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India-US Nuclear Deal & Implications

The India-US Nuclear agreement lays out a framework for peaceful nuclear cooperation that would allow trade in nuclear reactors, technology and fuel between the two nations. It will open the gates of US to become a “reliable” supplier for India’s energy program and allows India to reprocess nuclear fuel.

Energy security issues

The Congress claims that the deal will address the issue of energy security, which is of paramount importance for a growing economy like ours. Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh said in the Parliament recently, that without this agreement India would be a nuclear "Pariah’. If we aim for electrification in every corner of the country, we need a lot of energy; and without nuclear power we cannot realise this dream.

But is it really true that without America’s support India’s nuclear energy programme will come to a halt. Can India not maintain its nuclear plants by using reprocessed plutonium as a fuel and using its own uranium in the conventional plants? Or else can India not get nuclear power plants from Russia? Since 1974 India has received every nuclear technology, and materials including conventional nuclear power plants, Fast Breeder reactors, reprocessing and enrichment plants and heavy water plants from the Soviet Union and Russia without any restrictions attached to these.

Will the safeguards that Russia now wants to apply, that the plants cannot be used to produce any nuclear weapons come in our way? Will the offshore and onshore nuclear plants that Russia has offered to India without any restrictions be enough for the future development of electricity production? Does India need US support at all?

India’s nuclear weapon programme

The congress has also assured that India will be free to conduct nuclear tests and that its nuclear weapons program will not be compromised.

But is it not that all the civilian nuclear facilities will be put under IAEA safeguards. A regular inspection by the IAEA and the US authority will make sure that these facilities will not be used to produce nuclear weapons. India for the military part of the nuclear sector will not be able to import technology or materials from any of the countries of the NSG, including Russia. Will this not hamper India’s nuclear weapons programme? Congress assures that putting our peaceful reactors under safeguards will not affect India's weapons programme. Moreover it is upto India to decide which existing Indian reactors are for peaceful purposes and which are reserved for weapons programme.

But is it at all necessary for India to lose its liberty to test further nuclear weapons in future? Will it not threaten India of possible attacks from China which has massive amounts of nuclear weapon or Pakistan which can have unlimited supply from China.

The Congress says that though India will have to adhere to additional protocol for its civilian nuclear facilities it is a negotiable part of the statement. Congress believes that it will try to bargain a better deal while finalizing terms with International Atomic Energy Agency. But will US change its terms to accommodate India is a big question.

The Congress believes that the India –US nuclear deal will be a great diplomatic victory ever achieved in the history of the country. Do you agree?

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