A few days ago I watched an interesting debate on CSPAN on the US-India Civilian Nuclear Cooperation programme. India's argument, lead by Dr. V.S Arunachalam, Founder,Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy, was that the nuclear cooperation treaty was critical for India's future energy requirements. The US point of view put forward by Robert Gallucci, Dean, Georgetown University, Foreign Service, stressed on India's non-signing of the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a major hindrance to the process which in their minds meant endangering the 'war on terrorism' as India does not accept international monitoring of its nuclear facilities.The US panel's repeated concern was that there were no guidlines in place in India to prevent the use of nuclear technology from crossing its intended civilian usage to acts of terrorism.
Let's go back a little here.Why had India not signed the NPT?India had argued that the NPT creates a distinction bewteen the "nuclear haves" and "nuclear have-nots" by restricting the legal possession of nuclear weapons to those states that tested them before 1967(US,UK,China,Russia and France). India questions why the treaty never explains on what ethical grounds such a distinction has been made. Also, the 5 Nuclear Power States have undertaken to refrain from using their nuclear weapons against a non-NWS state except in response to a nuclear attack or a conventional attack in party with a NWS.
However, the US and the UK have indicated that they may just go ahead and use nuclear weapons in response to non-nuclear 'weapons of mass destruction'(biological/chemical) attacks from non-NWS states. So the deal is that the NWS states may continue to use nuclear technology for civilian and non-civilian purposes, undermine the principles of the NPT (which are questionable anyway) while the non-NWS states have to try so hard to acquire nuclear technology simply for civilian use.The US with regards to the US-India Civilian Nuclear Cooperation programme, raises concerns about safety. Here is another interesting twist. An ABC News investigation which made headlines all over found huge security lapses around little-known nuclear research reactors on 25 US college campuses.
The investigation which employed under-cover college students found serious lapses such as unmanned guard booths, unlocked doors and guided tours of the control rooms and reactor material providing easy access to radioactive fuel. None of the reactor rooms had metal detectors. What more, you are even allowed to park your car in close proximity to the reactor buildings without anyone checking you for explosives! If such sitting ducks within the country are not a concern of the US government, how does it justify denying countries who have strong cases for using nuclear technology for economic development?..Nomita Das Emailfirstname.lastname@example.org Weblog-http://i-quench.
By: Nomita Das