Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

India’s much trumpeted nuclear reactor construction binge has fizzled out

India’s much trumpeted nuclear reactor construction binge has fizzled out… in the next five years we should not
expect any shipments from Australia.

The India-US nuclear deal had one aspect of tacit proliferation built into its structure – the horizontal proliferation of knowledge from the civilian to the military

As a result while all kinds of water-tight restrictions were placed on the transfer of materials and power, none was placed on the movement of scientists. This of course was well known, the point was to acquire French reprocessing technology – ostensibly for civilian purposes but then to duplicate the same to improve India’s reportedly dismal weapons material reprocessing.

The scary state of Indian reactors, their safety and security has long been whispered about – but was blown apart by the CAG’s indictment a few months back.

Julia’s Nuclear Tango – Analysis http://www.eurasiareview.com/18102012-julias-nuclear-tango-analysis/
 IPCS October 18, 2012 By Abhijit Iyer‐Mitra As expected, nuclear negotiations took centre stage during Australian
Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s visit to Delhi. Much talk of cultural links owing to the English language, cricket, a Westminster style parliament was bandied about. While Australia insists on a multifaceted engagement to build deep interdependencies, India sees only its one point agenda in all of this and has held ties hostage to the supply of Uranium. While opinions in Delhi seem optimistic many factors point to need for a hard reality check.
To start off, Australia as of now has no capacity to supply India.
Given its current commitments are backlogged, new mines in Olympic Dam
(South Australia) were meant to generate the additional uranium that
would feed India. Given that India’s much trumpeted nuclear reactor
construction binge has fizzled out, the market pressures that would
have spurred on Olympic dam’s expansion added to Australia’s own
internal anti-nuclear sentiments means that this will probably not
happen. What this means is that in the next five years we should not
expect any shipments from Australia.
Logistical problems aside there are legal issues at work here which
may ossify the relationship into its current lukewarm state. Australia
in all its other nuclear supply agreements insists on a total
separation of personnel – i.e. people working in civilian facilities
fuelled by Australian uranium cannot be transferred to weapons
facilities at any point of time – past present or future. Gillard it
is reliably learnt insisted on this clause. Given that her minority
government is dependent on the greens, who are already angered by the
nuclear deal with India, there is only so much that they can be pushed
around before things snap.

The India-US nuclear deal had one aspect of tacit proliferation built into its structure – the horizontal proliferation of knowledge from the civilian to the military.

As a result while all kinds of water-tight restrictions were placed on the transfer of materials and
power, none was placed on the movement of scientists. This of course
was well known, since the point was to acquire French reprocessing technology – ostensibly for civilian purposes but then to duplicate the same to improve India’s reportedly dismal weapons material reprocessing.
Australia however will have none of this – and all indications are
that their diplomats have smartened up to India’s negotiating tactics
on this score. India’s sob story rests on the basis of acutely limited
domain knowledge. That is to say since the pool of trained nuclear
scientists is so small they have to do everything from running
reactors, ensuring power output, reprocessing spent fuel, refining raw
fuel, auditing their colleagues, and making bombs when they get some
free time. Indian diplomats presumably will argue this exact story –
and ask that Australia make concessions on this score. If it gets
nasty the negotiating position will swing to the fact that Australia
is providing us with raw material not technology and they should
confine their overly long noses only to the safety and security of
their produce.

While Indians have a right to be indignant here we need to remind
ourselves that the Australians are in fact doing us a favour. The
Indian “negotiating position” is complete tosh. Much of this has to do
with India’s nuclear scientists wanting to protect themselves from
accountability. The scary state of Indian reactors, their safety and security has long been whispered about – but was blown apart by the CAG’s indictment a few months back. In effect no other institution in India has the kind of hilarious “self auditing” and complete lack of accountability outside of the Indian judiciary. But this same
establishment also gave us the bomb (even if most of those bombs were
duds) and so control the institutional mechanisms of nuclear
negotiations with an Iron fist – having direct access to the prime
minister and shielding all errors of omission and commission with the
label “TOP SECRET” – a luxury even the Indian judiciary can’t afford.

Whether or not Australia achieves this separation in the Indian
establishment, this does force a closer introspection within India’s
establishment. This is good for us on a variety of counts – especially
safety and security but also in terms of being forced to expand its
educational capacity to produce more nuclear scientists and a far
greater professionalism in the manufacture, storage and deployment of
our bombs. In short this is good for our arsenal as it is for our
infrastructure – despite what our nuclear establishment tells us. The
real tests will lie of course in how good Australia’s negotiating
pitch is – if they make the mistake of casting this as a dogmatic sine
qua non, we all lose.

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October 19, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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