Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 14:25 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 14:25 | SYDNEY

Singh and Obama: Of nukes and prawns


Rory Medcalf


26 November 2009 11:18

Culinary delights aside, I am still trying to work out what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the United States means for the implementation of the US-India nuclear deal. My impression, so far, is that the Indians are neither thrilled nor dismayed with whatever understandings President Obama may have communicated.

But Singh will at least take heart that, bilaterally, Obama has retreated from one of the more unrealistic points in the UN Security Council Resolution he promoted in September, which had in effect reiterated a call for India to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: that is, to abandon its nuclear weapons unilaterally. Instead, this week’s Singh-Obama joint statement says:

Prime Minister Singh and President Obama reaffirmed their shared vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and pledged to work together, as leaders of responsible states with advanced nuclear technology, for global non-proliferation, and universal, non-discriminatory and complete nuclear disarmament. Part of that vision is working together to ensure that all nations live up to their international obligations. India reaffirmed its unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing.

The United States reaffirmed its testing moratorium and its commitment to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and bring it into force at an early date. Both leaders agreed to consult each other regularly and seek the early start of negotiations on a multilateral, non-discriminatory and internationally verifiable Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty at the Conference on Disarmament …

It must have been a devil of a paragraph for the officials to negotiate. But they found some very clever agreed language. It basically signals Obama’s recognition that he is better off working with India than against it on the nuclear disarmament agenda. In particular, it is quite extraordinary that the US chose not to call itself an NPT state in this document, and instead identified with India: both, it seems, are now responsible states with advanced nuclear technology, nothing more, nothing less.

Perhaps this reflects the same spirit of inclusiveness and compromise that happily found a place for green prawn curry on the vegetarian menu at the state banquet.

Photo by Flickr user burnt sugar, used under a Creative Commons license.