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  • Walker's World: India's nuke deal falters

    United Press International - International Intelligence - Walker's World: India's nuke deal falters

    Walker's World: India's nuke deal falters

    By MARTIN WALKER
    UPI Editor Emeritus


    MUMBAI, March 6 (UPI) -- There is a serious problem with this week's detailed negotiations on the nuclear cooperation agreement between India and the United States, whose success is essential if the Bush administration's rhetoric about "strategic partnership" with India is to become a reality.

    Among the diplomats and officials in Washington and New Delhi, the pact is seen as a done deal, with only a few technical issues left to be resolved and critics of the agreement are dismissed as "isolated voices" and "a handful of disaffected scientists."

    But in a leafy suburb of Mumbai, sitting over cups of tea in his living room, the grand old man of India's nuclear scientists told United Press International that he was firmly opposed to the deal, and that as currently drafted it would fatally compromise Indian sovereignty over its nuclear program.

    "I do not think I am a lone disaffected scientist," said Peter Ayengar, former chairman of India's Atomic Energy commission. "Every other living former chairman of the Commission agrees with me. Indeed, I do not know any Indian nuclear scientists who do not agree."

    "As currently drafted, the agreement would force us to stop re-processing nuclear fuel, something we have been doing for thirty years. It would terminate our strategic program (India's nuclear weapons program) by exposing us to sanctions if we conducted nuclear tests. And it puts impossible barriers in our path to ongoing and future research, including our well-developed programs for fast-breeder reactors and to use thorium rather than uranium as a nuclear fuel," he added.

    "By saying that India shall not re-process fuel and not develop the fast-breeder reactors, this deal undermines our ability to produce energy in the future when uranium runs out," Ayengar went on. "This is a question of national sovereignty, of India's right and ability to decide such things for ourselves."

    Ayengar could speak out because he is retired. Other Indian nuclear scientists who are still serving, who spoke to UPI off the record because of a gag order issued by the Indian government, agreed with his objections to the deal. Some went further, claiming "we believe the real U.S. motive is to take control over India's nuclear capabilities."

    The deal began as a way to allow India legal access to U.S. nuclear technology and to uranium fuel for its nuclear power stations. This required India to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the international control system, which India has for 40 years refused to do. In the initial agreement of July 2005, the Bush administration thought it had met India's concerns by allowing India to separate its military from its civilian reactors, and to limit the intrusive inspection regime to the civilian sector.

    As then written, Ayengar thought the deal might be acceptable. But by the time it had gone through the U.S. Congress, he told UPI, "the terms had been substantially rewritten. It is no longer a partnership agreement between India and the United States but a non-proliferation mechanism that puts us in the corner."

    The opposition of Ayengar and other nuclear scientists has thrown up formidable political hurdles to the deal in India's Parliament. Leftist members of the governing coalition are against it from a deep-rooted suspicion of U.S. policies in general, while the conservative and nationalist opposition parties oppose it for compromising Indian sovereignty.

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh backs the deal for three main reasons. First, it ends India's status as a nuclear pariah by bringing it within the NPT system. Second, this means that India can in future legally import uranium as fuel for its reactors. (Ayengar confirmed that this had not been much of a problem in the past, and that he had been able to acquire uranium from China.) Third, it opens the way for India to start exporting its nuclear power technology and to sell nuclear power stations into what looks to be a booming future market.

    India's newest reactor, the 220-Megawatt pressurized heavy water reactor called the Kaiga 3, went critical last week and will start delivering power later this month. Anil Kakodkar, current chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, says the extraordinary low costs and the short 5-year construction time "has set a new international benchmark."

    India's Nuclear Power Corporation claims that it can build export versions of Kaiga 3 for "less than half the current international average cost of $1,500 per installed Kilowatt." Indian media reports suggest that initial negotiations have begun for export sales to Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

    After detailed talks last week between Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, American officials claimed they saw no real problem in drafting an agreement that would satisfy India -- that it would be guaranteed future uranium supplies and allowed to conduct nuclear tests. But both Indian and U.S. negotiators told reporters the issue of India's right to re-process spent nuclear fuel "would be the toughest nut to crack" and would probably require "political intervention at the highest level."

    There is no doubt that both governments want the deal to succeed, primarily as a symbol of the new strategic friendship of India and the U.S. This is rooted in the way that each country feels the need for support as the world's two largest democracies confront the challenge of China's dramatic rise in economic and military potential, a challenge that was emphasized this week with China's announcement of another 18 percent increase in its military budget.

    The question for Ayengar and India's nuclear scientists is whether the price the Americans are now demanding is too high.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Is the price demanded by the Americans too high? What will happen if India's demand to be allowed to reprocess spent fuel is is denied? Could we walk out of the deal, and still supply nuclear reactors to other countries?

  • #2
    I am no nuclear scientist.

    I also agree. :)


    "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

    I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.

    HAKUNA MATATA

    Comment


    • #3
      I am against the deal, however "important" and "strategic" its played up to be.
      Once Bush is out of the office and Manmohan Singh is finally able to see through the haze he's been living in, I hope the deal dies a quick death.

      The deal is simply a backdoor to put a cap on India's nuke programme.

      Comment


      • #4
        With Kinmist and Ray Sirs..i agree too. :)

        Sirs..thorium is our future. And we should develop that fully, start our own NSG, NPT based on thorium plants.

        I wish the scientists give a proper alternate development plan based on that. They do have thorium based reactors critical on an experimental basis. How much money do they require from increasing output from 200mw to say 1500 MW on say a 7 year basis? Can a project plan for the same be developed.

        Time to junk the Hyde act. One can easily see the mentality behind the enact..

        Comment


        • #5
          I agree with the thorium concept. I believe India has the world's largest deposits. Am I right?

          Comment


          • #6
            Hmm... I'm ready to take the word of a nuclear scientist... I think the deal needs to be re-assessed...
            Cow is the only animal that not only inhales oxygen, but also exhales it.
            -Rekha Arya, Former Minister of Animal Husbandry

            Comment


            • #7
              TJ Sir yes India has some of the largest thorium deposits. Ranges 30-50% of known deposits. It has also the best tech as far as thorium based reactors go. There's a forum dedicated to discussing that. Check it out. Pretty good stuff..

              Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum :: Index

              Admin sirs i know it's incorrect to post forum refs here. But this is a superspeciality one for reference. Thanks.

              Comment


              • #8
                This is my understanding, I dont understand whats wrong with the deal.
                US will sell fuel only for our civilian reactors. Since they provide fuel, they are within their rights to dictate what happens to the spent fuel. It would be great, if they take care of the spent fuel disposal, it more time and money consuming :)

                The US has no say in running any of our military reactors and they dont have any say in the spent fuel from those reactors. Also, the US does not has any control over Fast breeder reactors built, fueled and maintained by India. Also any new reactor will be categorized by GoI, independent of US.

                Infact, with this deal, we have a more reliable supply of technology and fuel for our civilian reactors, so we can use Indian fuel for our military reactors. That way we can afford to build more civilian power stations.
                A grain of wheat eclipsed the sun of Adam !!

                Comment


                • #9
                  We could procure from other countries too. The French and Russia are always willing to supply us what we need - if the required money is paid.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Samudra View Post
                    We could procure from other countries too. The French and Russia are always willing to supply us what we need - if the required money is paid.
                    No, we cannot. They are still a part of NSG and with US on the other side it would be next to impossible to get the goodies. The point is US has the political clout in any major international orgn unlike Russia and France.

                    Regardless, Russia and France has to agree with India on the spent fuel re-processing, IMO that would never happen. At present, I remember reading that we are sending back the spent fuel to Russia or that was the agreement for Russian built Kudangulam.

                    So if you go with the US, you have an easy access to US, France, UK and Russia's technological edge, you have an option to pick and choose ;)
                    A grain of wheat eclipsed the sun of Adam !!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by gamercube View Post
                      United Press International - International Intelligence - Walker's World: India's nuke deal falters

                      Walker's World: India's nuke deal falters

                      By MARTIN WALKER
                      UPI Editor Emeritus


                      "I do not think I am a lone disaffected scientist," said Peter Ayengar, former chairman of India's Atomic Energy commission. "Every other living former chairman of the Commission agrees with me. Indeed, I do not know any Indian nuclear scientists who do not agree." ...............
                      Peter Ayengar .

                      No such individual has ever been served as the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India.

                      Probably the author means Dr. Padmanabha Krishnagopala Iyengar.

                      The least one can do is get the spelling of the surname right. Having the right first name, would also help.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Jay View Post
                        No, we cannot. They are still a part of NSG and with US on the other side it would be next to impossible to get the goodies. The point is US has the political clout in any major international orgn unlike Russia and France.

                        Regardless, Russia and France has to agree with India on the spent fuel re-processing, IMO that would never happen. At present, I remember reading that we are sending back the spent fuel to Russia or that was the agreement for Russian built Kudangulam.

                        So if you go with the US, you have an easy access to US, France, UK and Russia's technological edge, you have an option to pick and choose ;)
                        I would agree there. The US pretty much spells out the line the NSG is going to take.

                        There appears to be a lot of suspicion about the deal. I will put this down to paranoia inherent in the national culture ( perhaps).

                        Here is an example (unrelated) but I hope I make my point. The last time we flew to India ( my wife's first trip there), on the Bombay -Bangalore leg one of the announcements was " no photography allowed in Indian airspace". I was a little dissapointed, cuz I wanted to take some real cool pics of the pretty scenery. I could have gone to Google Earth and got the same pics ( with better resolution) than through my digital poking through the window of an airplane!! huh? what is India scared off?? it's own shadow?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Jay View Post
                          So if you go with the US, you have an easy access to US, France, UK and Russia's technological edge, you have an option to pick and choose ;)
                          Oye Jay

                          Thats what I was trying to say...we're not going to be buying from the Americans alone...so why worry ?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Samudra View Post
                            Oye Jay

                            Thats what I was trying to say...we're not going to be buying from the Americans alone...so why worry ?
                            Ah, now I get it, its coz of too much pessimism around this thread ;)
                            A grain of wheat eclipsed the sun of Adam !!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              read this on thorium,

                              Thorium Power,
                              Energy from Thorium

                              Th Better than Uranium (TreeHugger)

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