Firstly, an apology to those who I'm supposed to have sent emails to. I won't be able to do that. This post is meant to fill in some gaps.
There's an issue that hasn't been mentioned, (except sotto vocce from some folks), that is a primary driver of the nuke deal from our side that folks should be aware of. All sorts of folks. . .
A brief diversion into monsoon village energy production in the motherland
Do folks know how coal is made? No not *dug up*, how is it *made*. And I'm not talking geological processes. In the old days, when I was an adorably good looking child loved by one and all, (i.e. a couple or perhaps four decades back) burning wood during the monsoons was a bummer of an experience.
So folks would make coal. They way you make coal is real simple - and which can still be seen in upteen villages by the way - you burn the wood *slowly*.
More accurately, you pile up a fair amount of heavy wood (mango, jackfruit, etc. can't just use twigs, leaves and branches), cover the wood with a blanket of mud until it looks like an earthen mound then set fire to the wood inside the mound.
The lack of oxygen means that the burn rate is controlled and instead of the wood burning to ashes it burns very slowly and turns into coal. Said coal is then used during the monsoons when wood burning is a nightmare. (Look up google for more on wood coal.)
Well, I don't suppose I have to point out the obvious analogies with our current nuke energy policy do I? Take a fuel, (wood or uranium) that burns, but whose energy output is not optimal. Burn it slowly covered in a blanket of something else (mud or thorium), and that process turns it into a more useful fuel that increases the energy output by orders of magnitude.
(We (humans) like to think of ourselves as terribly sophisticated don't we? Fact is, after thousands of years we still get our energy by burning things the same way as our cavemen ancestors huddling in the cold around the wood fire.
For energy *something* has to burn. The "sophistication" comes in simply in the way we burn things. That's all.)
The strategic driver of energy
Right, now that's terribly interesting, but who cares and what's the point?
(Besides the actually fascinating fact that India's energy policy is rooted in the energy policies of our village history. Some of you may dislike that perspective. I don't. I love the idea that our oh-so sophisticated energy/reactors policies are simply an updated and copied version of the traditional method of our old village women producing energy to store for their families during the hard monsoon times!)
And here's the point: >> The heart of this from our perspective is, NOT the production but the *STORAGE*
Here's the heart of the reprocessing issue:
The Nuclear Dump as strategic asset
Over the course of the Indo-US agreement you're going to hear a lot about India being used as a nuclear dump for western nuclear waste products. i.e. The re-processing issue is going to be turned into a "poisonous waste being dumped on third world" issue.
But what's the nuclear waste? It's "used up" uranium. i.e. In our analogy above, we're actually going to build up a store of nuclear *material* which is, quite literally a precussor material that used (burned!) properly actually outputs energy that's orders of magnitude over what a simple uranium burn gives us.
A Nuclear dump sure. BUT: It's also a Nuclear and Energy Vault
A storehouse of tremendous energy whose value could be larger than the energy output of the ME oil wells. And is therefore a horde of wealth and useable Power (in both senses of the word) of mind boggling proportions.
Think of it for a moment. Currently, only the US and Russia have this ability. (The Japanese also have a large store but are actually just a part of US assets in reality.) The Euros are much further behind with only France having a *competitive* global position in terms of energy cost structures. And the french are well behind the US and Russia.
The reprocessing issue ensures that India joins the US and Russia with this ability. And given *both* our hard earned technological competency *and* our cost structure, we'll be in a better long term position than anyone else.
Understand folks: This issue is crucial
. It's the heart of everything.
Neither Coal, Oil nor gas production can be used to fill in the energy gap that Indo-Chinese growth is creating in global energy sources. No "alternative" source has the required technological width to make up that gap. Only nuclear - a well understood technology for the the past 6 decades or so.
Over the next few decades the marginal utility in energy production will be almost entirely nuclear
. - *Unless* there's some disruptive technological breakthrough.
And if nuclear is going to be "it", then whoever has the ability to increase energy output from a given quantity of raw yellowcake is going to have a global currency of power that is . . .
Yes, the suppliers of yellowcake will be there too, but that's like the current situation where the ME supplies crude and all value addition is in the production process.
Think of Iran. They actually have a *fuel shortage* while exporting crude because they don't have refineries! And unlike refiniries which a number of countries have, nuclear "refineries" will be limited. . . *extremely* limited.
And given India's cost structures, we could end up being the worlds nuclear refinery. With all that that entails.
This issue was one of the hold-ups, but funnily enough was, so I'm told, driven by comments of US allies. i.e. Euroland, Japan and others. Everyone understands what this could mean. And one of the drivers of the holdup in an agreement was how they could ensure that India did *NOT* end up in such a dominant position a few years from now.
The US/West and Russians *have* to have a global stranglehold on this issue if they're to have any *controlling* influence over India and China in the long run. Others however, in places like Euroland and Japan, seem to be driven by H&D issues!
That (from the US allies point of view) was the real heart of the matter, or so I'm told. The testing and weponisation issue in the media was certainly important, but a bit of a blindside**. Not even the dippiest of NPA's were under any illusion they could do anything about our weapons. (I don't have to point out on BR, I hope, that the NPA types are about maintaining US/Western superiority and don't give a stuff about nukes as such as long as that criterion is fullfilled. The "believing anti-nuke" type NPA's are simply useful idiots.)
Part of the US-Russian nuclear partnership that's discussed here so often, is to ensure that they can maintain their viability against Indian cost structures. Do consider the implications of that folks and how far we've come when the US and Russians are forced to work together to be competitive against us!
**Different perspectives of course. The Mil/Sec types think weapons are the most important thing. The long term policy types, who don't take the idea of a conflict/nuclear-war between the West and India terribly seriously, were focused on this issue.
1. This may all go pear-shaped if we make the "LCA mistake".
i.e. We're determined to do our own thing - the US/West and Russians have an interest in making sure they have a stake in things but *also* trying like hell to make sure their lead doesn't evaporate. To avoid the "LCA mistake", I hope like hell we're not to be in a situation that the LCA project was in after POK 2.
One reason for confidence is that our nuke tech base is orders of magnitude more advanced than our aeronautical production, design and industrial base. More importantly, we're independent in all tech areas.
But . . .
2. We're in the proto stages of a de facto alliance with the US. I don't see how anyone can know where that's going or whether its to our benefit. My instinct is like JUmrao's "keep at a safe distance". But with this agreement, it's hard to say what "safe distance" is.
3. Re. Oz Uranium:
I can tell you folks this (heck, I can almost guarantee it
): The only way to prevent Oz uranium going to India would be if someone set up a blockade to sink all Oz ships taking ore to India - in which case Oz will line up people on the coast and hurl handfuls of ore towards us if they have to.
Oz understands the new world coming into being quite well. Far better than the Euro runts, who huddle in their little collective dog pack and bark loudly at us. Oz doesn't have a dog pack to cover it. Quite the opposite. It has to put up with a lot of local mutts barking at it! And Big Massa is only useful for a limited set of serious issues. Not for harrasment like the Euro mutts do.
Oz does, however, have an H&D issue - a little like Pakees really.
So of course, we still have to play the game. Therefore little brown folks from India will politely ask Massa sidekick to sell us Uranium - Massa sidekick will play hard to get for a while and pretend they actually have some power to force us to agree to their terms. Then they'll agree.
Admittedly this will grate with some jingo folks . . . so we'll just file that away for a future reference . . . but we'll get their yellowcake