India and US are talking about a nuclear deal where in US will provide nuclear fuel for Indian reactors to generate power using nuclear energy. In other words, for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Hyde’s act is the act which allows US govt to sell nuclear fuel to India. What does the US need in return?
- Separation of Indian civilian and military nuclear establishments
- Compliance with IAEA to safeguard Indian nuclear reactors. In other words provide access to Indian nuclear reactors to IAEA personnel
- Process in place to ensure that processed nuclear fuel is not used by India for military purposes like to manufacture a nuclear bomb!
- Complete ban on all future nuclear weapons tests by India!
Manmohan singh government wants this deal from US so that we can build more nuclear reactors to satisfy India’s growing power needs. Growing economy requires more power for its industries and life style.
Bush administration wants this deal to contain India , gain access in the sub continent and there by use India to contain China.
Before going into the details of this deal, let us see whether India is a true nuclear power today. What does being a nuclear power mean ?
Having the ability to produce nuclear weapons ?
Having tested this capability ?
Having trusted the tests to a satisfactory level ?
Having actualy built bombs based on the tests ?
Having a delivery mechanism in place for the nuclear weapons ?
Its all of the above. But where is India ? Testing 3-4 low yield bombs in a gap of 20 years does not mean we are a nuclear power. We first tested in 1970s then in 1998 after more than 20 years.
Take the case of US for instance. Over a thousand nuclear tests to ensure that the bombs of each and every size that they test works as expected. And today they are planning to phase out their old nuclear weapons and re introduce mini nukes and what not.
Where as India just did some low yield explosions and assumed that the same data could be used to build high yield weapons. Can we be more foolish than introducing untested bombs into our arsenal ? Or are american, chinese, russian, french etc fools to have tested each of their weapons design before including them into their arsenal ?
Many people today wrongly believe that since India has 1998 test data it can do computer simulations for a higher yield using the same data. Any guy in software industry will understand how foolish this approach is.
Consider a database which has been tested with 100 records and we do some select query from that database and see that its working fine. And then we move that database into production servers. In the production the database ends up having a million records and our select query is taking infinite time to run now. Reason ?? applying the standards of 100 records to million records. The true strategy should have been that if the database was supposed to have million records in production, then it MUST HAVE BEEN TESTED AGAINST millions records, not 100 records.
Computer simulations are just playing with numerical data. But then computer simulations will not handle the scenario where a new variable comes into picture say when you increase the yields. We will know about any new variables introduced only when the actual explosion of that higher yield takes place. So imagine a situation tomorrow that we carry out a nuclear strike during a critical war time and it simply doesnt work !!!
Note that pakistan has no such worries because, its technology is a complete chinese copy cat which has been properly tested.
And for the thermo nuclear weapons that India claims to have, not a single weapon of that magnitude has been tested by us. In 1998 we tested a medium yield weapon. We are not to blame the scientists here. It is the lack of political will, which results in tests being carried out once in 25-30 years.
The current US nuclear warheads dateback to the cold war and are about 20 years old and this is considered to be the average lifetime of nuclear warheads and so US plans to replace all these old war heads with new ones. For this purpose US has started a programme called Reliable Replacement Warheads to check the reliability of new warheads being introduced. In other words even after doing over 1000 nuclear tests and thousands of computer simulations US is still not confident about its warhead designs and is conducting a study to make sure that no more tests are required. In fact some time back US scientists found a flaw in W-76 war heads which the Trident D-5 missiles carry !
The same US congress which has approved modernisation of US nuclear weapons has said in Hyde’s act that India should not conduct any more tests ! In March this year, US Deputy Undersecretary of Energy Clay Sell informed Russia that US reserves the right to conduct further nuclear tests ! Isnt it a total sell out for India, by signing this nuclear deal ? In his book India’s Emerging Nuclear Posture: Between Recessed Deterrent and Ready Arsenal Ashley concludes saying Indian nuclear capability is limited to low yield fission bombs !
And what do we get from the US nuclear deal?
Nuclear fuel that will be monitored at each level end to end and the spent fuel will be taken back to US so that India doesnt use it as raw material to manufacture more bombs.
Note that India also needs to pay for this fuel. Its not free. We also pay for the technology. Then there is a dependency on US for power generation in India. Once we become completely dependent on US for the fuel for our nuclear reactors, if something goes wrong and US stops supplying the fuel, we will be left nowhere ! Also note that in this deal, US doesnt allow India to buy and store nuclear fuel for future contingency. We get the fuel on an immediate requirement basis only.
Lets look at the root problem. India needs to increase its power generation to satisfy the power needs of its blooming economy. What do we do for that ?
India has the world’s second largest reserves of Thorium. Thorium is a radioactive material and can be used to generate power. What we lack is the technology to do that. Even the west is conducting research on generating power using Thorium. Even in India we are doing research on fast breeder reactors which can generate power using Thorium. We need to concentrate on improving the quality of this research, concentrate more on this, provide more funds, pull in more talents. Once we achieve this goal, we wont need nuclear fuel from any other country. We have lot of Thorium available.
In the mean time, till we succeed in this research, we need to come out with a comprehensive plan to satisfy our power needs. We have a large reserve of coal, so much so that we can even produce oil using our coal. Even China has a large reserve of Coal and they are opening a new coal plant almost every week to meet their energy needs.
Then we need to concentrate on maximising the usage of our existing uranium resources. Plan proper thermo-electric projects. Make use of available wind energy, tidal power and what not. Proper planning and use of technology can help us achieve our goals.
Do not sign the nuclear deal under the current conditions. And if we still do sign, then lets stop calling ourselves a nuclear power. Remember that after spending crores of rupees on missile research, even today our missiles can’t even reach Beijing !
Sometimes I feel that our politicians know all this and thats why we are not harsh in our response to intrusions. Kargil happened and we ended up attacking our own soil but never crossed the LOC. Why ? Pakistan had nuclear missiles on high alert targetting Indian cities. (NOTE: India didnt have any nuclear missiles targetting pakistan then. I am not aware of the current situation)
Chinese incursion into Arunachal Pradesh. A local MP from Arunachal Pradesh recently revealed that Chinese have intruded over 20 KMs inside the Indian territory. Still we dont respond. Why? Chinese have nuclear weapons and a delivery system.
And then there are some pseudo peace lovers in India who say that, we dont need nuclear weapons as we are a peace loving country.
Well, my dear fellow Indians. Strength respects Strength. Krishna says in Mahabharata to Arjuna, You may or may not use your mighty weapons in a war. But it is very very important that you possess them
I am not proposing to have nukes so that one day we use them. Only a fool like America will use nuclear weapons. We Indians by our very nature love mother nature, worship planet earth and we hate using weapons which affect the environment on a large scale and over long periods of time.
All I am saying is, we need to have nukes so that others think twice before trying out any misadventure on us. And these nukes have to properly tested and trusted weapons mounted on tested and trusted delivery systems.
Be strong and then talk about peace. The whole world will admire and listen. That kind of peace works. There is a difference between US talking about peace and Afghanistan talking about peace.
If you are weak and talk about peace, it looks like a coward waving a white flag in fear of losing the war. Such a peace doesnt work. More kargils and More Arunachals will follow such a peace. Let us not allow 1962 to repeat. Nehru had said, India doesnt need an army, we are a peace loving nation. and then came the chinese attack.
Of course we are a peace loving nation. Common man loves peace all over the world. India needs strength to ensure that this peace remains forever.
i think the last point you made on “”what US wants in return”” doesn’t seem to be true, if i am not wrong. it has been clear that, india can not use fuel provided by US for test, but it doesnt abide india from conducting independant test as india has not signed NPT.
let me know if i am wrong
You have said that we would require 2,50,000 MW of power by 2020 and even if this US Nuclear Deal is signed by us still we will be able to generate just 20,000 MW’s that’s even less than 10 %. But is it not that still 10 % is something .
With the kind of growth rate we are having will it be fair to leave 10% companies close down because they don’t have any power to manufacture their goods. Going through our PM’s statement :-“”We have set a modest target of 20,000 MW of nuclear power generation by the year 2020. This can be “”doubled”” with the opening up of international cooperation,”” the Prime Minister said.
So that makes 40,000 MW’s of power which is 16 % of total power that will be needed.
I am not saying that we should stop our Thorium based research . It would be best if we develop this technology so that in case if US threatens to move out of this deal we have alternate arrangements or we have got our indigenous ways of developing nuclear fuel. But till this happens should we leave our companies suffer because of this.
Moreover Russia , France have clearly said that once we follow the safeguards of IAEA and this deal is thru they are ready to provide the nuclear fuel and their enrichment technologies. So here also our dependency on America reduces .
One more question to you..
Is there any problem in placing our civilian and not military nuclear facilities under IAEA ? Moreover our Fast Breeder Test Reactor & Prototype Fast Breeder Test Reactors are out of this civilian list .
Also there’s no where mentioned in the deal that you have to support the US in each of it’s Foreign Affairs. We can have our independent stands on this as US monetary interests also lie with this deal involving more than 150 billion dollars which you have clearly mentioned.
I think the points you have put forward are really very worthy and before signing this deal our government should take care of all of these concerns . But still in my opinion we should not oppose this deal . We do need power and we need it badly .
Just check this news artcle “”India’s 5 out of 17 nuke power plants shut down for lack of fuel”” …
Very well said jv
The language of The US-India 123 Agreement and The Hyde Act is simply patronizing towards India. Both place conditions on India that no self-respecting nation should agree to.
I have read dozens of arguments in favor and in opposition to US-India Nuclear Deal. Based on that, my opinion coincides with the Communists and BJP, and you, that India should not sign the deal as it.
I am very glad that Deal is on the life support now and I will be even gladder when it dies!
The US has never done much in altruism after WWII. It has significant agenda in pushing this deal to contain China, by having an option of having a significant leverage over India through is energy, economics, IAEA, and NSG. (US looms larger in all international organizations; it is a 800 lb gorilla). Does India really want to relinquish its sovereignity
to get into long term constraint of having to obey its US master?
Self reliance is important tool for India who founded NAM. Why serve Western (or US) interests for short term gains? India currently has 3-5% nuclear energy portion in energy/power sector. That is unlikely to get to 20% any time in one or two decades. So, it is foolish to think India can become France overnight like France (80% nuclear energy – one of the least oil dependent countries).
I can very well understand the sentiments of your words but democracy demands and thrives on differences in opinion and being stationed in India, allow me to differ with you on your views.The question here to ask is “”can we do better without the agreement, or, can we get a better one?””. I personally believe the ans to the 2nd question is NO.
I am afraid that its not US but India who is in more need of nuclear energy and technology. Look at the way China is surging ahead with deals all over the world.40 new nuclear reactors by 2020. In a lucrative deal announced earlier this month, China has got a stake in a major uranium mine in Kazakhstan.They have also pitched in French and US governments and finally decided to go with US as they offered extraordinary terms on technology transfer and financing to push the French out of the deal.Unlike the Indian communists who think New Delhi should buy only Russian reactors, the Chinese communists knows the value of playing the entire nuclear field and leveraging the best possible terms.
As for holding out for something better, we must examine dispassionately the two main charges against the present deal: that it binds us not to test, and that it ?caps? our nuclear arsenal. It is perhaps not sufficiently realised that even under the Non-Proliferation Treaty,from which we are being exempted, a state can opt out and conduct a test if it feels that is vital to its security, provided it is prepared to face the consequences. Nothing in the Indo-US agreement prevents us from doing likewise.
Also I personally dont think that we will be dictated by foreign policies, or say foreign power, completely. Without entering into the rights and wrongs of this view, I would like to state this point: international relationships are shaped by strength, the stronger you are the greater your freedom of action.I think India is more vulnerable to foreign pressures without this agreement than we would be by increasing our strength through an intelligent use of it to put through various development programmes which currently falter.
The point that I am trying to make is we need to be more diplomatic and play the games from our point of view.Nobody gets everything they wish for and the way they want. All international agreements require movement away from one’s first preferences. All too often in our history ,we have suffered by insisting on the ideally desirable and rejecting what is attainable.I am not too sure whether thats exactly what the politicians are doing as they think themselves above the mother land. The real issue is facing the consequences, which is entirely a matter, not of laws and agreements, but of our self-confidence. What is called the international community has long sought to stop our testing by threatening penalties. We faced those when we thought necessary; we can do so again(like when BJP did the nuclear test some time back). The point of relevance is that if we ever decide to end our unilateral moratorium on testing, the international reactions can be no worse if we complete this deal than if we forego it.
Either ways the ball is in our court….
The spent fuel becomes Plutonium 239 which can be used as fissile material to make nuclear weapons
Nice Article..Excellent work done..
Can you please eloborate this
“”Nuclear fuel that will be monitored at each level end to end and the spent fuel will be taken back to US so that India doesnt use it as raw material to manufacture more bombs.””
What is the form of fuel after we use it??
Thanks in advance
But all the benefits listed above to India, have nothing to do with nuclear deal directly/indirectly, unless and until US relates the both explicitly, and the very fact that US relates the benefits to nuclear deal means, there is a lot more US stands to gain from the deal !
I dont think there is any need to play second fiddle to US. Outsourcing to India started from US and Europe, inspite of India not having signed NPT/CTBT.
Globaly economy/politics/Indian importance/talent would force US to give most of the benefits listed above even without the nuclear deal. US will have no other way, else US would be the loser. So I dont think we have to link OTHER benefits to nuclear deal.
As I said, if US really wants to sell nuclear fuel/technology to India, let it just “”sell”” it to us, we will pay whatever the money and purchase it (like F-16s or Boeings) and the matter should end there. Just like the way we have been doing business with the Russians.
Instead if US starts laying this and that conditions, let them keep the fuel themselves. It really doesnt make any difference to India as far as practical power generation is concerned.
US is pushing for the deal because they stand to gain more on it, and we should actually be making use of their needs! Let us remember that US is not doing any ‘favor’ to us, there are billions of dollars tied to this deal. We should be wise before spending so much of money!
A decent link to explore further..
You might be right in some places but at the same time,let me talk on the positive outcomes if we sign this deal with US; not only for India but also for US.I will start with the benefits for US:
From 1970-78 when US sponsored NPT (Nuclear Proliferation Treaty) and its subsequent laws, it was their intent to punish India for exploding a nuclear bomb in 1974. They set a date of 1967 as criteria for inclusion in the select group. China was gleeful; as they had exploded their bomb in 1964, hence found their berth in this group automatically. So did France. To exclude India with a fifth of humanity and a bomb was a mistake. India at that time was economically weak.
For 25 years India endured its exclusion for not signing the NPT and was barred from any civilian use nuclear technology and materials. Later US politicians, to placate Pakistan, even blamed India for starting a nuclear arms race. In short, India was ignored. Although China was no better economically then, yet it was welcomed as one of the World powers.So one could think that the US administration is looking out for a new era as such..
Then economically,India will import technology and hardware from US if they are to set up nuclear plants(I heard they are planning to set up 10 large size plant in next 15 years).That means orders worth 15-25billion USD will be placed with US companies and rest goes to Europa. Fund to India will come in the form of FDI or bank loans.n return India will pay it back with goods and services export, in the same way China did it for the past 25 years. It is a win-win situation for the US lenders and US suppliers. Further expansion of business dealings on both sides will follow.
The high tech manufacturing industry is at a take off stage in India. In last 3 months, announcements by big US companies totaling $7 billion dollars investment have been made. This has gone far beyond India?s expectations. This sector together with IT services and BPO will power the US industry and businesses into higher profitability and help India accelerate its growth. Co-operation in auto parts, pharmaceuticals, R & D and defense industry cannot be ruled out. For each of these US is looking for a low cost supplier, that could be alternative to China.
On military and political benefits,US will be able to erase the cold war irritant factor from the scene. India is not politically and diplomatically aligned with US as Europe is, but India as a strategic partner in ensuring safety of sea-lanes of the Indian Ocean is very valuable. At the moment as long as US stays in Iraq and Afghanistan, the world will perceive US as a big bully. A major regional power, with a different outlook than the European and the US is needed to cool the tempers off.Forty percent of worlds? oil and commerce passes through the Indian Ocean sea-lanes. These today are unprotected. Pirates in the Red Sea and at the Malacca Straits prey on commerce and alliance with India is going to be of utmost importance to US. Moreover they can use India as an ally against the growing influence of china in apac.
So now what will India get out of this deal????
The de-facto recognition of India as a nuclear power
Future recognition of India as a permanent UN Security Council member.
There is an urgent need in India for capital to build its infrastructure and manufacturing base. And there is only one source to get it i.e. US & Europe. US and Europe at this moment are content with sending capital to China to supply them with consumer goods. The former very cleverly had avoided exporting manufacturing technology to supply high priced, high technology capital goods to China. This component together with auto-parts, pharmaceuticals and computer hardware could herald India into big leagues in ten years and beyond. Commercial Aircraft manufacture, ship building, factories to make giant power plants, steel making plants, mining & drilling hardware, petroleum & petrochemical plant building facilities could be ultimately shared with India. The latter within ten years will have a workforce sufficiently skilled to undertake all the foregoing. It will be beneficial to US. Labor costs in India, will always stay a third of US, and European costs. That will make India an ideal candidate for this technology transfer.
India’s words will be heard in international forums like UN,WTO etc.. India could become a full member of G8..With western countries tying up with India, India’s growth will be more faster and more powerful. Will make pak rethink its policies..
Indian military is in need to diversify its sourcing of military hardware. Russia has been a very reliable source for the past 40 years. This source has to be diversified. Ultimately all military hardware will have to be produced in India. But development time in India is too long and success factor is low. This has to be speeded up. The only way at India?s disposal is buy its immediate needs and import technology to develop its own weapon system. It is a bit expensive up front but pays dividend later as India joins the select group of countries as a source of military hardware.
Opportunity of the KPO (Knowledge Process Off-shoring) is knocking at India?s door. Indian graduates of Science and Engineering will play a major role in this expansion. In about 5 years KPO Off-shoring will grow immensely. India stands to benefit most from it. Thanks to the edge, Indian science & technology graduates have established….
So.. should we think of scrapping the deal completely.. or should we work in parallel,play diplomatic games,get what we need,make adjustments a bit at the same time work on to be self sufficient…something for all of us to think about…