Indo-US Nuclear Deal
The IUP Journal of Governance and Public Policy, 2007, vol. II, issue 1, 25-32
The outcome of the Indo-US Nuclear Deal significantly alters the share of nuclear power in the total electricity generation capacity in India in the coming decades. There is severe shortage of power at the present and it is likely to continue. With the modest resources available and due to environmental concerns, large-scale deployment of nuclear power is inevitable. However, limited availability of uranium is a serious constraint. Department of Atomic Energy (DAE)’s three-stage nuclear power programme of progressive utilisation of uranium, the plutonium generated from spent fuel and finally the abundantly available thorium is moving forward. However, progress is rather slow. For it to succeed, considerable quantity of uranium is required, which has to be imported. The Indo-US Deal assumes importance in this context. It can bring in external inputs in the form of nuclear reactors, fuel for the indigenously built reactors or both. In both the cases, India, in all likelihood, will not be permitted to reprocess the spent fuel to separate plutonium, the much-needed fuel for breeder reactors to continue the three-stage programme successfully. Thus, Indo-US Deal helps only in augmenting the generation capacity quickly and not in our plans of indigenous development in other areas. Acceptance of the Deal is subject to continuation of our freedom to pursue R&D, weapons programme and the three-stage plan independently. If it does not take off for whatsoever reason, we will continue with our plans. However, the prospect of nuclear power contributing significantly to the nation’s energy needs gets adversely affected and delayed.
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