The Indo-US Nuclear Deal: What’s Happening?

In a bid to save the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government from loosing the no-confidence motion in 2008, instigated by the CPI(M) by withdrawing its support and opposing the government’s approach towards the Indo-US nuclear deal, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addressed the house and explained the plight of a helpless young widow with three children to look after and also briefed the benefits her family could reap with the civil nuclear power agreement. His rationale was sensible enough and the government escaped the axe to progress with the deal. The historic Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear agreement, formally announced on July 28th, 2005 by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and then U.S. President George W. Bush, has rocked many shores but has been sailing steadily to a climax. This deal has raked up enough attention over the last four years and is being anticipated by the optimists as the most fruitful deal but the critics gave it a thumbs down claiming it to be more submissive to the nuclear super powers and diluting India’s stand on nuclear non-proliferation.

Both the nations have seen major changes over the course of this deal; The Hyde Act to modify the requirements of Section 123 (the famous “123 agreement” is intended to establish a consensus for cooperation as a prerequisite for nuclear deals between the US and any other nation) of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act to permit nuclear cooperation with India, India faced stiff opposition over the 123 agreement and lead to the no-confidence motion against the UPA government in India. However the major one was a regime change in the USA with Democrat’s Barack Obama replacing the Republican’s George W Bush as the president. The Democrats shared different ideologies over this deal and have expressed their concern over the non-proliferation terms, President Obama has a different approach on non-proliferation and seeks to rejuvenate traditional instruments like the NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty), which India has treated as being discriminatory. His administration might work towards re-negotiating the terms of this deal and force India to review its approach towards the NPT. The Indian regime is confident that the United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Non-proliferation Enhancement Act signed by then U.S. President, George W. Bush, on October 8, 2008 would not go in vain.

Some remarkable achievements towards the success of this deal are:

1. The NSG (Nuclear Supplier Group) granting the waiver for India to pursue nuclear enrichment for civilian usage, despite not signing the NPT, during the NSG meeting held in Vienna, Austria on September 6th, 2008.

2. The IAEA ( International Atomic Energy Agency) Board of Governors approving to safeguard the civil nuclear facilities in India on August 18, 2008.

3. India signing an India-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA on February 2, 2009.

These events have drawn appreciation and approval from all the major nuclear powers like the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Russia, and Germany.However after some initial opposition, Australia, Switzerland, and Canada have given their consent. Taking a leap further, India has signed a similar pact with France as well.

If the political ambitions, criticism and the bureaucratic hoopla about this deal are set aside the availability of nuclear power for civilian purposes will be a blessing in disguise for all the sectors in India. Even after considering the functioning of our governments and related agencies this resource will cause a major economic spin off. 30-40% of the crops in India are lost every year due to lack of water supply and the current power supply is inadequate to pump up ground water to evade this loss, with twice the power supply from these nuclear generators at considerably cheaper cost of operation the crop supply would increase manifold. More industries would emerge with better equipment and technology at our disposal producing world class products. The young widow can imagine a better future for her family with good education, jobs and living conditions not being a rare entity any more. As anticipated by experts, the setting up and availability of the civil nuclear power in India would bring in $150 billion dollars into our country over the next decade. As we progress into the age of depleting resources and growing environmental issues the civil nuclear enrichment in India will be a boon.

Ikshwak Kandi

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