Thursday, March 02, 2006

India, US seal N-deal: Has Delhi given away a lot?

India, US seal N-deal: Has Delhi given away a lot?

Lets see it objectively:

what's it is all about?
- All Indian current and future "civilian" nuclear plants will now be put under permanent international safeguards
- In return, US assures India of uninterrupted supply of nuclear fuel
- The world market will be accessible to India for nuclear fuel once it joins the loop
- India will be free to continue its nuclear programme - be it development of new reactors of military programme
- 14 of India's 22 reactors will now come under international scanner

Now what is that India gain's?
- Costs of uranium will go down.
- Deal will open the door to nuclear power suppliers from Russia and France to set up plants in India
- These countries will take back the spent fuel (greenpeace pay attn)
- India can get international nuclear technology for its reactors

What will India giveup?
-- All these facilities will be open to inspections by the IAEA
- India won't be allowed to trade in military part of nuclear sphere

Now analyses time:-

No sensible person can deny the benefits from what India is gaining. At a time when India has huge power shortage which is also mother of all infrastructure related crisis, nuclear power is welcome. We can put a safe bet on India's future with nuclear power. No doubt that it is risky proposition in terms of hazards or environmental issues, but I firmly believe these are problems which have solution. The solution are easy if we put our brains in engineering our reactors well and when we are disciplined on usage, waste disposal and in general safety and security. It a small price to feed, grow and prosper nearly 1.1 billion Indians.

On the other hand, looking at what India might has to give up the most concern that people are having is having an IAEA watchdog on our reactors. Mind you we already have them on 6 of the proposed 14. We will still have 8 marked as military including fast breeders. The concern is that our nuclear capability will be capped.
We already have some nuclear capability and if govt is to be believed then we will have sufficient strike back capability to meet our current "demands" from China, Pak etc.

Infact I do not think as a nation any of these would ever dare to launch nuclear war as a nuclear war has only losers and no winners. What must concern us is that the nukes of Pak are open for sale to terrorists. It is that shop which we need to shut as that is the most realistic threat to us in current scenario. And the only diplomatic way to do that would be to show it ourselves and get Pak do it too. It will ensure that our capability is not capped because practically we would have increased our capability by relatively decreasing our "enemy's" capability.

India not being able to trade in military nuclear area looks irrelevant to me as Dr. A Q Khan who was born in Bhopal has already moved his shop to Pakistan. We have got no more nuke traders. Add to that our brilliant scientist are confident that we have got a good deal by ensuring perennial supply of cheaper uranium.

In conclusion, I do not think that New Delhi has given away something big unless there is no conspiracy theory behind and what we are seeing is more or less truth.

I would extend this blog with this White House link India Civil Nuclear Cooperation: Responding to Critics. This information very much supports my assumptions and analysis .


Venu Gorti said...

Interesting analysis! And I agree with it.
BTW, I am also a fellow ISB admit for 2007 class.

On similar lines, but on a different subject is my objection is to India - Iran pipeline. Even with all this positive vibes from Pakistan, any venture of such importance should NOT include Pakistan at this stage. Period. What do you think?

Abhishek said...

Hey Venu

Nice to hear from you. Hope to see you soon.

One the pipeline issue, Even though Pakistan cannot be relied upon, I feel there are two reasons which make sense to "partner" Pak for an oil pipeline from Iran.

1. We need oil at a good rate. Iran is one of a promising source but geography constrains us to involve Pakistan. Bypassing it may make pipeline unviable. Getting it through Pak may even lessen our capital expenditure burden by sharing pipeline cost with Pak.

2. If at all this pipeline comes, It will be a matter of enormous international interest and whole world would be watching. Hence Pakistan will do whatever possible (should not be hard for it) to protect the pipeline from any possible terrorist attack. Also Pak is oil thirsty and would be drawing oil from it. So it will not be desired by it to disrupt supplies.

Considering the fact that Iran will gain much more from selling oil to India than Pak, any abuse from Pak will ensure that it will also lose.

Also as per the old trick of making thief an Inspector makes him responsible lets give it a try. After all Indian Railways has started making profits under "leadership" of Laloo irrespective of all gimmicks.

Venu Gorti said...

I understand where you are coming from and I don't deny the sense in both of your logics. Pakistan, historically, has not had control over all its elements. For instance, even today, Pakistan is trying to control the terrorism from its side of the border but is unable to do it. For every India - Pakistan joint venture, be it anti-terrorism or energy, there will be say around 30% of influential people on the other side who would be against it. The rest 70% might want it and get it endorsed but the 30% might have enough power to disrupt normal operation.

Pakistan has had strong dissidents within it ranks, and mark my words here, even if something does happen to the pipe line, all that the Pakistan 'officials' can do is throw their hands up and say 'it wasn't us,we tried but ..... ' .

The point being that any venture which has so much risk should not be taken. The Pak government might protect it today, but tomorrow they might have a relegious fanatic government which may go ahead and destroy it, or some excited terrorists protesting the visit of an Indian PM or .... you get the point.

You must note here that I am not offering an alternative solution, am only pointing out a big flaw in the current setup. The only viable long term solution that I can think of is look within India for an energy source. Strong research projects should be started to tap into alternative fuels. India would need to develop its own solution, if it has to grow the way we all want it to grow.

Abhishek said...

There is no doubt that alternate energy research project are required, not just for India but overall for whole world. A breakthrough there can mean a breakthrough in "war against terrorism" too as all their funding channels somehow link to the oil business.

But, given the fact that we are nowhere close on that front and nobody knows when something tangible would energy, so we need oil to hang on up till that time. Oil prices are rising above $60 per barrel, and it is expected that it will soon go up to $100. This high price cannot be afforded by Indian economy and we need to get ourselves a committed supply for next 10-20 years. Iran seems to be easiest option and most viable if we cross over the US sponsored hurdle.

Coming to Pakistan, I may be wrong, but my hunch is that its Pakistani Army who indeed has supreme control over everything that goes on in their territory. And if Pakistan is as oil thirsty as we are, then it would be in its own interest to protect the pipeline. Also if we look into the positive side of you concern, then it means a huge lot of Pak army will be protecting pipeline which will mean that there would be fewer available to help terrorist infiltrate into Kashmir :)

I know I am being too optimistic with Pakistan, but I do not see a solution to Indian economy's energy needs otherwise. We just need to "educate" Pakistan on benefits of a better economy!