Friday, August 24, 2007

Indo/US nuke deal, view from AEC scientist

The following points raised by a retired AEC scientist is worth a read with respect

The Nuclear DEAL?
1. The Indo US Cooperation on the Civilian Nuclear Program and the Agreement is now being called a 'deal', which, in common 'parlance' is not considered a polite word and our Prime Minister is being targeted as if he has made some underhand 'deal' with the US; some political parties including ones supporting the Government are doubting the integrity of the PM; it is a matter of National shame.
2. With his team from the MEA and DAE the PM has spent so much time and effort to bring the agreement to this stage / shape.
3. The opposition is talking of the Hyde Act, that if India carries out a Nuclear Test in future, all cooperation will stop. We do not even know if at all and when, in the distant future, a test/s will be required by the nation / scientists. Circumstances may be different and may be favourable, political alignment may be different; as of now we are in a self imposed moratorium, and correctly so.
4. The whole agreement is on the civilian nuclear program; our weapon's program will continue as it always has been, with our own reactors, reprocessing plants, enrichment plants and heavy water plants. We are not going to be giving the design and technology to any one; why, then are we pointing out that the US will not give these technologies as part of the civilian agreement?
5. About past tests and our strengths - we have been isolated with sanctions since 1974. The DAE scientists, engineers and technologists took up the challenge and after more than thirty years' efforts have brought the nation to this stage of strength and pride that all other developed nations, not only the US but also other developed nations including the Russian Federation and the so called Eastern Block, have extended a hand for us to join them and we, after working and negotiating so hard, do not want to shake hands!
6. Are we conveying our arrogance? No other country, not even those who have been signatories to the NPT have been given such a chance.
7. Due to sanctions, we lived in isolation however, we put in efforts and spent resources to develop equipment, material and systems which are available at a relatively nominal cost. Of course, we are not complaining, we are all happy and proud that we, scientists and technologists were given the chance by the country to prove ourselves; if required we can and will do it again. But is it required? Especially, when we have achieved our objective and the world has recognised so?
8. We are proud of this because 30 years is a long period in the life of an individual (nearly all of one's productive working life) but for the life of a nation this is small.
9. At this stage, if we do not proceed further with the agreement (and not 'deal'), the world will not pardon us and the future isolation / sanctions may be more severe. Can we afford this when we are on the path of economic progress? India's international image will take a severe beating and our principles and our strategic strength will suffer; of course, our neighbours will only be too happy!
10. If ever we have to conduct a nuclear test in the distant future, we will weigh the consequences as we did in 1974, and again, in 1998 and decide; no country can dictate and the situation will be no different! We believe citizens of India should awaken and force all our politicians to support this agreement ; we must seize the opportunity help India attain leadership In addition to voting for the Taj Mahal as one of the seven wonders of the world, here is an opportunity for us to make INDIA, the wonder of the world!

A K Anand Retired from BARC in 2001 as Director Reactor Projects Group and Director Technical Coordination and International Relations Group