor will be capable of annually producing nine kilograms of plutonium, which is enough material to produce one or two nuclear weapons. However, the reactor is at least a year away from operating, and then it would need to run for 12 to 18 months to generate that much plutonium. Iran also does not have a facility to reprocess the spent fuel to extract the plutonium. In early February, Iranian officials announced they would be willing to modify the design plans of the reactor to allay Western concerns, although they provided no details.
The temporary Joint Plan allows more extensive and intrusive inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities. UN inspectors now have daily access to Iran's primary enrichment facilities at the Nantaz and Fordow plants, the Arak heavy water reactor, and the centrifuge assembly facilities. Inspectors are now also allowed into Iran's uranium mines.
Over the next six months, negotiations will have to define a reliable long-term inspection system to verify that Iran's nuclear program is used only for peaceful purposes. A final deal will have to further expand inspections to new sites. The most sensitive issue may be access to sites suspected of holding evidence of Iran's past efforts to build an atomic bomb. The IAEA suspects, for example, that Iran tested explosive components needed for a nuclear bomb at Parchin military base.
Iran may be forthcoming on inspections. Its officials have long held that transparency - rather than reduction of capabilities - is the key to assuring the world that its program is peaceful. They have indicated a willingness to implement stricter inspections required under the IAEA's Additional Protocol - and maybe even go beyond it. But they are also likely to want more inspections matched by substantial sanctions relief and fewer cutbacks on the numbers of centrifuges in operation. At least four of the six major powers - the United States, Britain, France and Germany - will almost certainly demand both increased inspections and fewer, less capable centrifuges.
4. Clarifying the Past
The issue is not just Iran's current program and future potential. Several troubling questions from the past must also be answered. The temporary deal created a joint commission to work with the IAEA on past issues, including suspected research on nuclear weapon technologies. Iran denies that it ever worked on nuclear weapons, but the circumstantial evidence about past Iranian experiments is quite strong.
Among the issues:
· research on polonium-210, which can be used as a neutron trigger for a nuclear bomb;
· research on a missile re-entry vehicle, which could be used to deliver a nuclear weapon; and
· suspected high-explosives testing, which could be used to compress a bomb core to critical mass.
Iran may be reluctant to come clean unless it is guaranteed amnesty for past transgressions - and can find a way to square them with its many vigorous denials. And any suspicions that Iran is lying will undermine even rigorous new inspections that verify Iran's technology is now being used solely for civilian purposes.
On February 8, in a potential breakthrough, the IAEA and Iran agreed on specific actions that Iran would take to provide information and explanations of its past activities. "Resolution of these issues will allow the agency to verify the completeness and correctness of Iran's nuclear activities," says Kelsey Davenport of the Arms Control Association, "and help ensure that Tehran is not engaged in undeclared activities." Resolving all past issues before a final agreement may prove difficult, however. Negotiations may instead produce a process for eventual resolution.
5. Sanctions Relief
Iran's primary goal is to get access to some US$100 billion in funds frozen in foreign banks and to end the many sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy. Since the toughest US sanctions were imposed in mid-2012, Iran's currency and oil exports have both plummeted by some 60%.
The temporary Joint Plan of Action says a final agreement will "comprehensively lift UN Security Council, multilateral and national nuclear-related sanctions ... on a schedule to be agreed upon". (It does not, however, address sanctions imposed on other issues, such as support for extremist groups or human rights abuses.) The United States and the Europeans may want to keep some sanctions in place until they are assured that Iran is meeting new obligations.
The specter of the US Congress will overshadow negotiations. Its approval will be required to remove the most onerous sanctions imposed over the past five years. "The US Congress will have to allow meaningful sanctions relief to Iran, just as Iran's hard-liners are going to have to be convinced not to stand on principle when it comes to their 'right' to enrich and their demand to have all sanctions lifted," says Brookings Institution scholar Ken Pollack. "The US Congress is going to have to agree to allow Iran's economy to revive and Tehran's hard-liners are going to have to be satisfied with the revival of their economy and some very limited enrichment activity."
6. The Long and Winding Road
The final but critical issue is timing: how long is a long-term deal? It will clearly require years to prove Iran is fully compliant. But estimates vary widely from five to 20 years. Another alternative is a series of shorter agreements that build incrementally on one another.
For all the big issues ahead, both sides have an interest in negotiating a deal. The world's six major powers want to curtail more of Iran's program, while Iran wants to revive its economy and normalize its international relations. If the negotiators succeed, they will make history. Their failure could open the path to a nuclear-armed Iran or a new war in the Middle East - or both.
Joseph Cirincione is president of Ploughshares Fund and author of Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World before It Is Too Late
Originally posted on iranprimer.usip.org
Posted by Naxal Watch at 7:26 PM
Since 2005, there has been a shift in the ISI strategy. It wants to push more and more heroin into India through Punjab to generate funds for its covert operations. With its corrosive effect on the youth, heroin is the new weapon to wound India.
Heroin from the opium fields of Afghanistan accounts for 83 per cent of the global production (left) and Drugs are regularly intercepted at the Indo-Pak border in Amritsar
IN 2012, of the total 1,110 kg heroin seized in South Asia, 1,029 kg was seized in India. Out of this haul, 278 kg was seized in Punjab alone. Over the last few years smuggling of heroin in the state has shown an alarmingly phenomenal increase. Last year, the recovery in Punjab touched 416 kg, up from less than 50 kg till 2005. Though the Indo-Pak border manned by the BSF is more than 2,300 km, out of which only 550 km falls in Punjab — the remaining being in J&K, Rajasthan and Gujarat — the recoveries in Punjab are far beyond their share of the border. Last year, only about 20 kg heroin was recovered in Rajasthan and about 40 kg in Gujarat and J&K as against 400 kg in Punjab.
The phenomenon needs a deeper analysis and countermeasures to check the resulting threat to Indian security and damage to society.
Punjab has lived through an era of terrorism aided and coordinated by Pakistan. Smugglers and couriers from across the border actively participated under the aegis of the ISI in supplying weapons to terrorists. It was with the objective of preventing unchecked movement of terrorists and weapons across the border, which was proving to be major impediment in controlling terrorism in Punjab, that border fencing was erected by India. It was a highly successful measure, but given the topography, the smuggling of weapons could not be prevented entirely. The weapons recovered in Punjab from 1990 to 1994 are a testimony to that. During this period, about 2,000 AK 47/56/74 rifles, 1,200 other rifles, 4,250 small arms, 1,150 hand grenades, 870 bombs, 5,400 kg explosive material and 3 lakh cartridges were recovered in Punjab. The supply of arms and explosives dwindled with the arrival of heroin on the scene.
While the years from 1994 saw a sharp decline in terrorist activities in Punjab, the bid to infiltrate weapons from Pakistan continued. Over a period of time, the consignments began to be mixed with packets of heroin and bundles of fake currency notes to make smuggling lucrative. The period from 1995 to 2005 can be called a decade of transition, whereby the focus of smuggling gradually shifted from weapons to heroin. Since the year 2005, there has been an apparent strategic shift by the ISI to push the drug into India through Punjab. Heroin is easily available from Afghanistan, which accounts for nearly 83 per cent of the global heroin production. This way, the ISI can generate unaccounted money to fund its disruptive covert operations in various parts of India. It also weakens the population, and thereby the nation. Once the pride of the Army, the Punjab youth can now barely match up to the recruitment standards of the force.
While the takers for arms and explosives were difficult to find in Punjab, heroin was turning out to be a money spinner, not only for Indian farmers on the border — many of whom started working as couriers — but also for the smugglers on the Indian side. Pakistani couriers easily develop relations with farmers and lure them with huge commission for supplying the consignment. Pakistani mobile phone SIM cards help farmers in safely communicating with Pakistani smugglers without any fear of monitoring and evidence on apprehension. The rate for Indian couriers is Rs 50,000 for five packets to be carried and delivered across the border. If the delivery is made in Delhi, a smuggler makes Rs 2 lakh.
Punjab is the primary gateway for smuggled opiates. While there are reports of heroin brides from Afghanistan due to economic gains from the drug trade there (55 per cent of Afghanistan’s economy is tied to drugs), in Punjab, Maqboolpura in Amritsar is known as the ‘village of widows’ since many young men have died of drug abuse. The gravity of the menace can be gauged from the fact that only in a span of over nine months (Jan to Oct 2013), over 3,300 FIRs were registered in cases related to drugs and 3,600 persons were arrested in the state for illegally possessing banned drugs. Daulewala of Moga district has earned an unwanted sobriquet — ‘drug capital of Punjab’. In the past six years, this village, with nearly 400 households, has 390 cases registered against its residents pertaining to drug peddling and the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. Many villages do not have health clinics but have drugstores, which often make sizeable profits selling pills and other synthetic drugs to addicts who cannot afford heroin.
Drugs in Punjab are a multi-dimensional problem affecting different sections of society. It is a favoured route for the smuggling of heroin and the trend is emerging towards the local distribution of a part of the consignment in the villages and cities of the state. The local population is consuming traditional drugs like poppy husk (1.71 lakh kg last year), charas and ganja in villages and the urban youth is taking to smack. The consumption of shelf drugs from medical stores like cough syrups and Iodex etc. has also gone up. About 12.38 lakh banned capsules, 27,000 injections and 9,000 bottles of habit-forming syrups were seized last year. The production of synthetic drugs like M-amphetamine, or ICE, is being undertaken for smuggling to Europe, Canada and the US.
India is sandwiched between two major regions of the world producing illicit narcotics (the golden triangle and the golden crescent). On account of being a traditional cultivator of illicit opium and a supplier of this raw material for medical and scientific needs of pharmaceutical industry, which makes use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances to make critical medicines, the Government of India came up with a comprehensive policy on narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances in the year 2012. The policy attempts to curb the menace of drug abuse and contains provisions for treatment, rehabilitation and social re-integration of victims of drug abuse. Implementation of the provisions of the policy would also lead to reduction of crime and drugs abuse.
Since multiple agencies are involved in the process, there is a need for regular meetings for sharing information and coordination among different agencies in the region such as the police, BSF, Narcotics Control Bureau, Delhi Police, Intelligence Bureau, Customs and Excise, Enforcement Directorate, RAW, Railways and DRI.
There should be strict surveillance on smugglers and ‘hawala’ operators with past record, including those lodged in various jails in Punjab, Delhi, Rajasthan, J&K and Mumbai. Community participation measures would create awareness and also help in the identification of drug peddlers and persons living beyond their means in the border villages and towns. It is also imperative that some effective mechanism is evolved with Pakistan so that identified smugglers in Pakistan do not indulge in drug trafficking to India with impunity.
The computerised data bank relating to DNA and fingerprints of all drug dealers and peddlers should be maintained and shared among different enforcement and intelligence agencies. The provisions of the relevant Act like criminal procedure code and prison manual should be amended to allow DNA profiling of all arrested persons by different agencies, irrespective of the final outcome of the case. The conviction rate of the NDPS Act cases can be improved by conducting specialised training programmes and strengthening of Forensic Science Laboratories. There are stringent provisions for punishment under the Act and to prevent its misuse and miscarriage of justice, there are additional mandatory requirements pertaining to arrests and recovery to be fulfilled by the investigating officers. These can be highlighted in the training programmes.
Desomorphine, which goes with the street name ‘krokodil’, is a new drug currently and increasingly being used in Russia due to its relatively simple synthesis from codeine which is available over the counter. This was after Russia started a major crackdown on heroin production and trafficking. It has been estimated that around 1,00,000 people use ‘krokodil’ in Russia and its use has been confirmed among Russian expatriate communities in a number of other European countries. It is a cheap alternative to heroin but the impurity of homemade ‘krokodil’ produces severe tissue damage, phlebitis and gangrene, which sometimes requires limb amputation in long-term users. Such drugs may find usage in Punjab too.
As Punjab reels under the onslaught of heroin smuggling from Pakistan, there is a need to adopt a multi-pronged approach and initiate robust measures in the region to counter it urgently.
The writer is ADG, Punjab Police
* Digging tunnels underneath the barbed wire fencing.
* Throwing consignment over the fence.
* Concealing contraband in cultivated land of Indian farmers across the fence and transporting it by hiding it in tractors and other farm implements.
* Smuggling contraband concealed in goods legally imported through rail and road.
* Through riverbed area where barbed wire is either not erected or is breached.
Posted by Naxal Watch at 7:22 PM