Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Reif and Tomero: New Delhi's Nuclear Gains

The Center’s Kingston Reif and Leonor Tomero had a terrific letter to the editor published in today’s Wall Street Journal that refutes several claims about the U.S.-India nuclear deal. The full letter is provided below.

New Delhi's Nuclear Gains
July 30, 2008

In "A Civil Nuclear Power" (July 21), M.R. Srinivasan makes a number of arguments about the U.S.-India nuclear deal that do not withstand close scrutiny.

First, on the issue of nuclear testing, there is nothing in either the India-specific safeguards agreement or the 123 agreement that says nuclear trade with India will cease if India conducts a nuclear test. Moreover, both agreements support India's efforts to develop a "strategic reserve" of nuclear fuel to guard against any disruption of supply, even if that disruption is caused by India's resumption of nuclear testing. These provisions fail to uphold key conditions of U.S. law contained in the Hyde Act that Congress passed in 2006.

Second, the claim that the deal would have no impact on India's nuclear weapons production capacity doesn't comport with the statements of key Indian officials. As a former head of India's National Security Advisory Board puts it, "it is to India's advantage to categorize as many power reactors as possible as civilian ones to be refueled by imported uranium and conserve our native uranium fuel for weapons grade plutonium production."

Finally, the deal will not help India meet its burgeoning energy needs. Even with the deal, nuclear power is not expected to exceed 8-9% of India's total electrical capacity through 2032. Instead the United States should encourage and assist India with efforts to burn coal more cleanly, devise better energy efficiency and conservation programs, modernize and expand its grid and develop decentralized renewable energy resource generation.

Kingston Reif and Leonor Tomero
Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation

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