Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Nuclear deal- is it such a coup?

The media seems convinced we are on to a terrric deal- I refer to the NSG waiver given to India. This is one of those issues where it's really hard to make an accurate judgement. The key is the right to test in future. Now, it's not that we have abjured the right to test. But, the terms of the Indo- US accord are such that the economic costs could turn out to be prohibitive.

I read that the US and other suppliers may ask for all equipment and materials to be returned. If so, the cost would be sufficiently high to deter Indian policy makers from going in for a test. The tricky part is whether in the evolving world scenario, the US and others will want to enforce those terms, given that India will have grown in stature and is also perceived as a reasonable player that will not test without reason. So, I guess this is one of those things that time alone will tell.

A second issue is that we don't seem to be getting full cooperation in the nuclear energy field. Brahma Chellaney has some caustic remarks to make in Rediff.com:

Today, there is not even the pretence that the deal offers 'full civil nuclear energy cooperation' or that India is to 'acquire the same benefits and advantages' as the US. But why blame the US? In his desperation to secure the deal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] has repeatedly moved the goalpost.

For example, he has breached his assurance to Parliament on August 17, 2006 on 'the removal of restrictions on all aspects of cooperation and technology transfers pertaining to civil nuclear energy'. He had added: 'We will not agree to any dilution that would prevent us from securing the benefits of full civil nuclear cooperation as amplified above'.

Dr Singh also has reneged on his July 29, 2005, promise in the Lok Sabha: 'We shall undertake the same responsibilities and obligations' and 'we expect the same rights and benefits' as the US. As is apparent, the NSG waiver is neither clean nor unconditional. If anything, it is messy. Yet Dr Singh was quick to hail it as 'a forward-looking and momentous decision', even claiming that 'It marks the end of India's decades-long isolation from the nuclear mainstream and of the technology-denial regime'.

He again pegged his newfound interest in commercial nuclear power to 'environmentally sustainable economic growth' and to meeting 'the challenge of climate change', although one of the first things to be knocked out of the US-drafted waiver text at the earlier August 21-22 NSG meeting was Section 1(e), which read: 'recognize the world's need for clean and reliable sources of energy for sustained growth and prosperity'.

Not many NSG members buy the spiel that nuclear energy can help reduce global CO emissions or be a cost-effective answer to the growing electricity demands. The path to energy and climate security lies through carbon-free renewable energy, which by harnessing nature frees a nation from reliance on external sources of fuel supply. Yet such is the nuclear power hype that few Indians know that their country today generates much more wind power than nuclear energy.

1 comment:

Sandy said...


Here is an article that shows why Renewable sources of energy are not feasible.