Straight Angle™: Nuclear Deal
Monday, July 07, 2008

Nuclear Deal 

Most readers of this blog would know by this time the fate of the Nuclear Deal. It is more likely to go through the Indian Polity. However, a very good of friend mine, Mouly, has some takes on it. Though he had been against the Nuclear Deal from Day One and me for it from Day One, We have had pretty interesting conversations/arguments on the merits and the fate of the deal all these days. We even felt good/bad respectively when the Communists took up the Nuclear Deal more than Inflation and other burning issues with the Government. But, seems like our feelings were short lived- But that's for another day.

Coming to the post, Mouly makes some points on why the Deal would be "disastrous day" for India in his words. I would like to counter those points, though the wise man that he is, he had already put on the counters for some of those pointers.

Nuclear test: Contrary to what has been officially projected, The deal implicitly takes away India's right to conduct further nuclear test.
Counter: India has already declared a unilateral moratorium on further testing, with Vajpayee announcing that all the tests to validate the design and yield have been completed after the May 11, 2001 tests. So, the inability of testing comes mostly from we ourselves breaking the moratorium than any treaty.

Uninterrupted fuel supply: There is no concrete assurance on the uninterrupted and perpetual fuel supply even though India has committed to perpetual IAEA/US safeguards and inspection regime which cannot be revoked or suspended for any reason at any time after the agreement comes into effect.......
Counter: Right now, we don't let any agency to inspect our nuclear facilities and also we don't have any demarcation on whether a facility is a civilian or a military facility and the inspection is only for Civilian sites - not for Military sites- it is not as if we are throwing away everything to an external agency- we are opening up only those facilities that would receive foreign fuel. As a vendor, I think anyone would be interested in how their product is being used. If non-proliferation concerns can be added to it, better to everyone. Also, the above concern assumes that India's stature would remain the same as it is in the NSG for eternity- We would not remain the same way we are right now. Things will change for sure.

Inspection regime: As part of the deal, India is obligated to segregate and open up its civilian nuclear facilities for inspection of IAEA and the US.
The inspection is only by the IAEA and not by the US in case the deal is terminated. All in all, I would definitely welcome the agreement. I don't see a point of being secluded from the World Community on Nuclear issues. With Oil becoming dearer by the day and Coal being the worst polluter, Nuclear Energy is a much cleaner option.

I would say, with the Left withdrawing support, this would be the best thing to have happened to India in the past 4 years. But, the timing of the left withdrawal did bring a smile to my face. They waited till SP came out open in support of the deal and the recent pronouncements of the UPA constituents don't surprise me a bit- already there are talks about how grateful UPA is to have had the left support them for 4 years and kept the communal forces out of power and how UPA wouldn't want the left to leave the coalition and would welcome the left if they chose to come back. Seems like a carefully orchestrated drama forced on the People of India!

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Blogger Mouly said...

Thanks Krish for taking up the issue and opening up for a wider discussion;

On the issue of Nuclear test -- Yes, India is in a voluntary moratorium on Nuclear test. But there is a difference between voluntary and enforced. Voluntary would mean we have the right to make a test if required. Remember we are still in a first generation Nuke technology whereas China is in 2nd and rest of the NSG countries are in 3rd. Testing is an important way for further R&D which will enable ourselves to move forward. When it is enforced, you would know what that would mean.

Inspection & uninterrupted supply- If you read the 123 agreement in conjunction with the Hyde act, you wouldnt have stated that the inspection is only of IAEA and not of US. Ok, granted that the vendor does have a right to know its usage and disposal. Fair enough. Then why is there a IAEA?? Also why was this clause NOT included in other 123 agreements with other countries. US has similar 123 agreements with China, Japan and other countries but nowhere you have this clause of bilateral inspection which has been reserved only for India??
Again coming to Inspection regime, there is no denying that Indian civilian reactors ought to embrace International safeguards and inspection for our own good and for the good of everybody but that doesnt mean that you enter into a stupid agreement with such glaring legal loopholes. No one is denying the need of Nuclear fuel (though it is costly and not going to last for more than 60yrs), but that doesnt mean that you need to enslave yourself to another country. No country would enter into a perpetual safeguards regime without written assurance on perpetual fuel supply. Remember our major giveaway in this deal is the perpetual safeguards regime which mean we cannot get away from the safeguards regime even if we wanted to. With such a major giveaway I would have expected atleast a linkage with commitment on perpetual fuel supply. Otherwise its better to sign the NPT because that gives us a better deal than this. With the current agreement, I would prefer India to abandon the self hypocrisy (in not signing the NPT) and go ahead and sign the NPT. The NPT regime gives much better deal. Because whatever you are giving away because of this deal, you would be better off in the NPT club!!

7/08/2008 9:45 PM  
Anonymous Aarushi said...

Mouli why you bother, we cannot create an Atom Bomb and even if created we will never be able to drop it anywhere, we are not atble to control our own naxalites, so how the ending of nuclear tests will affect us. Even having atom bombs USA didnt use it to curb Taliban they could have dropped it in Afghanistan , but they didnt and none will ever do.

IEAA or USA anybody who want to inspect our Nuclear capabilities have resource to do that, do u think CIA is not aware of our developments. Even our people may leak it for money, so all these things are myth.

Lets get some more energy for future of our cuountry coal and hydro electric is not going to last forever.

7/09/2008 2:49 AM  
Blogger Mouly said...

@Aarushi, I can treat your comments as more cynical than anything else when you say that we cannot create Nuke bomb or control the nax..That's the state of Indian public (and that's the reason the Government is able to get away with anything).

Take a serious look at it. India is already nuclear and whatever modicum of deterrence India has against China and Pak is because of this. Remember India has China and Pak as its neighbour. The only reason why China will ever think twice before attacking is because of India's Nuke otherwise ..(you know what happened in '65).

US was not able to use Nuke against Afghan or Taliban. This is a joke, they wont use it simply because Taliban can be overrun by even a conventional army within days, you dont use a bomb to crush an ant, would you?

We all know the capabilities of CIA. They are the one who were sleeping when India tested out in 1998 at Pokhran!! So much for their intelligence. Even if they are aware of it, let it remain that way right, why bother to write away your right to inspect to another country? particularly when you have an dedicated Agency (IAEA) for it??

Lets get some energy, but you dont have a write adimai saasanam to get it, right?. A little thought, a little legal scrutiny of the agreement would save a lot of shame and embarrassment in the future. Use little bit of leverage you have. Always remember that the US is pushing for this (because it has its own economical and strategic benefits); so why not leverage your advantage and put some safety net in the agreement?

Side note: Coal/Hydro is not going to last forever??? Do you think Nuke is going to last forever?? Remember the fuel we are getting from this agreement is enriched uranium. As per the current statistic, the world uranium resource cannot last for more than 85 years!! And if you take the Hydel capacity we have in the North east and Arunachal pradesh (why do you think China is more interested in annexing Arunachal??), that alone will last for centuries!! According to the Government itself, the northeast Hydel capacity is untapped upto 60%!!..

So dont get fooled by some amateurish arguments. Read thru/Google it for more information. Take an informed decision.

7/09/2008 8:54 AM  
Blogger Mouly said...

And just to add one more point to this discussion - Remember that this deal was proposed by the US to India and not the other way around. India didnt enter into a discussion with US on this kind of a deal. It was the US which came up with this idea of special exemption to India (to counter India's Iran gas pipeline deal); So at the outset India has a leverage in this. Even now you can see that the current US administration is so desperate to get the deal signed because it knows its value (& also politically for Bush to leave behind a legacy). If you note, not a single day passed by in the last one year without someone saying that 'Time is running out for the deal'. Have you ever seen such a sales pitch that too coming from the US?? T Nagar usman road discount sale mathiri aagi pochu intha nuclear deal!! why so?? Actually speaking it should be the other way around right? It should be India that should clammer for this deal??

7/09/2008 2:02 PM  
Blogger Krish said...

Mouly: You do have valid points there. I dont agree to the 1st, 2nd Gen Theory. If that is the case, we would still be laying copper cables for telephones. When we tested, we prolly would have tested a state of art design is what I would assume- I am not an expert to argue on this matter- but then that is what I think. So, I am not sure, if we would be loosing out on being upto date on a weapon technology- always remember, Nuclear Sophistication doesnt really matter- it doesnt really matter if your bomb can kill 10 Mn or 1 Mn, so long as it can kill, which I am sure Indian Bombs can- not that I want them to..but, they still can.

While I definitely agree, we could have leveraged a better deal, we also have to contend with the fact that, the leverage is only to a certain extent and I am not sure if the Congress- Left Government has the balls to use that leverage. To sign NPT now would be disastrous- remember, signing NPT wouldn't recognize you as a nuclear power and NPT's terms for an unrecognized nuclear power are far worser than the recognized powers. I would no matter what, go to NPT. I also see no reason to get out of the inspection regime for the civilian reactors and we get to decide what are civilian and what are military. Civilian nuclear reactors were subject to the donor country's inspection for long.

Arushi: I would not think you are being serious there about using Nukes in Afghanistan and Iraq. The purpose of those wars were not annihilation and they were not such a great power to use them- if that is the case, cold war itself wouldnt be there. The purpose of a nuclear weapon is more of a deterrent than of a winner- there are no winners in a nuclear war- i would definitely take your other point that we should not be overtly concerned about losing the right to test- that was forgone by us long back.

Mouly: I would take exception on your assertion that since Uranium is going to last only for 85 years, we dont want to have nuclear power. We are restricting ourselves to only Uranium?? I dont expect this state to continue. With commercial exploitation of the power, we might see much more development.

7/09/2008 7:18 PM  
Blogger Mouly said...

As regards the NPT; there is no difference to what you are doing now than what you would get when you sign NPT. Signing NPT wouldnt recognise India as a Nuke country. For that matter, Signing 123 deal also wouldnt recognise you as a Nuke country. You may well read this particular quote from the US Department of state website explaining the critics about the deal:
CRITICS: Doesn't this initiative effectively recognize India as a nuclear weapons state?

COUNTERPOINT: No, the United States has not recognized India as a nuclear weapons state. The 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) defines a nuclear weapons state as "one which has manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to January 1, 1967." (The United States, UK, France, Russia, and China exploded nuclear devices prior to that date.) India does not meet this definition, and we do not seek to amend the Treaty.

As regards Uranium resources, you can take a look at this article /publication from IAEA -

I didnt say that since Uranium is in limited supply, we would not go Nuclear. We have to ultimately go back to our Thorium deposits (India and Australia hold the largest thorium deposits in the World). So Uranium is not an end in itself. Its a finite resource and so why subject yourself to an infinite agreement??Have a clause of particular tenure to the agreement with a clause for renegotiating new agreements after its expiry (which is what all other 123 agreements have!!).

7/10/2008 1:13 AM  
Blogger Manoj said...

Just run a search in google for "nuclear wastes" and you'll know why nuclear energy is the bigger devil. Hydro-electricity, windmills, solar energy, hydrogen ... things like these are solutions. These might be expensive, but they are effective long term solutions. But Nuclear energy is just another trap for the greedy humans to fall into. It's inhuman the way how the wastes are disposed. The day will come, when we'll find the water in our borewell is radioactive.

7/11/2008 7:54 AM  
Blogger Mouly said...

@Krish, I Just want to touch upon this particular statement in your initial response - "With Oil becoming dearer by the day and Coal being the worst polluter, Nuclear Energy is a much cleaner option."

There is no linkage between Oil and Nuclear energy. Either of them is not going to replace the other or at least supplement the other. Nuclear power is for electricity generation; Crude Oil is no way being used for power generation. So deal or no deal, nuclear power or no nuclear power, you will continue to depend on crude imports and burgeoning import bill. Nuclear fuel/reactor import will only add to the dependency factor of India. Now you will be depended on Gulf for crude and the NSG for Nuke.

7/11/2008 9:34 AM  
Blogger Krish said...

@Manoj: I agree these might be solutions- but long term?? I am not sure...remember, in a country that is heavily dependent on monsoon for water, Hydro electricity is not a great dependable option. Wind energy is concentrated on a few places and the grid that is required to bring that power to the places of demand might not justify the amount of electricity that is produced. We are not talking about producing electricity- we are talking about producing massive amount of them. We are keep writing eulogies about the options- but had they been any significant, we would have had them a loooot earlier. We cannot "hope" for a technological breakthrough while sacrificing growth!!

@Mouly: I see it as just energy- whether Oil or Coal or Gas or Hydel- Oil is being used for transportation[majorly], so when there are electric vehicles, nuclear is an option that will replace oil. Ofcourse there are things that Oil produces which Nuclear power cannot replace- like polymers and oil derivatives..but for others, nuclear power or for that matter any power can offer an alternative!!

7/16/2008 7:29 PM  
Blogger Pessimist Fool said...

brilliant debate...hardly seen such debates on blogs

7/22/2008 1:39 AM  
Blogger Mouly said...


we should be somewhat realistic in our dreams!! shouldnt we? Electric and hybrid cars on the roads in India and we prepare for the power requirement via this nuclear deal now??? crazy!! First we should dream to have a road in the first place then think about Transportation and then........

7/23/2008 12:30 AM  
Blogger Mouly said...

Oops! I missed the point on Wind energy and its distribution problem?? who said that????? do you know how much wind energy is being generated in South India, particularly in TN? ofcourse its not THE solution which is going to bring power to everyone but definitely a workable and viable and working option. As regards other sources, there are plenty of Hydel resources in the North east?? the Govt has officially termed under-utilisation of Hydel capacity in Arunachal pradesh and other NE states to the extent of 60%. Why are those not being exploited?? fear of China?? or usual ineptitude of the Govt?? if the Govt is so worried about energy security they would have long utilised and gone with it?? first of all they would have stopped the 30% distribution loss thats happening in Electricity distribution due to theft and poor technology and bureaucracy!! Why these loopholes werent plugged before plunging headlong onto this agreement??
We need not sacrifice technological breakthrough (and mind that you will not be provided with technology via this agreement; you will only get fuel and reactors) for the sake of growth but we cannot afford to sacrifice our national security for the sake of growth!!

7/23/2008 12:39 AM  

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