By: Hari Sud
May 04, 2006
expressed here are author’s own and not of this website. Full disclaimer
is at the bottom.
Nuclear issue: Indian media is silent about it
End of The Indo-US Nuke Deal?
What If India-US Nuclear Deal Fails
USA"s nuclear design on India
Discord on Indo–US Nuclear Deal
Indo-US nuclear Deal and its consequences
N-Deal: Plan B if the Deal Fails
US Legislative Process: Indo-US N-Deal
N-deal: Economic, Political and
Indo-American Nuclear Pact - Rationales
India"s Nuclear Surrender to USA
P-6 and The Nuclear Truth Narayanan
India's Options to Pakistan's Nuclear Threat
Cost Pakistan Incurred to Build the Nuclear Bomb
Nuclear Black Market in Pakistan
Has America Gained Control of Their Nuclear Weapons?
In the Week of March 17th, US Senator Richard Lugar placed a bill in the
US Senate to amend the Atomic Energy Act to let the Indo-US Nuclear deal
become the law and Representative Hyde placed the same bill in the House
of Representatives for passage. Immediately thereafter the bill(s) ran
into a firestorm of opposition, much of which was the work of the US
Nuclear Lobby Group. India was hoping for a quick passage of the bill.
Opposition was determined to stall it. No amount of lobbying by India and
appearance before the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee by the US
negotiators of the deal including Condi Rice changed the mind of the
hardliners in the US Senate and in the Congress. Last appearance by Condi
Rice at this committee did not change any minds. Hence the deal is stuck
at the US Congress. With his low ratings at the polls, President Bush did
not wish to use all his remaining political capital to push the Indo-US
deal. Hence it is now obvious that passage of this bill has been postponed
to the next year. A new Congress, after November 2006 elections, will vote
on this deal.
Does that mean that the above bill's on the US Congress floor are dead?
Not yet, but pretty close. Passage of the above deal with new elected
officials is uncertain. It may still happen, but for India; a Plan B has
to be put in place in case US Congress does not sanction this deal.
What can be the Plan B?
Most Indians Wish to Know – What is the Plan, if the above Deal Fails
There is no published Plan B, should the Indo-US Nuclear deal fail to
clear the US Congress. This deal would have circumvented the arduous
passage of a gas pipeline via Pakistan and over the insurgency infected
Bulochistan area. In addition India’s commercial and military ties with US
would have blossomed. FDI monies would have arrived in India in a big way.
India would have become bulwark of counter balance to now a very
aggressive China. The earlier plan of cheap gas from Iran or Central Asia
had to be put on the back burner. Each would have given Pakistan an iron
clad strangle hold over India’s economy. If the deal were approved then
this would have given India a bit of flexibility to negotiate with Iran
for price and with Pakistan for passage.
For US the deal is a win-win situation. With its approval, the dormant
nuclear industry would have come back to life. Boeing Industries would be
a big winner in terms of additional orders for commercial and military
jets. Merchandise trade between US and India, which today is at about $40
Billions would have doubled in four years. US businesses would reap
greater rewards from cheap but first class IT, BPO and KPO services
Additional environmental benefits with reduced greenhouse gases emissions,
should India produce part of its electricity with eight giant size nuclear
plants, is immense. Pressure on world crude oil prices will be lessened
with lower demand by India. All these are indirect benefits. These are to
be duly considered when the US Congress accepts or rejects this deal.
Choices Before India
Energy needs of India are acute. The matter has already started to hit
harder with Crude Oil prices touching $75 a barrel. About $40-45 Billions
of import this year’s import bill of $145 Billion is Crude Oil. It will be
rising steeply by 2010. Hence, the nuclear option looked very attractive.
Its only dependency is supply of Uranium and technology (at this moment
another dependency has emerged i.e. US Congress approval). With
uncertainty rising, all other options are to be revisited.
India, toady generates about 130,000MW of power from a mix of sources
including Coal, Hydro, Natural Gas, Nuclear and renewable sources. The
supply is about 10 to 12% short of demand. The demand will double in eight
years, so will the shortage. Hence all available energy sources will have
to be reconsidered. The equation has to include possible failure of
Indo-US Nuclear deal.
• Coal as source of Energy
India has roughly 200 Billion tones of coal reserves, of which about half
is recoverable. India mined about 360 million tones of coking and
non-coking coal in 2005. About 66% of India’s power generation is thermal
based. Of which burning coal generates 70 to 80%. Remaining coal
production goes to metallurgy, Industrial and household uses. Coal
consumption in thermal power plants is expected to double in ten years.
That means that greenhouse gases production will also double. Global
warming will be adversely impacted, so will smog and pollution in cities
with added coal usage.
India has on its card seven very large thermal power plants (4,000MW
capacity) with coal as basis under various stages of planning. Half of
these are planned for coastal areas, where imported coal (Australia as
source) will be used. Others are planned as pithead plants, where power
plants are located closer to the mines to reduce shipping expenses. If the
Indo-US deal fails coal may become the only source of energy other than
imported crude oil. Global warming may have to take a back seat in this
• Hydro-Electric Power
About a quarter of India’s power needs are satisfied with hydroelectric
power. These power plants are hydro cum irrigation projects. By year 2002,
almost all the rivers in India, which would permit construction of a dam,
have been dammed. A few of these are partially complete others are in the
planning stage. These power plants have a limitation. They need perennial
rivers and topography, where falling water could be used to generate
electricity. With limits on how much hydropower could be generated,
attention immediately turns to other sources. There is a great advantage
of these projects. These are non-pollutant, and ensure rural prosperity
with water supply to the cultivable land. In last few decades high water
table has emerged as a threat. But this threat can be contained.
Hydropower is no alternative to industrial needs of power. At times
hydropower location and transmission costs make it unprofitable.
• Natural gas
Natural gas in last forty years in the industrialized world has provided
about 15% of power. Canada, US and recipients of North Sea as well as
Russian gas have generated power using Natural Gas. It is the least of the
pollutants of all the fossil fuel. Its supply is abundant, but its usage
is limited to places where large underground reserves exist. In last 30
years, this gas has been piped to hundreds and thousands miles to the
consumers. Russians pipe gas 3,000 miles to the Western Europe. Canada
pipes gas two thousand miles from Alberta fields to the East Coast. The
same is true about US, where gas pipelines crisscross the whole country. A
proposal to pipe gas from Iran to India over 1,500 miles exists. Similarly
a proposal to pipe gas from Central Asia to India exists. This limitless
supply can meet demand for more than one hundred years.
India, until the Indo-US nuclear deal was signed, was dead serious to meet
its energy needs with Iranian gas. The above nuclear deal, took the shine
off this proposal. Although not completely abandoned, yet this proposal in
contingent on the early approval of the nuclear deal by the US Congress.
• Wind, Solar, Hydrogen as sources of energy
All these energy sources on paper appear very good, except these are hard
to implement for mega power generations. In Denmark, local supply of power
for a few towns has been met using wind power. In California, experiments
on using solar power are ongoing for the last 20 years. The Hydrogen power
for automobiles is a joke. But it is an answer of some of the petroleum
companies in North America, who have been accused of not doing enough for
replacing dependency on imported oil. Hydrogen fuel for autos will require
a huge amount of nuclear energy to split water into Hydrogen and Oxygen
and then very expensive storage and delivery system. In India the forgoing
is a non-starters.
• Nuclear Energy
Nuclear energy stands at level with coal and natural gas as a long-range
solution for satisfying everybody’s energy needs. With crude oil at $75 a
barrel, it appears economical to build nuclear power plants. Although US
has not approved a new nuclear power plant for construction for the last
35 years on account of safety concerns. This resistance is bearing thin.
US will approve a proposal to build a large nuclear power plant with
additional safety features in next two to three years. It will be good for
For India, this seemed to be the only alternative. As stated above its
development is also of great strategic value. It will deepen India’s
relationship with the West. The question is whether India asks the West to
supply technology and monies to build these power plants or build it
itself. The latter technology is at an infancy stage. Most of India’s
nuclear power plants, which generate electricity, are of American or
Russian design. India’s own design is a few decades away. That is why
India generates only 2.5% of its electricity using nuclear energy. Compare
to that US generates 21% and France 79% of its electricity using nuclear
energy. The Western technology will not come to India, until a few
ironclad guarantees are ironed out. All these have been provided in the
Indo-US Nuclear deal. Still the deal is a hostage to negative lobbying by
a group of very powerful politicians in the US. Its passage is up in the
India needs this deal. India has to have it by any means. Chyanakya as he
theorized twenty three hundred years back, asked the king to tackle
opposition head on and prevail. He was quite lenient on the issue of
temporary loss of prestige. He implemented his theory by making up with
King Nanda of Magada, temporarily to grab the power and then dismissing
him when the time was right. In this way he united all of India under one
In my opinion, India needs to grab all the nuclear technology; money and
engineering insight from whatever sources it can get and wait until
relevance of these stricter controls is unnecessary. The latter may happen
soon. Iran is about to master nuclear technology. North Korea is right
behind. Pakistan acquired it by hook or by crook, 20 years back. Soon
anybody who wishes and have money will acquire it. Then relevance of
stricter controls will be gone. The forgoing may not happen in next 30
years, but India needs that much time to economically develop itself and
catch up with the West. Controls 30 years hence in the present environment
What is the US Congress Asking for now?
What the current US Congress may ask on top of what has been already been
agreed in the Indo-US Nuclear deal is irrelevant now. The Republicans who
control both houses of US Congress today may loose one or both houses in
coming November elections. The make up of both the houses will be a bit
different come next year. Although some of the stalwarts of both US
political parties may return in the elections, it is uncertain whether
they will be in control. US public is in a punitive mood. They do not like
the Iraq war and may decide to hand down President Bush a Congressional
defeat. Usually when the forgoing happens, the President becomes a lame
duck. Legislative initiative then shifts to the Congress. They may approve
a deal with conditions not palatable to India. A rumbling in both US
Houses is being heard on applying new conditions before the vote. These
include cap on nuclear testing and quantifying credible nuclear
deterrence. These modifications to the original agreement are always hard
to swallow. Americans know that and may find no listeners on Indian side
unless they offer something in return e.g. a nuclear testing cap may be
mutual and credible deterrence weapons instead of being tested in the
field may be tested by simulating in the laboratory. US have that
In my view, Iran-India pipeline is to be built together with the
construction of nuclear power plants. It will ensure flexibility. Coal
should continue to be main source of energy but its increased usage should
be severely curtailed in light of global warming menace. US Congress’s
reluctance to approve or attach new conditions to the Indo-US deal has to
be opposed. Only possible scenario, which may allow acceptance of cap on
nuclear testing by India include a mutual cap in which if US resume
testing then India could do the same. US Congress will find it hard to
reject this scenario. In addition US will offer help to simulate nuclear
testing in the laboratory to keep India’s arsenal in tip top shape, should
any of India’s neighbor decide in nuclear blackmail.
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