L’India scommette sul futuro nucleare

  • In settembre India ha sorpreso votando mozione IAEA di condanna del programma nucleare dell’Iran.
  • La ragione è di non far saltare accordo con USA, che prevede la
    fornitura di tecnologie nucleari e uranio per grosso programma di
    costruzione centrali nucleari (fino a 40).
  • India non ha firmato il Trattato di Non-Proliferazione; si è fatta la bomba e l’ha sperimentata violandolo, e subendo sanzioni.
  • L’accordo con USA prevede che India confermi la moratoria degli
    esperimenti nucleari, e di sottoporre gli impianti civili ai controlli
    IAEA, ma non dovrà aprire le installazioni militari alle ispezioni,
    solo separarli da impianti civili. L’accordo non riduce la capacità di
    produrre bombe.
  • Per USA è grossa svolta, rispetto a linea di non-proliferazione. Vi è opposizione in Congresso USA.
  • Anche in India partiti di sinistra criticano la posizione sull’Iran. L’accordo è sostenuto dalla lobby nucleare.
  • India ha capacità installata di 120 mila MW, insufficiente; per
    tenere il passo con crescita PIL del 7% annuo, dovrebbe costruire
    centrali per altri 90 mila MW entro il 2012.
  • Attualmente ha 15 reattori nucleari + 7 in costruzione. Secondo
    il direttore di Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd. l’accordo con USA
    permetterebbe di costruire 40 centrali in 15 anni
  • (Cina ha 10 centrali nucl. e prevede la costruzione di 30 in 15 anni).

Backing Probe of Iran Draws Closer Look At New Delhi’s Ambitions


November 4, 2005; Page A12

MUMBAI — India’s surprise decision to
side with the U.S. in pushing to investigate Iran’s nuclear activities has
thrown the spotlight on another ambitious and controversial nuclear program:
its own

In September, India supported a resolution
passed by the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency alleging Iran had
engaged in "a policy of concealment" in its nuclear program
— a move that paved the way for the IAEA to refer the matter to
the United Nations Security Council, where Tehran could face economic

India’s decision angered the Congress
party-led government’s left-wing coalition allies
, which oppose a tilt
toward Washington. Moreover, it struck energy and foreign-policy experts as
counterproductive, as New Delhi has been pushing for closer ties with Iran
whose vast oil and gas reserves it considers crucial to the subcontinent’s
energy security.
But Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s
government is focused on bigger stakes: preserving a pact negotiated with
the U.S. to provide technology to India’s atomic-power industry and allow it to
import foreign uranium supplies for its reactors.
New Delhi’s pro-U.S.
stance on Iran has demonstrated how far it is prepared to go to foster nuclear
energy, and re-ignited domestic debate on the feasibility of nuclear power. The
pro-nuclear lobby
views it as key to India’s energy security, while
antinuclear activists say it offers false hope.

The preliminary deal, signed in July in
Washington, could help remedy India’s chronic energy shortages by opening the
way to build dozens of new nuclear-power plants, say pro-nuclear
advocates in India and the U.S.
The U.S. nuclear deal — details of which are
still being negotiated — could have unraveled if New Delhi had refused to
back the IAEA resolution
, Indian officials and security analysts say. The
resolution alleged that Iran’s failure to suspend its uranium enrichment
activities violated its obligations as a signatory of the nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty, a global accord signed by 187 countries that was
initiated in 1970 to slow the spread of nuclear weapons. But the resolution stopped
short of referring Iran to the Security Council
. A decision on whether to
take that step is expected at the next IAEA board meeting on Nov. 24.

"Given the choice, I think India will
choose the U.S. over Iran
," says Brahma Chellaney, a defense
specialist at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi.
The U.S. nuclear agreement is considered
vital to New Delhi’s long-term aim of tripling nuclear-power output to
20,000 megawatts by 2020
. U.S. companies such as Westinghouse Electric Co.,
a subsidiary of U.K.-based British Nuclear Fuels PLC, and General Electric Co.
provide technology for many of the world’s nuclear-power plants.
India’s refusal to sign the
Nonproliferation Treaty has barred it from most transfers of nuclear technology
and fuel. The U.S. agreement opens the way for this trade with other
nuclear-capable nations
, too, if Washington can
persuade them to agree to its terms.
The agreement hinges on congressional
ratification, which might not come easily. Senior Republicans have already
expressed anger
that the administration of President George W. Bush sealed
the July deal after months of secret negotiations, without the involvement of
It came under attack, too, from
nonproliferation experts testifying during hearings at the House International
Relations Committee on Oct. 26. Robert Einhorn, a former U.S. assistant
secretary of state for nonproliferation in the Clinton administration,
testified that the agreement only requires India to reaffirm existing
commitments like a nuclear-test moratorium, and has "has no effect on
India’s ability to continue producing fissile material for nuclear


India currently has electricity-generating
capacity of 120,000 megawatts, chiefly from coal-fueled power stations. But
peak power demand exceeded supply by 12%
in the year ended March 31. In a
recent report, consultant McKinsey & Co. said India needs to add 90,000
megawatts of power by 2012 just to sustain economic growth at its current pace
of about 7% a year.


"Without access to nuclear energy,
there’s no way India can meet that target," says Ashley Tellis, a senior
associate at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,
and a strong supporter of sharing nuclear know-how with India.
India already has one of Asia’s biggest
atomic-power industries, with 15 nuclear reactors and seven more under
using limited supplies of local
uranium that can fuel its current reactors but can’t sustain a larger program.
That puts it in the same league as China, which has 10 reactors and plans an
additional 30 over the next 15 years
.Under the July agreement, Washington promised
to seek changes in U.S. law and international rules governing atomic programs
to permit exports of foreign nuclear equipment and technology to India. In
return, India would have to submit its civilian nuclear facilities to IAEA
safeguards. New Delhi wouldn’t be required to open its military nuclear
installations to inspections, but it must separate them from civilian programs
and continue a self-imposed moratorium on bomb-testing
The deal was a sharp reversal of U.S.
: To date, such terms have been given only to nations that have
agreed to controls enshrined in the Nonproliferation Treaty. India has been
cut off from supplies of nuclear material and technology since it tested an
atomic device in 1974
In 1998, the U.S. imposed economic sanctions
— since removed — after India detonated five nuclear devices in tests that
prompted a confrontation with Pakistan and sparked fears of a regional
nuclear-arms race.

S.K. Jain, the
managing director of the Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd., a government
agency that oversees nuclear-power generation, believes the U.S. deal will
allow India to build 40 new reactors over the next 15 years
. "We are a
net energy-importing country," he says. "So we have no option but to
explore [nuclear] energy."
Still, the deal with Washington has opponents
in India as well in the U.S. For example, domestic critics argue that
nuclear power won’t offset dependence on imported oil
— the biggest item
on India’s energy-import bill — since most of the imported crude is refined
into petroleum products to fuel vehicles.
"The idea of nuclear power being a
sustainable energy form in India is nonsense," says Praful Bidwai, a
writer and antinuclear activist based in New Delhi.
But it is the possible impact of the U.S.
pact on India’s nuclear-weapons programs that has some American experts
worried. These critics are concerned that India will be able to shield much
of its bomb-making nuclear facilities from international inspections.

India, says Mr. Jain, has four reactors under IAEA safeguards. But critics
point out that hasn’t stopped India from making bombs.
"Unless we can get India to halt fissile
production, what we are in effect doing is egging on the worst of the
[political] actors in India to make more bombs
," says Henry
, the executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education
Center in Washington.
Both governments want to nail down the
agreement quickly. Nicholas Burns, the U.S. undersecretary of state for
political affairs, visited India in late October for talks with senior Indian
officials. New Delhi says it wants a breakthrough before President Bush visits
India early next year.

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