Nuclear power contributes about 2 per cent of the current electricity generation in India.
At present, India is producing 3,300 MW. In 2020, the production would be 7,000 MW. According to the Planning Commission and the Prime Minister, the capacity of nuclear power would be 20,000 MW in 2020. In order to get there India will buy second-hand reactors from the US to produce 13,000 MW of nuclear power. India will have to spend about Rs 2 lakh crore for reactors and another Rs 8 lakh crore to set them up with fuel facilities to achieve that goal. The Indian budget is only Rs 6.5 lakh crore per year.
Thus, India will spend two times more than the country’s annual budget on setting up these vintage reactors only. Even if India were to achieve a 50 per cent increase in nuclear power generation (which is unlikely) such a step would only increase India’s overall electricity output by one per cent at most, and would only increase India’s overall energy output by a fraction of one per cent. The reason, the US is pushing so hard that India should accept the deal, is, that this deal is nothing but Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) in a different name. India so far has refused to sign the NPT as it would not allow India to develop or keep nuclear weapons but allow India to import civilian nuclear reactors, which would be under the safeguards of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Authority).
India is not a “pariah” in the world regarding nuclear energy. Since 1974, despite of the western sanction, India has received every nuclear technology, and materials including nuclear power plants, fast breeder reactors, reprocessing and enrichment plants and heavy water plants from the Soviet Union and later Russia. As a result, India is self-sufficient in nuclear technology and can produce nuclear weapons despite all the efforts of the US to stop it.
Only for the last two years, because of its membership of the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group), Russia now wants to supply nuclear power plants with safeguard; so that the plants cannot be used to produce any nuclear weapons. However, at the same time, it has offered offshore nuclear plants to India, which would be without any restrictions. India can have both or either of the on-shore or offshore nuclear power plants from Russia even without 123 Treaty with the US.
Already the US senate has imposed a new clause in the Hyde Act that in future US organisations would make sure India will not be able to gain any advantage to use its nuclear facilities to create nuclear weapons. Section 104(d) (2) of the Hyde Act stipulates that transfers to India cannot begin without these suitable changes in NSG guidelines.
Also there are provisions in the legislation, which would put a cap on fissile material production. The US will not give India the right to reprocess spent fuel. About 90 per cent of all nuclear facilities, including the Russian built fast breeder reactors, which can also produce plutonium for both its fuel and nuclear weapons, will be included in the civilian sector.
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. Thus, India’s nuclear weapons programme will disappear. This is the real aim of the Indo-US treaty.
India decided on a three-stage nuclear programme back in the 50’s, when the nuclear power generation programme was set up. In the final stage, the Fast Breeder Reactors (FBR) will use thorium and produce uranium-233 for use in the third stage of these reactors.
FBRs can produce enough plutonium to be used as fuel in subsequent stages so as to make themselves self-sufficient. India began the construction of the Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR) in 2005 with help from Russia. Russian built FBRs will be ready by 2009.
India has a large estimated thorium reserves of some 290,000 tonnes, it ranks second only to Australia. This would help India to bring independence from overseas uranium sources and India would be at liberty to produce as many nuclear weapons as it likes. However, according to the Indo-US Deal, India’s fast breeder reactors, which can utilise thorium to produce plutonium, would be under the control of the IAEA and the US authority and will not be allowed to produce plutonium.
Without the nuclear deal India can go ahead developing both nuclear weapons and nuclear energy using offshore nuclear plants offered by Russia. Russian atomic concern Rosenergoatom is constructing the world’s first floating nuclear station (PATES). This is based on the reactors that had been for decades used in Russian nuclear submarines and icebreakers. KLT-40C (the reactor of PATES) with 70 Mega Watt power is sufficient for supplying energy to a town with the population of 50 000 people.
India can certainly take advantage of this new technology, as the offshore nuclear plants in international water along India’s coastline would be outside the jurisdiction of either Nuclear Suppliers Group or the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. This is exactly what President Putin earlier has suggested but India was not interested. In the case of nuclear deal with the US also, India just like in 1991 and 1995 is accepting a subordinate position in relation to the US and the Western countries. The result will make Pakistan much stronger than India in the very near future. That serves the geo-political interest of the United States with Pakistan as the bridge to the Islamic world. The unfolding scenario will ruin India in the process when India will be forced to surrender also to the demands of Pakistan, a NATO ally of the US, and China, the most important business partner of the US corporations and on whom the fate of the US Dollar depends. This is the real issue, which Indian political establishment is ignoring.