Organiser :: June 17, 2007 :: N-deal stuck on US obstinacy
By M.D. Nalapat
Although India has six times more thorium reserves than uranium deposits, a succession of pusillanimous governments in New Delhi has prevented the needed exploitation of either resource.
Were the Government of India serious about meeting Indiaâ€™s energy needs, it would speed up the thorium-based programme and utilise more effectively the countryâ€™s stock of uranium as well as fuel feedstock, so as to enhance the countryâ€™s base inventory of plutonium.
The reality is that, given political will, India has all the elements in place to fast-track the indigenous thorium programme. Such a move would ensure that for generations to come the country does not fall prey to externally orchestrated sanctions.
With the price of uranium having gone up by about 300 per cent over the last three years, it makes no sense for India to give up a much more economically viable and proliferation-resistant technology
that uses thorium, in favour of imported uranium.
After having promised India an equitable deal, the country is being pressured to settle for a killer agreement. With the Bush administration moving away from its initial position on the core issue of fuel supply and re-processing even before the 1-2-3 agreement is inked, clearly hoping for a dilution of the several killer conditions set by the Hyde Act would be foolish.
Among such conditions is the inspections regime mandated under the legislation. These would comprise of multiple agencies, the effect of which would be to uncover every key technology that has been indigenously developed. Thanks to the proposed nuclear deal, India may find its technology taken away by the US and sold back to it! With India taking the lead on global thorium technology, the inspections prescribed by the Hyde legislation and later by the IAEA would ensure that the countryâ€™s intellectual property would be taken away and even patented in other countries. This would happen as a result of the many â€œsafeguardsâ€