Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Nuke deal – an unconditional waiver for India?

Some of the features of the Indo – US nuke deal -

1.The Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) has to change rules to accommodate India, and for this the Hyde's act asks for a permanent ban on nuclear tests.

2.Access to uranium would be tightly regulated (by whom, we know).

3.All civil nuclear fuel-cycle technologies would be prohibited (including spent fuel reprocessing. Reprocessed fuel may be used in weapons - as suggested by the Bush administration in the Iran imbroglio).

4.The NSG has the right to demand the return of transferred items and material (including fuel, which the deal promises India to have).

5.Forced shutdown of Cirus, one of the two research reactors in India, producing weapons grade plutonium.

6.India is to be barred from ever halting international inspection of its entire civil nuclear program, even if the US unilaterally terminated cooperation.

My hugely pessimistic views on these clauses -

1.Being opposed to having and developing nuclear arms, I would not mind India stopping the development of nuclear weapons. But that decision should be taken by India alone and not be imposed by any other nation in the world. It is easy for one to ask the other to stop smoking, when the first one himself has a cigar between his lips.

2.This looks like a way through which the countries (read the US) can pull the strings on India's foreign policy. We saw India vote against Iran in the IAEA just as the deal was being discussed. What would be the scene once the deal is operational?

3.One of the reasons environment groups like the Greenpeace opposed nuclear energy is the matter of spent fuel. No full proof method is available to dispose spent fuel. People may say they have methods, but can they say this with complete conviction? Fuel reprocessing is one way by which we could reduce the harms of the spent fuel. In the sense, the spent fuel after one cycle of energy generation may be reprocessed, and used again as fuel for energy generation. This would mean that the final spent fuel, is much less radioactive when compared to the spent fuel after the first stage of generation. By imposing a ban on fuel reprocessing we have a question to answer – what to do with the spent fuel? Can we just send the spent fuel to these developing countries who themselves are worried about the amounts of spent fuel being generated in their own lands?

* The six points of the deal have been taken from the article Emulate America's bipartisan handling, written by Brahma Chellaney, published as the leader page article in the Hindu dated 28 June 2008.

Read the article here -