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India is willing to join the NSG now, today if possible. It has all the elements in place for membership. As the 48-member NSG works by consensus, not majority, India is reaching out to every possible country, much like the push at the UNGA for reforms.

Why NSG?

  • Membership of the NSG creates a climate of predictability with regard to rules for nuclear commerce with India, giving both Indian and foreign companies the confidence to commit the resources that will be needed for the expansion of nuclear power in India. India being a price-sensitive energy market, such an outcome also helps keep the cost of nuclear power within a reasonable band by lowering the risk premium.
  • Access to technology for a range of uses from medicine to building nuclear power plants for India from the NSG which is essentially a traders’ cartel. India has its own indigenously developed technology but to get its hands on state of the art technology that countries within the NSG possess, it has to become part of the group.
  • With access to latest technology, India can commercialize the production of nuclear power equipment. This, in turn will boost innovation and high tech manufacturing in India and can be leveraged for economic and strategic benefits. For example, India has signed a civil nuclear energy co-operation pact with Sri Lanka. Currently,  this entails training people in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including use of radioisotopes, nuclear safety, radiation safety, nuclear security, radioactive waste management and nuclear and radiological disaster mitigation.
  • Having the ability to offer its own nuclear power plants to the world means spawning of an entire nuclear industry and related technology development. This could give the Make in India programme a big boost.
  • With India committed to reducing dependence on fossil fuels and ensuring that 40% of its energy is sourced from renewable and clean sources, there is a pressing need to scale up nuclear power production. This can only happen if India gains access to the NSG. Even if India today can buy power plants from the global market thanks to the one time NSG waiver in 2008, there are still many types of technologies India can be denied as it is outside the NSG.

 

On the surface, India appears to have fulfilled the commitments it agreed to in exchange for the deal that ended the nuclear trade prohibition.

  • It officially implemented a separation plan, which placed 14 civilian nuclear power reactors under IAEA safeguards, leaving 8 military reactors outside of safeguards,
  • It has sustained its unilateral halt on testing nuclear explosives and,
  • In June 2014, India ratified a protocol that expanded the IAEA’s access to its nuclear sites.

Though U.S. has argued that despite its status outside the NPT, India is sufficiently like-minded regarding non-proliferation to merit membership. Some sceptics, such as Switzerland, might be amenable to this argument if India demonstrated support for non-proliferation through concrete actions. Others, such as Austria, Ireland or New Zealand,may remain opposed on principle unless India joins the NPT, which is extremely unlikely as this would require Delhi to disarm. China has also opposed India’s bid to get NSG membership on the ground that it was yet to sign the NPT.

But India defends its stance by saying that NSG members have to respect safeguards and export controls, nuclear supplies have to be in accordance with the NSG Guidelines. The NSG is an ad hoc export control regime and France, which was not an NPT member for some time, was a member of the NSG since it respected NSG’s objectives. Thus there is no need for NPT as per-requisite for India,s membership in NSG.

 As an important global partner for the United States and a leader in Asia, India’s half-in-half-out nuclear status should not remain permanently unresolved. With the US once again openly endorsing the Indian membership to the NSG in recent, India has begun preparations for the NSG plenary, scheduled to be held in Korea in June.

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