Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Arash-Professor Darren C. Zook teaches in Political Science and International and Area Studies at UC Berkeley. His research interests include human rights, comparative Asian politics, international law, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. He is currently at work on a book-length manuscript on the legal and political dimensions of decolonization and its legacy for global politics.

: as a scholar on south and southeast Asia, how do you see the recent nuclear
state-going to be a motivating factors for those countries seeking nuclear
technology ? i.e: Iran

A:I was extremely disappointed with the
US-India nuclear agreements. The idea behind this from the perspective of the Bush administration seems to have been that (1) it was the best
we were going to get with India anyway, and (2) India could be promoted as a "good" model of new nucelar country because it is secular and democratic and, of course, opposed to terrorism. The problem with both of these lines of reasoning is that they overlook and undermine the principles embedded in the
Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), which might make it easier to deal with India in the short term, but will make it difficult if not impossible in the long term to establish any
credible way to oppose other nucelar aspirant states. Also, many people forget that when India
declared itself a nuclear state in May of 1998 by conducting a series of nucelar test explosions, it
did so under the leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a party which, though not
necessarily extremist, has certainly dedicated itself to undermining secularism in India and at
times has hinted that only Hindus could be "authentic" Indians and that Christians and Muslims
should go elsewhere.

Q: how do you think the regional nuclear powers - India and Pakistan- will deal
with a nuclear Iran? do these countries favor a harsher tone of rhetoric against Iran ? do they
prefer military strikes?

A:Iran is not the most important concern for Pakistan. What Pakistan really wants is
to be treated as an equal to India; that is, it will also want the "special treatment" from
Washington. Otherwise, it looks as if the Bush administration accepts a "Hindu bomb" but not an
"Islamic bomb." If Pakistan does not get equal treatment, then it will look to China for
leverage and certainly will find common cause with Iran.

India, of course, does not want a nuclear Pakistan and certainly does not want a
nuclear Iran. I doubt seriously that India would engage in any kind of provocative action toward
Iran, but it will certainly use its image as a "non-extremist" country to preserve its special
arrangement with Washington.

From Iran's perspective, it is difficult to take the Bush administration seriously.
The agreement with India specifically allows some nuclear reactors to remain under Indian military
control, and therefore outside the purview of international monitors. Why would Iran agree to a
strict monitoring regime if India does not have to?

The final factor is, of course, China. China has cultivated ties with Pakistan and Iran at times, hoping to keep India off balance (not necessarily in military terms, but certainly in economic and
political terms). It is possible that the key issue here for India is not nuclear military power
but nuclear energy. India's economy is energy-hungry and one of the things that keeps India from
competing seriously with China in the world economic stage is the inability to have a consistent
energy supply upon which to build its economy. It is possible that the Bush administration is
really hoping to make India a democratic economic alternative to China to keep pressure on China
to democratize or simply to thwart its regional Asian ambitions. The question is, will the
economic payoff for this strategy outweigh the potential nuclearization of an increasing number of
countries as the NPT framework dissolves into uselessness? I think not.

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