Friday, October 10, 2008

The Penguin Annual Lecture - we want to hear YOUR view

‘A New Century—and the Dark Side of Globalization’

by Chancellor of the University of Oxford and University of Newcastle
and former Governor of Hong Kong

Chris Patten

This Monday, 13th October 2008, Lord Chris Patten, former Governor of Hong Kong, will deliver the second Penguin Annual Lecture entitled 'A New Century - and the Dark Side of Gloablisation.

Lord Patten's new book, What Next? tackles the big questions about our global condition and our collective future with a verve and authority no other current commentator could match. Very little in the world, he says, has turned out as we might have expected twenty years ago. But for reasons Lord Patten explains, he remains an optimist in the face of this formidable agenda.

In the wake of US President George Bush signing the US-India nuclear trade agreement, which allows India access to US technology and cheap atomic energy in return for permitting United Nations inspections of some of its civilian nuclear facilities - but not military nuclear sites, what do you think to the controversial deal?

Below are extracts from Chris Patten's What Next? which provide a brief insight into the creation of nuclear states, with particular reference to India:

'Today, there are eight confirmed nuclear states – China, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, the UK and the USA. North Korea may have weapons. Iran is suspected of having an active programme to manufacture them. These declining figures, given that about forty-four states are reckoned to have the industrial and technological capacity to develop weapons (partly because of their civil nuclear-power programmes), represent the partial success of the efforts to contain proliferation that were promoted particularly vigorously in the aftermath of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

Why do some states want these weapons while others are happy without them? There are generally reckoned to be five relevant issues – security, prestige, national politics, technology and economics. These are not discrete motivations; they mingle and merge.

Security is an obvious consideration, though it does not in all circumstances stand up today to rigorous scrutiny. The Soviet Union developed a bomb because the United States already had one. China did not trust the Soviet Union or the United States; and once China had tested a bomb, India wanted one too. Anything India could explode, Pakistan wanted. It was even more directly relevant that India began researching nuclear weapons after her defeat in 1962 at the hands of China, and that Pakistan began research on them ten years later after her defeat by India. Britain did not think it could wholly depend – special relationship or not – on its main ally.

From the outset, under the post-war Labour government, there were worries both that an American nuclear monopoly would not be acceptable, and that other countries might develop weapons of their own. Moreover, Britain was at the time – perhaps until Suez in 1956 – still regarded by many as one of the world’s superpowers. France was explicit that it could not depend on America. Israel was worried that it was surrounded by hostile Arab states, committed to wiping it out. Its nuclear weapon (whose production South Africa may well have assisted) was the final deterrent against conventional threats.

Many of these security considerations have been publicly argued. For example, the former Indian foreign minister Jaswant Singh has said that ‘the nuclear age entered India’s neighbourhood when China became a nuclear power in October 1964....Sometimes domestic politics determines the decision to develop or reject nuclear weapons. In India, the arrival of the conservative Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in office in 1998 led rapidly to turning a small and more or less covert nuclear capability that had existed since 1974 into a more open programme, with several nuclear weapons tests being conducted in 1998.'

What is your view on the US-India nuclear deal? Does it bring India closer to the United States at a time when the two countries are forging a strategic relationship to pursue common interests such as fighting terrorism, spreading democracy, and preventing the domination of Asia by a single power? Or is the agreement overly beneficial for India and lacking sufficient safeguards to prevent New Delhi from continuing to produce nuclear weapons

Let us know your opinion on India's current nuclear state-simply click on 'comments' below.

Join the debate here. Penguin. Encouraging interaction.

1 comment:

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