Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Nuclear testing practically guaranteed

An editorial yesterday (Economic Times Jun 10 08) urges the Indian government to “go for the nuke deal.” As Indian elections are due in about a year, “the nuclear deal is well worth sacrificing the government for,” the Economic Times argues.

“There is no harm in the UPA continuing as a minority government for another seven to eight months....After signing the deal the Congress will still have time to politically explain how cheaper and cleaner nuclear energy can light up lakhs [hundreds of thousands] of India’s villages.”

India needs the 2005 accord with the US in order to end a three-decade ban on importing U.S. technology and fuel without ratifying to the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The deal with the US must be endorsed by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group and sent to the US Congress for approval.

Some ways of framing the issue (Bloomberg) argue that the US-India nuclear deal will die if Congress doesn't approve it before the November presidential election in the US.

Canada needs the deal to open up India's markets for Canadian uranium, Canadian enrichment plants, and CANDU reactors. Canada is the largest uranium exporter in the world. Canadian negotiators at the Nuclear Suppliers Group recently persuaded the US to allow international sales of enrichment plants in another dramatic change of American policy.

India used a Canadian research reactor and Canadian and US uranium to develop its first nuclear explosive. India is conveniently regarded as a “responsible non-proliferator” even though Indian companies sold nuclear technology to Saddam Hussein.

American companies have uranium and pressurized water reactors for sale too.
The failure of the accord will derail $14 billion of orders for reactors from suppliers including General Electric Co. and Westinghouse Electric Co. and hamper India's plans to increase nuclear generation almost 10-fold... (Thomas and Johnson Bloomberg Jun 11 08)

More important, the US wants India onside as a geopolitical counterweight to China's rising power in the region. This is the point on which negotiations have bogged down among Indian politicians.

China and Russia started re-building their militaries after Bush abrogated the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (June 13, 2002).

The Australian government recently announced that it would not allow the sale of uranium to India unless India acceded to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Indian PM Manmohan Singh has made it clear that India has no intention to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). That is one of many treaties the US has also refused to sign.

Protecting India's sovereignty and retaining the right to test nuclear weapons in the future was at the heart of the Indian parliament's debate about the meaning of the US Hyde Act. Recommend this Post

Sphere: Related Content