11 March 2006

What are we going to do with so much power?

India can now import nuclear fuel and technology, thanks to President Bush’s go-ahead signal. The question is: What are we going to do with so much nuclear power? Well, the whole world’s looking for the answer to that question too. But, right now, India is too busy living out an euphoric dream to give a proper answer to the world.

I say ‘proper answer’ because, I believe, no matter what India’s answer is to the world, the world is unlikely to take India at face value. And why is that? Simply because the world is not ready for another nuclear power. North Korea has already told everyone to get lost, and Iran seems to be talking a similar language. No one is happy about this. So, why add another ‘doubtful’ member to the list?

But, why should the world doubt India at all? We do not support terrorism. In fact, we have resolved to fight it. We have never broken any laws on weapons-making. Nor have we declared war on any country, in spite of serious differences with some of our neighbours. We are a peacefiul and responsible democracy. We need nuclear power to support our fast-growing energy needs. Faced with a similar problem, every developed and/or developing nation has – or has tried to – follow this route.

So, is India’s story so simple? The world thinks not. Both India and the US are under heavy criticism. Here’s an excerpt from an editorial from The Economist which voices a few of the world's concerns:

“By allowing it to import nuclear fuel for its civilian reactors, America will be directly easing the bottlenecks in its weapons programme (bizarrely, also agreeing to keep up fuel supplies even if India breaks America's other anti-proliferation laws, as some of its companies have in the past). Worse, India's experimental fast-breeder reactor programme, ideally suited to produce plutonium for warheads though previously claimed to be for civilian purposes, is to be exempted from all safeguards. That will allow India in future to produce scores of weapons a year, not just a handful.”

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