Tag Archives: India nuclear energy

The Process of Legitimation of a Nuclear Power

Soldier wears mask to protect against chemical weapons. Image from wikipedia

India on January 19, 2017 joined the Australia Group which aims to stop the development and acquisition of chemical and biological weapons, a move that may take the country an inch closer to joining the Nuclear Suppliers’ group (NSG).  This is the third multilateral export control group – after the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and Wassenaar Arrangement – that India has become a member of.  The Ministry of External Affairs said that the series of multilateral export control groups that India has joined “helps in establishing our credentials” for joining the NSG. India joined the MTCR in June 2016, followed by the Wassenaar Arrangement in December 2017…

India’s application to the NSG has been pending largely due to opposition from China, which wants the group to first draw up guidelines for all the candidates who have not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Pakistan has also applied to join the NSG, but has never been granted a waiver from the NSG’s export rules, unlike India, which was given one in 2008.

Excerpts from India Enters Australia Group, Inches Closer to Joining Nuclear Suppliers Group, https://thewire.in/,  Jan. 19, 2018

Entering the Nuclear Elite: India and the NSG

Countries supporting India's membership in the NSG

Six years after they began negotiating, India and Japan finally signed on November 2016 a landmark nuclear agreement opening the doors for India to commission nuclear reactors by global entities and possibly boosting India’s claim for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).  The deal is significant in view of the reservations of Japan, the only country to have been attacked by nuclear weapons, and for India’s efforts to diversify the sources of equipment and technology it will need to boost nuclear power generation.

The completion of the nuclear deal comes as the NSG is meeting in Vienna to discuss, among other issues, if non-NPT (nuclear non-proliferation Treaty) countries like India can enter this exclusive grouping. ..

[T]he Japan nuclear deal had a number of similarities with the US deal.  However, while the US deal was done in four stages, the Japan pact compressed all four stages – a 123 agreement, reprocessing, administrative arrangements and NSG – into one. In addition, Jaishankar said, Japan’s own concerns meant that nuclear safety and security received bigger space in this deal.
Japan, like the US, has built in a clause that it would cease cooperation if India conducted nuclear tests… India had taken on certain non-proliferation commitments in September 2008 while applying for the NSG waiver. India stood by these, and these have been the basis for its application to membership of the NSG….
Although India signed a nuclear deal with the US, it needed a similar deal with Japan to actually realise the deal. India commissioned six EPR reactors from Areva and another four from Toshiba-Westinghouse. Both companies use Japanese components which would not be forthcoming in the absence of a nuclear deal with Japan. In particular, Japan Steel Works is the global leader for manufacture of the reactor vessel, which is a core component.

Excerpts from India, Japan sign landmark civil nuclear deal, Times of India, Nov. 12, 2016

Exclusive Membership: India in the Nuclear Suppliers Group

Akash missile fiired from Chandipur Orissa India

President Barack Obama, on June 2016, came out in support of Indian membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which led other nations including Mexico and Switzerland to suggest they, too, were on board. Diplomats in Vienna suggested on June 9, 2016 that India is closer than ever to joining the NSG, despite never fulfilling the requirement of signing a global treaty aimed at preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons…

India has already managed to secure access to nuclear fuel and technology to build power plants it says it needs to boost energy capacity and drive economic growth for the nation of 1.25 billion people.  Analysts say joining the NSG is chiefly a matter of pride and desire to be taken seriously by some of the world’s most powerful nations. Since prompting international technology sanctions and limits on exports by conducting nuclear tests in 1998, India has been eager to gain legitimacy as a nuclear power…

India already has deals with more than eight countries for supplies of uranium, and has signed agreements for reactors with France, Russia and the United States.

India scored a major victory in 2008, under Modi’s predecessor, by securing a waiver from United States allowing it access to nuclear technology and fuel despite its refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But progress in deals to build new nuclear plants since then has stalled.

For months, Indian officials have crisscrossed the globe to gather support for New Delhi’s entry into the NSG, the 48-member group that controls access to technology used in making atomic weapons.

This week, Obama hailed India’s membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime, a group that restricts the export of missiles and their delivery systems….India continues to refuse to sign the nonproliferation treaty, arguing that it is discriminatory since it defines nuclear weapon states as those that tested nuclear devices before January 1967 — which would disqualify India from ever becoming a member.

Nevertheless, Obama called on governments participating in the NSG to support India’s application to the group when it meets in June 2016 in Seoul, South Korea….India’s admission to the nuclear club is further complicated because Pakistan, its archrival, also wants to join. Indian analysts said China may be persuaded to ease its position against India’s membership in NSG  if it is offered something in exchange, for example, being allowed to join the Missile Technology Control Regime. China’ s 2004 application for membership was denied on suspicion that some Chinese companies were secretly supplying missile technology to North Korea.

“It is possible China may now seek some kind of bargain, whereby it is given entry to the MTCR in return for letting India get into the NSG,” Praveen Swami said in the Indian Express newspaper.

Excerpts from India’s Bid to Join Nuclear Supplier Group a Point of Pride, Associate Press, June 10, 2016

The Japan-India Nuclear Deal, 2015

Smiling Buddha (Pokhran-I) was the assigned code name of India's first successful nuclear bomb test on 18 May 1974. image from wikipedia

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s agreement in principle to supply nuclear power technology to India may run counter to Japan’s stated commitment against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.  The deal was reached on Dec. 12, 2015 during a meeting between Abe, who is visiting New Delhi, and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi.  If an actual nuclear power agreement is signed, it would mark the first for Japan with a nation that has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.  The latest move by Japan was met swiftly with criticism in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Japan and India began negotiating a nuclear power agreement in 2010 when the Democratic Party of Japan was still in power. Japan had wanted a provision in any such deal that would allow it to immediately stop any nuclear power cooperation should India resume testing of nuclear weapons, which has been on hold since 1998.  Although a joint declaration and a memorandum regarding a nuclear power agreement were released on Dec. 12, 2015 no provisions were included regarding a suspension of cooperation should India resume nuclear testing.  In the joint declaration, the two leaders confirmed that a nuclear power agreement would be signed after completion of the technological details through further negotiations between the two nations.

Excerpt from Japan’s nuclear power deal in principle with India a first with an NPT non-signer,  ASAHI SHIMBUN, Dec. 13, 2015

 

The Drones and Nuclear Weapons of India 2014

India Mysore, image from

Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) suggests that India appeared to have followed through on its publicly announced intention to build the  Special Material Enrichment Facility (SMEF) and started constructing a large enrichment centrifuge complex near Chitradurga, Karnataka.  Furthermore, [o]n June 20, 2014 IHS Jane’s revealed that India was possibly extending Mysore’s Indian Rare Metals Plant into clandestine production of uranium hexafluoride that could theoretically be channelled towards the manufacture of hydrogen bombs.

This week the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) suggested that the country appeared to have followed through on its publicly announced intention to build the SMEF and started constructing a large enrichment centrifuge complex near Chitradurga, Karnataka, where, between 2009 and 2010, approximately 10,000 acres of land were allegedly diverted for various defence purposes.

Within this walled-off tract, 1,410 acres in Ullarthi Kaval and 400 acres in Khudapura were allocated to the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre for the purpose of developing the SMEF, the ISIS said, adding that a further 4,000 acres in Varavu Kaval and 290 acres in Khudapura were allocated to the Defence Research and Development Organisation for the purpose of developing and testing “long-endurance (48-72 hours) Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles.”…

The report’s authors, David Albright and Serena Kelleher-Vergantini, said that the new facility “will significantly increase India’s ability to produce enriched uranium for both civil and military purposes, including nuclear weapons”, urging India to therefore announce that the SMEF would be subject to International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, committed only to peaceful uses….At the heart of India’s apparently strong enrichment thrust is an urgent need for Highly Enriched Uranium for the indigenously developed INS Arihant nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine and probably for nuclear and thermonuclear weapons.

Excerpt from NARAYAN LAKSHMAN. Karnataka home to second covert nuke site, drone testing: report,  The  Hindu, July 2, 2014

India as the Exception: the Geopolitics of Nuclear Weapons

NSG-India

The United States, Britain and others have argued that nuclear-armed India should join the secretive 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) – established in 1975 to ensure that civilian atomic trade is not diverted for military purposes.  But other NSG states have voiced doubt about accepting a country that built up a nuclear arsenal outside a 189-nation treaty set up four decades ago to prevent states from acquiring such weapons of mass destruction.

Days ahead of the June 26-27 NSG meeting in Buenos Aires, India said it was ratifying an agreement, a so-called Additional Protocol, with the International Atomic Energy Agency to expand oversight over its civilian nuclear programme.  The United States said this marked another “important step in bringing India into the international non-proliferation mainstream”. But some critics questioned the step’s significance, as it would not affect India’s nuclear weapons programme and sensitive atomic fuel activities.  They said the Indian agreement was a much weaker version of a deal most other IAEA members have, giving the U.N. watchdog wide inspection powers to make sure there are no covert nuclear activities in a country.  “India’s version of the Additional Protocol is a paper tiger,” said Daryl Kimball of the U.S.-based Arms Control Association, a research and advocacy group….

The diplomatic tussle centres on whether the emerging power should be allowed into a key forum deciding rules for civilian nuclear trade, even though it never joined the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), under which it would have to give up its nuclear weapons…

India – Asia’s third-largest economy – would need the support of all NSG states to join the cartel that has a pivotal role in countering nuclear threats and proliferation.  If India eventually were to become a member, it would boost its standing as an atomic power. It would be the only member of the suppliers group that has not signed up to the NPT.

Supporters say it is better if the country is inside than outside the NSG as it is already an advanced nuclear energy power and will in future become a significant exporter as well.  Those who are sceptical argue it could erode the credibility of the NPT, which is a cornerstone of global nuclear disarmament efforts.

Diplomats have said that China and some others have been doubtful. Beijing’s reservations are believed to be influenced by its ties to its ally Pakistan, India’s rival, which has also tested atomic bombs and is also outside the NPT, analysts say.

Excerpts,Nuclear Suppliers Group to discuss ties with India,Reuters, Jun 24, 2014

Can NGOs be Foreign Agents? India Investigates Protests against its Nuclear Plant

The government intensified its drive against NGOs it suspects of being hostile to national interests, with the home ministry zeroing in on 77 organizations whose activities will be scrutinized following a crackdown on four NGOs for allegedly fanning protests against the Kudankulam nuclear plant.

A meeting chaired by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday was told by home ministry officials that the NGOs, mostly from the US and Europe, needed careful monitoring to check whether they were violating rules that guide funding and mandate their actions. The NGOs will be placed on a watch list with the external affairs ministry asked to ensure visa applications of their members are scanned….Most of the NGOs on the “watch list” receive funding from US and European countries…..However, Congress on Thursday supported the government’s moves with party spokesperson Manish Tewari saying that India’s attempts since the 1980s to achieve energy security was regularly thwarted by international interests. “This should be kept in mind by agencies probing the cases,” he said….People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) convener S P Udaykumar has denied any links to foreign funds and has said he is associated with Swedish NGO Idea only in a research capacity. PMANE has served a defamation notice to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for blaming foreign NGOs for being insensitive to India’s energy needs.  Government sources insist the agitators are fundamentally opposed to nuclear energy and argue that while China races to increase its power capacity, India’s attempts to cover a growing deficit are being stalled. The PM’s remarks were followed by bank accounts of four NGOs being frozen. CBI and Tamil Nadu police have filed cases.

The tough talking against NGOs could also escalate into a diplomatic row with the government adamant on acting against those it believes are responsible for funding domestic NGOs involved in political or semi-political protests or activities.Local protests organized at Kudankulam have derailed the commissioning of the first 1000 mw unit of the 4780 mw nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu. The Rs 14,500 crore nuclear project has been built with Russian collaboration. Two units are nearly complete but as of now the bare minimum staff needed to ensure the plant systems are in working order is able to access the site…..PMANE has denied allegations that it is being funded by American NGOs to organise the protest.

Excerpts, Government intensifies drive against NGOs, to scrutinize workings of 77 more organizations, The Economic Times of India, Mar. 2, 2012