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.