Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
As a citizen of India I thank the Communists because it is they who so far have saved my motherland from the mischief of the nuke deal that Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh (Congress) following footprints of ex-Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee (BJP) has clandestinely weaved with US President George Bush.
In a convention in Delhi on September 10, 2007 the Committee on India’s Independent Foreign Policy has also held it as a mischief as the deal so designed that our sovereignty would be jeopardized if it is honored.
The massiveness of this mischief can be effortlessly assessed from the fact that the Bush administration is putting pressure on Indian government for its prompt implementation. Its Ambassador to India, David Mulford, in expressing American anxiety has said, “Now we must take the final step. Time is of essence.” (IBNlive, Sept.19, 2007)
Why it is so much eager for implementation of the agreement? The answer has already been provided by Senator Joe Lieberman of USA when he said that he was sure of his country’s congressional support to this agreement as “it is so clearly in the interests of the United States” (Reuters, August 12, 2007). It is a “bonanza for U.S. firms”, said another authority of USA, reported Reuters on August 25, 2007, quoting the source that for U.S. nuclear firms, “it opens up the Indian market, estimated to be worth $100 billion”.
But this is not the real whole. In reality, Bush wants to convert India into a repository of her nuclear waste. It is a very serious design engineered against India, initially with the help of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and now is advancing it by using its stooge Dr. Man Mohan Singh.
Vajpayee’s role, which has ultimately culminated in this controversial agreement, was quite conspiratorial against India. His 2001 joint statement for nuclear cooperation with the States was meant to help reduce its load of nuclear waste there. Due to nuclear waste deposit the ecology and internal security in the States had become so much alarming that executive actions having failed to control the menace, her House of Representatives had finally passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act 2000 that had aimed at seeking repositories elsewhere. Vajpayee, leader of a rabid rightist party, had gladly offered India to be one. Had the Act under esoteric exigencies not been vetoed, Vajpayee could have done his tenure what Singh has done today.
Singh knows what he has done is incorrect. This sense of guilt, refurbished by his fear that the Communists cannot be hoodwinked, had fidgeted him so much that an astute man like him had not been able to control his infamous utterances, “I told them (the Left) to do whatever they want to do, if they want to withdraw support, so be it….”
Maintaining his stance he had to assert in an informal conversation with the Press during oath taking of Vice President Hamid Ansari on August 11, 2007 that whatever be the force of resistance from the Left, his government will go by the deal. “The deal is signed and sealed, and it is non-negotiable,” he had declared.
He had no authority to make the deal “signed, sealed and non-negotiable”. Executive powers vested in him as the Prime Minister does not give him any carte blanche to have such superiority over the sovereign powers of Indan Parliament that whatever agreement he enters into with any foreign country should be deemed to have been agreed to by the parliament. On the other hand, the agreement with USA that he has made “signed, sealed and non-negotiable” is an instrument created under Section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act of 1954 that has made it mandatory that consents of Indian Parliament must be a prerequisite for execution of the agreement.
As records further show, the ‘Henry J. Hyde United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act of 2006’ adopted after a series of revisions in US Senate under which President George Bush and Prime Minister Manhohan Singh signed an initial agreement in July 2005, stipulates that after it becomes a law with President Bush signing the document, the USA must conclude an agreement with India on nuclear cooperation in terms of Section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act, 1954. The Indian parliament must agree to the text.
When the text of the 123 Agreements has never been agreed to by the Parliament of India, how could Prime Minister Singh “signed and sealed” it and made it “non-negotiable”? Has the Bush-Singh nexus, knowing for sure that Indian Parliament would never agree to the text, has mutually decided to suppress or to do away with the necessity of Indian Parliament giving its consent to the Agreement? If yes, then it is a killer fraud played on us Indians by our Prime Minister Mr. Singh and the American President Mr. Bush.
Bush administration is sitting on alarming accumulation of nuclear waste, reprocessing of which is also considered harmful. An authentic report presents a picture that says, “US policy since 1977 has been to forbid reprocessing of used fuel and to treat it all as high-level waste which the government is responsible for finally disposing of in a deep geological repository. Utilities have paid over $18 billion into the Nuclear Waste Fund for this mostly through a 0.1 cent/kWh levy towards final disposal, so that by mid 2007 it stood at almost $30 billion, including interest. The fund is growing by some $1 billion per year, including interest.
“It is the responsibility of utilities to store this used fuel on site until it is taken over by the federal Department of Energy for final disposal in a geological repository. Such a repository is not yet available and the DoE defaulted on its 1998 deadline to start accepting used fuel, which has put pressure on storage space at some power plants”.
This report further says, “A 70,000 tonne high-level waste repository is envisaged at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, originally envisaged as operating from about 2010. This would take 63,000 t of used reactor fuel, 2333 t of naval and DoE used fuel and 4667 t of other high-level wastes, all from 126 sites in 39 US states. As of early 2004, there was some 50,000 tonnes of civil used fuel awaiting disposal and about 8000 tonnes of government used fuel and separated high-level wastes”. But public tension is so much in the rise, an estimation putting emission of CO2 from energy use at 5.9 billion tones in 2005 alone, that, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) had to conduct a survey and come forward with a statement that the repository capacity set by US Congress at 70,000 tonnes in 1982 was “arbitrary” and it could hold at least 286,000 tonnes and possibly 628,000 tonnes of used fuel and high-level wastes.
It should not escape attention that despite official concentration in development of waste repository since 1977, following Three Mile Island accident in 1979, nuclear development in the States had suffered “a major setback” inasmuch as “many orders and projects were canceled or suspended and the nuclear construction industry went into the doldrums for two decades”. But notwithstanding this debacle, profit had allured commissioning of over a hundred of commercial power reactors by 1990, most of which have reached retirement age, their utility life being 40 years. Despite repair, they need to be discarded. It is reported that nearly 30 civil prototype and commercial reactors are being or have been decommissioned in the USA. A few have been totally dismantled so that the site is released for unrestricted use, notably Fort St Vrain, Big Rock Point and Shoreham. The majority is in various stages of dismantling or safe store. (Ibid). To manage the scenario, administration has enhanced reactor lifetime from 40 to 60 years. But can any administration through legislation or any technologist through reparation inject life into the dead? No. So, despite all out endeavors, it is getting only 19% of its electricity from nuclear reactors vis-a-vis 55% from coal-fired plants, 19% from gas and 7% from hydro. Unless nuclear capacity is substantially increased by 2020, the existing reactors having dismantled or being unmanageable by then, the energy debacle would push it into an insurmountable jeopardy. Therefore it has decided to adopt newer nuke technology for which the last generation reactors need be replaced with next generation reactors.
The American nuclear industry has managed to fetch reprieve by putting administration to enhance lifespan of reactors from 40 to 60 years and by managing the show through the EPRI survey that the presently contemplated repository capacity is much more than that estimated in 1982. But hoodwinking has its own limit.
National Academies’ report 2005, on security of interim storage of used fuel at its reactors, says that some pool storages at reactors may pose a risk due to possible high temperature combustion of fuel cladding in the event that water is drained due to terrorist attack. Though it was asserted that the “likelihood of terrorists using spent fuel for a ‘dirty bomb’ is very low”, the report strongly favored dry cask storage on security grounds.
This being the position, Bush wants two things to be done urgently. One, reduction of volume of nuclear waste and elimination of last generation reactors. The 123 Agreement is engineered to do these two things. Under this agreement, his country will sale its outdated last generation reactors to India to get space for next generation reactors and to sale its used fuel to India so that it gets rid of dangerous nuclear waste, which Prime Minister Singh has agreed to, touting a plea of power generation through reprocessing. What a shame for us Indians!
More shameful is the fact that our Prime Minister has agreed to legally accept the 123 deal as a cooperation deal even though in reality it is a business deal designed to provide US Firms with a “bonanza”. The word “cooperation” is meaningless in business. But then why all emphasis is put on this particular word in this agreement?
It is because, in the name of cooperation, when time comes, US administration will seek supply of thorium that Mother Nature has given to India in abundance. Having been excluded from the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) due to our achievement in nuclear weapons capability, and thus isolated in international trade, disadvantaged further by lack of indigenous uranium, we have developed our very own nuclear fuel cycle with thorium as the medium. We have massive stock of thorium in our land and our expertise to obtain nuclear fuel therefrom has given us a unique position as a nuclear power with our head high in international arena. But nuclear source material there is in the decline. It had a great deal of uranium mining in the 1950s. This reached the pick at 16,800 tU in 1980 when there were over 250 mines in operation. But this number abruptly dropped to 50 in 1984 when 5700 tU was produced, and then there was steady decline to 2003, with most of uranium requirements being imported. By 2003 there were only two small operations producing a total of less than 1000 tU/yr. Hence, despite commissioning next generation reactors, it is likely to face fuel shortage due to paucity of uranium. It has therefore put its eyes on the abundant stock of thorium in India and on the technology our country has uniquely developed to produce nuclear fuel from thorium. This is the reason for which the trade agreement organized under section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act, 1954 has been attired as a “nuclear cooperation agreement”.
This agreement “is clearly in the interest of United Sates” as claimed by Senator Joe Lieberman and is absolutely against the interest of India as has been shown in the foregoing paragraphs.
Communists have acted as the best sentinel of Indian interest by obstructing implementation of the agreement. Through senior leaders like Basu and Buddhadev, they have made it clear that they do not oppose use of nuclear fuel in power generation. That is even needed, they have said. But when we have our own unique technology supported by our own vast stock of thorium, there is no necessity of approving the hybrid agreement propelled by the Hyde Act targeted unuttered at our thorium stock.
Anil Kakodkar, representing India in the International Atomic Energy Agency assembly at Vienna on Sept.20 has strategically avoided to mention of the agreement. But, even there, he has said that we are “the only country now able to wheel out small pressurised heavy water reactors particularly suited to developing nations with small grids interested in nuclear energy with modest investments and infrastructure”.
We have come to this position all by our own efforts, by developing our own technology, by using our own thorium in our unique way. The so-called cooperation pact will strangulate all this while reducing our land to a repository of radioactive waste.
Man Mohan Singh should not be allowed to do this harm to our country.
We all should support the Communists in stymieing him so that the nation can get time to evaluate the deal from every aspect and take an informed decision.