Everybody is today talking about nuke deal with US. Almost all the people barring the leftist are arguing that 123 deal will help India jack up Power production, will help sagging Indian nuclear industry, allow state of technology to be imported. The moot question is this the objective of nuke deal? Do India really have huge shortage of uranium and its tech to process it? Is re-processing so important that without, we would not be able to prosper? Will backing of deal now mean loss of credibility for India on international fora?
Lets examine these issues one by one..
1) Does India really have shortage of nuclear fuel i.e. Uranium?
Ans: The question is bit wrong. first of all nuclear fuel does not mean only uranium. plutonium, thorium are also used as fuel in nuclear reactors. India has also been designing fast breeder reactors based on thorium as fuel requiring very less uranium as startup fuel. India has 0.8% of world uranium reserves i.e 78,000 tonnes of that metal. aren't these enough? yes, this much fuel is enough to generate electricity for India needs. A mix of AHWRS(Advanced Heaby Water Reactors) and FBRs(Fast Breeder Reactors) can fuel India's needs to produce 3,50,000 Mw of electricity in next half century. This prediction is based on current reserves. If we take into account the newly developed FTBR (Fast Thorium Breeder Reactor) , we can then work wonders. Although the new technology is still years away from actual implementation, it can reasonably assured that this tech can work. The way this reactor breeds Uranium and Plutonium, we can theoretically double capacity every 15-20 years. This all is based on current reserves of uranium think what will happen, if we are able to find more deposits of uranium?
2) Does India have shortage of uranium and its tech to reprocess?
Ans: The above questions answer comfortably answers even to the current question that we do have enough uranium and the related tech to reprocess it. India has built FBTR (Fast Breeder Test Reactor) "Kamini" to prove the same. we are also in the process to intall bigger breeder reactors. The development of FTBR, which not only breeds plutonium (which is also used as input) but also breeds uranium. It is also called twin core reactor for its unique design. These all inputs prove that yes, we have technology to process and reprocess the nuclear fuel.
3) Is re-processing so important that without, we would not be able to prosper?
Ans: The answer to this question is "YES", we need reprocessing of fuel to breed it and enhance our overall potential to generate power or electricity, whatever we use it for. All the above calculation of 3,50,000 Mwe of power is based on the fact that we are able to reprocess the spent fuel on AHWRs and breed them using FBRs. This was in fact India three step program to achieve independency in nuclear power. So reprocessing is absolutely essential for India.
4) Will backing of deal now mean loss of credibility for India on international fora?
Ans: No. backing out of this deal India would not lose credibility. India is already such a huge success story that none of the constituemts of world economy ignore India. Irrespective of what is happening to Nuke deal, we will keep contiuning our business with China and other nations. Nuclear deal has not yet been signed or ratified by either party. It needs to be endorsed by IAEA (International Atomic energy Agency) and NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) to be enforced. We are still at step two of long process. Actually killing deal at this point of time will not make big difference compared to India backing out after getting all the approvals.
5) The big question now is then what is the purpose of this Nuke Deal?
Ans: World today is not correct representation of its constituents. The NPT regime(Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) and CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty) does not treats responsible countries with difference rather favours only specific countries and punishes responsible countries like India. No country can undo the process of NPT or CTBT but almost all the major powers realise that excluding an big country like India from the nuclear club cannot be in their interests. So to gain backdoor entry into nuclear club, this nuke deal is being done.
Being said this, I would further say this is not the only reason. This reason sounds acceptable from view of other countries. In case of India, it gives an opportunity to legitimise the nuclear weaponisation of the country. It provides an opportunity to override the international rules for non-nuclear country as per NPT.
India has its own nuclear weapons programme. Having earlier said that Uranium reserves are enough for power generation, these very same reserves also need to be utilised for weapons programme. If they are used for weapons, we will not be able to reprocess and increase it potentiality. we need separate reserves for our weapons programme too. If this deal goes through, we can use the indigenous nuclear fuel for our weapons programme and use imported fuel for our power generation.
In case of testing of nuclear weapon and sanctions by all countries(which will never happen), we can always back off from treaty and refuse to handover the used, processed and reprocessed fuel. No country can take military action for the same against us. Maximum harm that may happen is some countries will cease to have nuclear relations with us for some time. Then after that all relations will be re-established.
In this current world politics, we need to get out of the non-servient thinking and look beyond words. Our acts to strengthen our defence and economic power will be deterrent to other countries to snap ties with us. Though we honour all treaties and agreements, we should never let these things to come as hinderance to the progress of the country as whole. We need to diplomatically twist the situations to our needs and gian from them.....