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The Indo – US Nuclear Deal

Facts about it, you should know.

No other international agreement has ever created as much ruckus as the Indo – US 123 Agreement has. All hell seems to have broken loose after the agreement was signed, with critics and supporters neither mincing words nor punches. The Central Government finds itself in dire straits and may not be able to survive the storm the agreement has generated.

So, what is 123 all about? Well, here is it for you.

What exactly are 123 Agreement and Hyde’s Act?

123 Agreement refers to agreements the US signs with other countries, which are governed by the Section 123 of United States Atomic Energy Act of 1954.

Hyde’s Act or the ‘‘Henry J. Hyde United States- India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act of 2006’’ is another Act of US Congress which sets up Specific conditions for nuclear cooperation between US and India. So, it is an India – specific Act in addition to the Section 123.

What is there in it for India?

If India completes it formalities then over a period of 20yrs US will sell India for $100 Billion, 27 nuclear reactors each of which will produce 1000 MW of electricity. US will also sell India the fuel to run them.

If we don’t sign the agreement, will we really miss the “Nuclear bus”?

The basic question, often forgotten, is that is there really a “nuclear bus”? Nuclear energy came into prominence during the 1970’s when there was insecurity over fuel price and supply from the Middle East. However it was soon realized that Nuclear Energy is not clean energy and since the 1980’s there has been an active movement against it. Nuclear disasters like the 3 Mile Island Disaster in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986 underlined the horrors of a nuclear reactor going wrong. Nuclear waste takes 10,000 to 25,000 years to disintegrate! Infact, most of the countries are moving away from Nuclear energy and in the last 20yrs the number of new reactors coming up has shown a sharp decline. Of the 22 new Nuclear Plants under construction in 2006, 7 are in India, 4 in China and 3 in Russia. Not a single new Nuclear Plant is coming up in US. So, there is no nuclear bus and if there ever was a nuclear bus, as of now all its tires are punctured and it is not going anywhere.

Can India do without 27000 MW of Nuclear Energy? Will it not affect our growth?

As Mr. P. Chidambaram pointed out in a written statement in Parliament recently, India has the potential to produce 45,000 MW of Wind Power and 6,00,000 MW of Solar Power. Unfortunately, the technology is not yet developed enough to tap the entire potential But technology is growing in leaps and bounds and the 20yrs required to install 27 Nuclear Reactors, can see technology develop enough to tap the entire 6,00,000 MW of India’s Solar Energy potential. And if the Government spent the $100 Billion it plans to buy the reactors with, into developing Solar Energy, we would reach that state sooner rather than later. And this would be without compromising our dignity and independence and with the added satisfaction of using Green Electricity.

Even the Wind Potential of India can produce double the power what any 123 deal can ever produce.

US has signed 123 agreements with 23 other Countries, why should India have problems with it?

Till date the US has entered into 23 such agreements with various countries. The agreement which India has signed is fundamentally different from that signed by other countries in the following major ways:
  1. India is the only country, nuclear relations with which are also governed in the US by a country specific law, i.e. Hyde’s Act.
  2. Article 2 (1) of 123 agreement states that National Laws will prevail over the International Treaty: “The Parties shall cooperate in the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement. Each Party shall implement this Agreement in accordance with its respective applicable treaties, national laws, regulations, and license requirements concerning the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.” India has no national laws governing its nuclear relations with foreign countries, while US has the Hyde’s Act. This clause, not found in any other 123 Acts the US has signed with other countries, is unique in that it places national laws above International treaties, which is never the case in International Diplomacy. Further because of primacy of national laws, what prevents the US from making new National Laws and applying them on India, as it did in 1978 over Tarapur?
  3. 123 Agreements between US and other countries elapse in 30yrs, while the one with India is for posterity!
  4. Creation of a tribunal to sort out disputes is present in all 123 agreements except the one with India, relying instead on vague statement of open ended negotiations.

What is wrong with Hyde’s Act?

If you do not have the time to go through the entire 28 page Hyde’s Act, here are some clippings for you:-
  • Sec 102 (6)(b): “it is in the interest of the United States to enter into an agreement for nuclear cooperation arranged pursuant to section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (42 U.S.C. 2153) with a country that has never been a State Party to the NPT if— o (B) the country has a functioning and uninterrupted democratic system of government, has a foreign policy that is congruent to that of the United States, and is working with the United States on key foreign policy initiatives related to nonproliferation;
  • Sec 103 (b)(4): “Secure India’s full and active participation in United States efforts to dissuade, isolate, and, if necessary, sanction and contain Iran
  • Sec 103 (b)(7): “encourage India not to increase its production of fissile material at unsafe guarded nuclear facilities.”
  • Sec 104 (c)(2)(D): “a description of the steps that the United States has taken and will take to encourage India to identify and declare a date by which India would be willing to stop production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.”
  • Sec 104(c)(2)(G): “A description and assessment of the specific measures that India has taken to fully and actively participate in United States and international efforts to dissuade, isolate ,and, if necessary, sanction and contain Iran”
  • Sec 104(g)(1) : “The President shall keep the appropriate congressional committees fully and currently informed of the facts and implications of any significant nuclear activities of India, including— (B) the construction of a nuclear facility in India after the date of the enactment of this title; (C) significant changes in the production by India of nuclear weapons or in the types or amounts of fissile material produced; (E)(i) an assessment of whether India is fully and actively participating in United States and international efforts to dissuade, isolate, and, if necessary, sanction and contain Iran”

To Summarize:

India can make much more power than that envisaged under the 123 Agreement if it taps it’s Non-conventional Energy Sources without compromising its independence and sovereignty. At a time when Nuclear Power is being phased out all over the world, why should India go on its knees to ask for it? Why is there emphasis on import of nuclear reactors from the US? Why can’t the US give us the technology and let us build them ourselves, if we must. Why the Government should commits India to subservience for posterity for something which the country does not need. If you agree with this argument, please speak up. Maybe some voices will reach the ears of people who matter.

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From: C.M.Joshi
Dear Dr. Saheb, I had been reading on the so called Nuke Deal for quite sometime, but the clarity and lucidity with which you have presented the entire issue, is commendable.A lot of water has already flown under the bridge and our fate has already been sealed on July 22, 2008.I really wonder what can save us from the disastrous document. With regards, Chandrakant Joshi.

From: B Upendera
Me 2 think Megha is right. There must be big money changing hands under the table.

From: Megha Rawat
You are absolutely right. That we are bent upon importing ready made reactors at 100billion $ makes me smell a Bofors!