Nuclear Diplomacy and Disarmament

Little progress since years after Indo-US nuclear deal

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), IAEA

Mains level : India's nunclear energy programme

Other than the imported Russian-built reactor-based project in Tamil Nadu, which is grandfathered under an earlier 1998 agreement, progress of greenfield projects since the Indo-US nuclear deal has been tardy.

Indo-US Nuclear Deal

  • The deal was signed in 2008 jointly by then Indian PM Dr. Manmohan Singh and then US President George Bush.
  • India agreed to separate its civil and military nuclear facilities and to place all its civil nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.
  • In exchange, the United States agreed to work toward full civil nuclear cooperation with India.
  • The implementation of this waiver made India the only known country with nuclear weapons which is not a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) but still allowed to carry out global nuclear commerce.

Q. In India, why are some nuclear reactors kept under “IAEA Safeguards” while others are not? (CSP 2020)

(a) Some use Uranium and others use thorium.

(b) Some use imported uranium and others use domestic supplies.

(c) Some are operated by foreign enterprises and others are operated by domestic enterprises.

(d) Some are State-owned and others are privately-owned.

 

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Implementation not in spirit

  • The US has been discussing the sale of nuclear reactors to India since the 2008 pact, two subsequent agreements were signed only in 2016 and 2019.
  • A “project proposal” to set up six reactors in collaboration with Westinghouse Electric Company (WEC) has been announced, but work is yet to begin.
  • WEC, alongside Wilmington-based GE Hitachi Nuclear, has been negotiating to build reactors in India since the nuclear deal was inked.
  • The project, however, came under a cloud after WEC filed for bankruptcy in mid-2017 following cost overruns on reactors coming up in the US.
  • The GE Hitachi project has barely made any progress.

Back2Basics: Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

  • NPT, is an international treaty whose objective is:
  1. to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology,
  2. to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and
  3. to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament
  • Between 1965 and 1968, the treaty was negotiated by a Committee on Disarmament, an UN-sponsored organization based in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • The treaty defines nuclear-weapon states as those that have built and tested a nuclear explosive device before 1 January 1967; these are the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China.
  • Four UN member states have never accepted the NPT, three of which possess or are thought to possess nuclear weapons: India, Israel, and Pakistan.
  • In addition, South Sudan, founded in 2011, has not joined.
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