Nuclear Deal tests D.I. +Ve

On 18 July 2005 PM Singh & President Bush signed the joint declaration of Indo-US partnership. It started a chain of events that lead to the passing of Hyde Act by both the houses of US congress and followed by the signing 123 agreement between India & US. While the US law makers have had the privilege of discussing the nuclear cooperation with India, and will get another opportunity to mull over it when India completes safeguards’ arrangements with IAEA & NSG, Indian parliament has been denied this inalienable right. Ever since the 123 agreement became public, the supporters and opponents have dug in with well entrenched positions on either side in both the countries. The Indian defendants in early stages crowed that India can now join the nuclear high table as a ‘Nuclear Weapon’s state’ while simultaneously reaping the benefits of joining the peaceful nuclear commerce. Essentially it meant that without signing the NPT and while retaining the right to further nuclear weaponization, India could now source much needed uranium, which is in short supply domestically, & access cutting edge technology, equipment and components – including all dual use items. However, on careful scrutiny of the agreement the critics found many holes in this façade and it became untenable to continue the pretension that all is well.

Off late the defense of the deal is based on its ability to ensure India’s energy security and thereby to secure the 9% growth story. Sample these pronouncements,

PM speaking at public function on 20 August.

“……said no government can afford to shirk the responsibility of pursuing a “sound” energy security strategy in which nuclear fuel plays an important role. …nuclear energy will play an important role in addressing India’s energy security needs and urged all political parties to appreciate the vital national interest of pursuing such a strategy”.

PM at Rajiv Gandhi Urja Bhavan foundation laying on 21st October

“I urge all political parties to appreciate the vital national interest of pursuing a sound energy security strategy. India is on the move and we must be able to address our growing energy demand”….. “From a long-term perspective, nuclear energy and solar energy can play an important role in addressing our energy security needs. Our government is committed to the development of nuclear energy,”

PM to Defense Top Brass on 25th October.

“That energy security holds the key to the future and this was why his government wanted to go ahead with the next step of negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)”.

Manmohan Singh talks to Der Spiegel on 30th October.

“Singh: I take your point, but I am still of the opinion that we will reach a consensus soon. The Indian-US nuclear deal will considerably improve and consolidate India’s energy supply. And what is good for India is good for the world”.

Any unwary observer would naturally think that Nuclear energy is going to play a pivotal role in overall energy availability in India. Planning commission had mandated an expert committee to prepare ‘Integrated Energy Policy(IEP)’. Mr. Anil kakodkar, Chief – Atomic Energy Commission, was a member too. On 31st October it was reported,

“Kakodkar said the components of the nuclear power target of over 20,000 MW by 2020, which was chalked out in the mid-1990s, consisted of 10,000 MW from pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWR), 2,500 MW from fast breeder reactors (FBR) and 8,000 MW from light water reactors (LWR). He further added that the additional 6,000 MW from LWRs had been envisaged, even at that time, on the basis of a planned civilian nuclear deal. If the deal opens up, this will be realized, and maybe even more power will be generated. Otherwise, a 6,000 MW shortfall will be created.”

Following IEP table captures the same reality,

Possible Development of Nuclear Power Installed Capacity in MW

Year

Unit

Scenario

Remarks

Optimistic*

Pessimistic

2010

GWe

11

9

These estimates assume that the FBR technology is successfully demonstrated by the 500 MW PFBR currently under construction, new Uranium mines are opened for providing fuel for setting up additional PHWRs, India succeeds in assimilating the LWR technology through import and develops the Advanced Heavy Water Reactor for utilising Thorium by 2020.

2020

GWe

29

21

2030

GWe

63

48

2040

GWe

131

104

2050

GWe

275

208

* It is assumed that India will be able to import 8,000 MW of Light Water Reactors with fuel over the next ten years.

IEP has projected 11 different scenarios for the year 2031-32 based on various possibilities to arrive at energy availability through different sources, both in absolute terms & percentage share. See graphical presentation below,

Following table gives the data on which the above graphic is based.

IEC seems to have chosen scenario 5 as one of the most likely outcomes and has further given it a more detailed 5 yearly treatment. The share of nuclear energy in the year 2031-32 is mere 5.3% in total projected energy availability from all sources.

Through extrapolation of available data it can be easily deduced that the share of nuclear energy in the year 2021 is just about 4% in the total projected energy availability from all sources. Following from Kakodkar’s statement, India would loose out about 6000 MW out of a total of 24000 MW nuclear power, Installed+to be installed, or say 25%. This would bring down the share of nuclear power to 3%, or a loss of 1%. Is this really catastrophic? Significant to note here, that this wisdom has not dawned in hindsight. The Indian negotiators of 123 agreement had the benefit of planning commission document for almost 1 year. Have they not then given away too much while gaining too little in the bargain? The IEP has been prepared by the planning commission. It is a strategic vision document of the Government of India (GOI) on energy security and growth. The 123 agreement does not seem to contribute meaningfully even to energy security if IEP document is to be believed. Then no advantage is left in pursuing nuclear deal as it stands. Obviously, India should choose energy mix including nuclear energy that is to its advantage. But it should do so in ways that are clearly & demonstrably to its overall benefit.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohammad ElBaradei on Friday said,

that this would not only benefit India as it would give it access to fuel and technology, but getting India into the nuclear “mainstream” was important for the global efforts towards eliminating all nuclear weapons.

India has an impeccable record in not proliferating nuclear weapons or for that matter even peaceful nuclear technology. Yet, even ElBaradei, by his own admission a neutral figure, harps on the same issue. Doesn’t it give away the real intention behind why US is so keen on this agreement while proponents on all side endeavour to lead everyone to believe otherwise? If eliminating all nuclear weapons is the real objective, then US, Russia, China, Israel, France & Britain need to stand tall and be counted first among the eliminators of nuclear weapons in an internationally verifiable fashion. Like in the case of all talk on climate change, the worst offenders must seek redemption first. It is then, only then, sanity will assume charge in place of finger pointing, and the ‘Terror of War’ – the doctrine of unilateral, presumptive & preventive strikes – may demise.

Retired Chief Justice Yashwant Chandrachud once during a public talk admitted that possibly the burden of evidence was not sufficient to commit Kehar Singh, one of the alleged conspirators in the Indira Gandhi assassination case, to gallows. Kehar Singh was sent to gallows by the very bench headed by Justice Chandrachud. There is a real danger of committing India to a present & future that may not be even to our liking in retrospect unless the nuclear agreement is thoroughly examined and debated transparently from all angles & in all forums before we take another step.

Note : (D.I. = Disinformation).

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3 Responses to “Nuclear Deal tests D.I. +Ve”

  1. Makarand Bapat Says:

    HI SADANAND,

    Thanks for inviting me over to Shelfari.Because of v. poor knowledge of computers,

    i am unable to post two books on the shelf, which i have read recently.

    They are written by George Mikes, a Hungarian, settled in the U.K.

    A keen observer of human follies, he has written about British snobbery.

    I would love to pass them on to you as they are pretty old, & I wonder whether they

    are available now. Moreover, I will get a chance to meet you!

    I am regularly reading your articles

    1) About mistakes in Newspapers, as rightly pointed out, will never be acknowledged.

    Thanks to the ignorance of the so called educated public, whatever is printed is GOSPEL TRUTH

    and is taken at its face value.

    2) About 123 Agreement, it is quite confusing. One does not know whether it good or bad.

    Some time back i read an article by Mr. Aiyangar, Ex Chairman of the A.E.C. who opined that

    it is not favourable as it may jeopardise the rights of testing the weapons of our country.

    For all purposes, it appears that it is shelved or buried!

    So, we will meet when you are free, & till then keep us posted with your informed articles

    MAKARAND

  2. Sadanand Says:

    Hi Makrand,

    I would love to have those books from you.

    Iyengar wrote in The Week ( Malyalam Manorama) of 4th November on the technical aspects of Nuclear Deal w.r.t Pressurized heavy water reactors.(PHWR), Fast Breeder Reactors(FBR), Light water Reactors(LWR) and their relative merits in the Indian context. The burden of his arguments essentially was :
    1. India has made lot of progress on FBR and we should intensify such efforts to exploit that technology soonest. It allows use of Thorium, which is available in India plenty. Americans have no experience in this, but Canadians have and they have expressed interest to collaborate.
    2. US expertise essentially lies in LWR, but they have not built any in last 25 years. They would be very expensive than Indian made PHWR and FBR.
    3. Reprocessing of spent fuel requires building a brand new facility under safeguard. This would take more than 10 years and it is not clear what we can and cannot do with plutonium generated.

    I have covered other aspects of the 123, but I had zero competence in technical matters and it appears even there it is a dud deal.

    Lastly, even on energy security front it has hardly anything to offer except lot of 'hot air'. I have covered this in 'Nuclear Deal tests D.I. positive'.

    Cheers / sadanand.

  3. India BroadBand Says:

    The blogger has another post on the issue of nuclear energy.

    ….The Indian defendants in early stages crowed that India can now join the nuclear high table as a ‘Nuclear Weapon’s state’ while simultaneously reaping the benefits of joining the peaceful nuclear commerce. Essentially it meant that without signing the NPT and while retaining the right to further nuclear weaponization, India could now source much needed uranium, which is in short supply domestically, & access cutting edge technology, equipment and components – including all dual use items. However, on careful scrutiny of the agreement the critics found many holes in this façade and it became untenable to continue the pretension that all is well.

    Off late the defense of the deal is based on its ability to ensure India’s energy security and thereby to secure the 9% growth story….
    Nuclear Deal tests D.I. +Ve.

    The deal will help India coz it will be the only country in the world to have secured such an exemption. Swaminathan Aiyer wrote a column on this very issue just as the Hyde Act was being moved through the US congress and senate.
    Nuke deal: How to clear roadblocks-Swaminomics-Swaminathan A Aiyar-Columnists-Opinion-The Times of India

    A snub is certainly not going to help our case. A country and its political leadership has to show that it can take a decision, stick to it and that when the leadership changes, whatever happens internally, international agreeements are not broken. This is the norm even in the current age of diplomatic amnesia.

    I do not see the US as an enemy. We have too many things in common. And to my knowledge, US has never attacked a democratic country. So, all the issues raised – that independent foreign policy will be affected, US can turn off fissile material supply etc. are bogeys at best. US has stood by Israel no matter what the consequences over the last 50 years. An Indo-US relationship too will stand the test of time only if people take the effort to set it up in the first place. How can you talk of a divorce before the marriage?

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