July 24, 2008

Nuclear Deal With US to Liberate India From Technology Denial Regime – Scientist

Text of report by Indian news agency PTI

Kalpakkam (TN) [south India] 23 July: The Indo-US nuclear deal would liberate India from a technology denial regime since 1974 enforced after the country first tested its nuclear device and pave the way for "two-way traffic of exchange of inventions and discoveries," a top nuclear scientist said on Wednesday [23 July].

MR Srinivasan, former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), said the deal would help India import Light Water Reactors (LWR) and ensure continued supply of enriched Uranium.

Talking to reporters here after participating in the silver jubilee celebrations of the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS), Srinivasan said the nuclear isolation period from 1974 helped India build its own ability in the field.

"Developed nations have realised India is on the path of building a robust nuclear technology in strategic and civilian fields and therefore it makes no sense for us to be kept out", he said.

Srinivasan said operationalisaton of the deal would make India a global nuclear player, enabling it to invest in nuclear technology in other countries as well as help setting up such facilities in "friendly countries."

"We can build and maintain nuclear reactors which will net us a lot of revenue. In that regard, the deal is an important step," he said adding the 70,000-strong workforce of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) was prepared for this task.

With India having a mismatch of supply and demand of uranium, it was imperative that the country clinched the deal, he said adding it would also relieve the burden of too much dependence on petroleum products "whose reserves are dwindling," leading to skyrocketing prices of the same.

Dismissing the Left parties argument that the deal would make India a 'junior partner' to US, Srinivasan said "India had held its position in WTO and climate change talks. So, there is no question of compromise".

He said the technology (that India will get by signing the deal) is truly international and will help inventions and discoveries in nuclear field being shared. It applies to the rest of the world also as they will be able to share inventions and discoveries made by Indian scientists," he said

To a query on the fate of the deal if India goes in for a nuclear test, he said the issue had not been discussed in the 123 Agreement since "India had given a voluntary moratorium on nuclear tests after the 1998 Pokhran-II tests by the then NDA [national democratic alliance] government."

"According to the US Atomic Act 1954, the mother of Hyde Act, the US President has the right to recall the equipment if India goes in for a nuclear bomb test. But according to provisions, it has to give a notice period. It should also consider the events that led India to test the bomb such as the prevailing security situation in the region," he said.

However, there were no such laws in countries like France or Russia, he said hinting at the prospects of India ensuring uranium supply from these European countries.

Even if the Hyde Act is applied, if and when India carries out a nuclear test, the nuclear Research and Development (R&D) centres would be exempted from IAEA safeguards regime, Srinivasan said.

S.A. Bharadwaj, Director (Technical), Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NCPIL), said many countries had approached India to help them install 220 MW nuclear power plants.

"Low cost and high expertise are the reasons behind it," he said, adding requests had come for setting up Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PWHR) even from developed countries like Canada.

India, which took 16 years to build the reactors in the initial period of the nuclear power regime, now has the expertise to do that in five years, Bhardwaj said.

Among other projects, the Koodankulam power project, a Russian collaborative effort, would see an addition of 4000 mw to the existing 2000 mw by 2020.

"We want to generate a total of 20,000 MW of nuclear power by 2020," he added.

Originally published by PTI news agency, New Delhi, in English 2030 23 Jul 08.

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