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Today, you will read Current Affair Topic:
Impact of Civil Nuclear Deal on India
Civil nuclear deal between India and the United States is a reality; India is now the only country in the world which can engage in trade of nuclear materials with the rest of the world despite being a non-signatory of nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Formally known as Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the NPT was signed in 1968, came into force in 1970 and its major objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and nuclear technology while promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Apart from India, three other countries which have not signed NPT are Israel, Pakistan and South Sudan while North Korea had announced its withdrawal from the deal in 2003. When all these countries have been denied such cooperation in international trade of nuclear materials, the deal has become an eyesore for them particularly Pakistan. With this aspect of the deal, it is must be noted that along with advantages, some challenges too are bound to arise with the nuclear deal.
- India is an energy starved country and any move which strengthens the country’s energy security is always a welcome step.
- Not merely energy generation but a clean energy is important requisite to ensure that our fellow countrymen get the fruits of development in a clean environment. Nuclear fuel is considered as a clean fuel.
- Civil use of nuclear energy is not just about generating electricity but it has several other uses as well. For instance, India is in the select club of countries which have submarine driven by nuclear energy. INS Arihant is the nuclear submarine of India. With some modifications, similar technology can be used for building engines for public transport like railway engines in future. But this would be hard to achieve without the international cooperation where countries can share their expertise and experience.
- Apart from energy security, other advantages of the deal are in diplomatic terms. For instance, an important effect of the deal is global acceptance of India as a nuclear nation which has impeccable track record against proliferation.
- The US and the UK have supported India’s entry into the exclusive 48 member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). NSG controls almost all international nuclear trade. Its membership enables countries to freely use technology and nuclear material from other nations. However, China has opposed the extension of NSG member to India calling the latter to first accept NPT.
- With China getting closer to our estranged neighbour Pakistan and building two nuclear reactors there, India’s closeness with the US, which is still the strongest super power in the world, is crucial for regional balance. The nuclear deal has just endorsed cementing of relationship between India and the US much to the agony of our neighbours
Challenges and Risks
- The cost of nuclear power is substantially high in comparison to other conventional and renewable sources of energy. Even after the commissioning of all nuclear reactors that too at huge cost, it is highly unlikely that share of nuclear energy could reach 10 % even in next 25 years.
- Now the foreign suppliers would not have to bear the cost of liability in case of a nuclear accident. India has agreed to underwrite the cost of insurance to the tune of some INR15 billion. After the Fukushima disaster in the tsunami of March 2011, Japan government has spent more than USD 25 billion and is still counting.
- Even if there is no accident, the cost of decommissioning of obsolete nuclear plants and nuclear waste clean-up is extremely high. The Hanford nuclear complex in the US which was shutdown in 1989 has so far experienced cost of USD40 billion and some estimates suggest that it may cost another USD 115 billion more.
- Apart from huge cost in case of accident or decommissioning of obsolete plants, there are diplomatic challenges as well. For instance, post the signing of deal, China and Pakistan has come too close to the comfort of Indian security establishment. China is even building two nuclear reactors in Pakistan while the past track record of Pakistan suggests that possibility of terrorists reaching their nuclear arsenal could not be ruled out.
- Also, analysts believe that China may lobby for the seat for Islamabad in the NSG if the US pushes for Indian membership.
After analysing the implication of the Indo-US nuclear deal, it is quite clear that it is not going to change the fortunes of India. Energy generation in the country may improve but with same amount of money, much more clean energy can be generated by virtue of renewable sources. However, if we talk about diplomatic implications, deal has indeed made the nuclear isolation of India a thing of past and the unique exemption granted to the country has definitely
improved India’s geopolitical status in the world.