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  • Australia Likely to Review Ban on Uranium Sales to India

    A continuation of Australia’s ban on the sale of uranium to India is likely to hinder the goal of building a strategic partnership and exploring complementarities in the defence and maritime domain.

    July 06, 2011

    India’s NSG Membership

    Under the November 2010 statement issued by India and the United States, India is committed to take only one step: harmonizing its export controls with those of all the four multilateral export controls regimes.

    June 18, 2011

    India’s Membership of the NSG: Possible Options

    This Brief elaborates the principles that need to be followed to evolve a criteria-based approach to enable India to join the NSG as a full member and contribute materially and substantially to a future non-proliferation regime that will be acceptable to the international community as a whole.

    June 16, 2011

    Fukushima Crisis Triggers Debate on the Future of Nuclear Energy

    The increasing debate after the Fukushima crisis has undermined the recent renaissance of nuclear power and is likely to usher in greater regulation and stringent safety measures, making alternative sources of energy cheaper and therefore more appealing.

    June 06, 2011

    Non-Proliferation Lobby Analysts Seek to Corner India on CTBT

    To resolve the challenge posed by the NPT criteria, the best solution would be to amend the NPT and accommodate India as a nuclear weapon state.

    June 03, 2011

    25 years after Chernobyl, the nuclear debate at a dead end

    The battle of numbers and figures between supporters and opponents of nuclear energy has not only been a major obstacle to a better debate about the pros and cons of nuclear energy, but it has also prevented the development of better contingency plans after Chernobyl.

    May 24, 2011

    Abdul Rahman asked: Is Nuclear Revolution a benefit or harm?

    Sasikumar Shanmugasundaram replies: The meaning of nuclear revolution has clearly impressed the security studies community while the judgement of its utility has not. Bernard Brodie’s (1946) first analysis of nuclear revolution still remains an oft quoted phrase: “Thus far the chief purpose of our military establishment has been to win wars. From now on its chief purpose must be to avert them.” Brodie’s analysis was refined and perfected by scholars like Michael Mandelbaum, Thomas Schelling, Robert Jervis, Kenneth Waltz, and Stephen Van Evera, among others. Nuclear revolution as the result of mutual vulnerability therefore still remains an impressive theoretical logic. However, like any debate on the social adaptation to technology, the evaluation of the effects of nuclear revolution is strongly debated both among scholars and policy makers. Therefore, the benefit or harm of nuclear revolution has to be contextualized.

    Scholars of defensive realist camp believe that nuclear revolution is a benefit because it creates a degree of security and precludes self-defeating expansionist policies. Proponents of offensive realism would, however, argue that nuclear revolution cannot stop a state’s incentive to accumulate power. Constructivists would contend that the success or failure of nuclear revolution depends on the social context through which it is interpreted. And finally critical theorists/ post-modernists would argue that the meaning of nuclear revolution depends on complex power relations in world politics. Moving from the ivory tower to the ground, multitudes of opinion still remain. The United States would contend that the risk of nuclear confrontation (between States) has reduced but the risk of nuclear attack (by terrorists) has increased. Therefore, capitalizing the effects of nuclear revolution against responsible nuclear weapons states and simultaneously augmenting conventional forces against terrorists or rogue states has been its security policy. North Korea, on the other hand, would continue to advertise confidence on its own nuclear deterrent, engaging with, although not explicating, the ideas of nuclear revolution. For India the benefits of nuclear revolution vis-a-vis China is very different from the complexities it generates vis-a-vis Pakistan. For Israel, China or Pakistan, even a robust nuclear arsenal cannot reduce the security competition with their adversaries.

    The question whether nuclear revolution is a benefit or harm therefore has to be contextualized. Future transformation of the nuclear era might enable more patterns of evaluation of the question which annihilation would obviously confirm.

    Japan Continues to Battle Fukushima Nuclear Crisis

    After the threat level for the Fukushima plant was raised from 5 to 7, Japan’s claims about the situation getting stabilised are being received with a degree of scepticism.

    April 18, 2011

    Why India should retain its No-First-Use policy?

    Since there is no evidence to suggest that the expansion of Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile has degraded India’s retaliatory capability, India should retain its no-first-use doctrine.

    April 11, 2011

    Bharath Kumar asked: Considering the fact our bridge fell off during CWG without EQ (and Bhopal), I am curious about the safety of nuclear facilities? All good?

    A. Vinod Kumar replies: It is natural to be curious and concerned about safety of our civil nuclear energy facilities, in the light of the Japanese tragedy. I will also not call it unfair to compare it with the mishaps during the CWG constructions and the Bhopal tragedy. For such events reflect the national culture in constructing and maintaining national assets and how much of commitment and accountability is followed on their establishment. Hence, the worries on nuclear energy facilities are genuine and need to be addressed by the government before we plunge into our contribution to the nuclear energy renaissance.

    Yet, despite all what we need to be worried about, our nuclear energy infrastructure has been amazingly robust, reliable and durable. A reason why this could be affirmatively claimed is the environment in which the nuclear energy infrastructure came up. The questioner might recall that for most part of our nuclear energy development years, we were at the receiving end of technology control regimes, like the NSG. While proliferation concerns were cited as reason why we were kept outside, besides the fact that we didn’t sign the NPT, another inherent element was the questions regarding our ability to ‘safely’ run the nuclear infrastructure. This was more of a western prejudice on most third world countries. Hence, even when we developed an indigenous nuclear energy infrastructure like Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR), the DAE stressed that we adhere to the best practices and standards of safety. And that culture has been followed as a sacrosanct value ever since.

    A case in example is the Tsunami onslaught on Kalpakkam in December 2004. Unlike in Fukushima where the power units to run the coolant systems were perilously close to sea, and hence vulnerable to tidal surges, our power units in Kalpakkam are reportedly secured at a height of 15 meters, sufficiently away from the sea. Not many might recall that a whole housing colony for Kalpakkam employees were wiped out by the Tsunami, but yet our reactor and the power units were intact thanks to such measures.
    Hence, even while we conceive ourselves as a corrupt nation without accountability on national assets and infrastructure, this is one example to show how we might be more progressive then even many western countries on safety and security. Of course, the Bhopal tragedy might have been an eye-opener which our planners took seriously while planning other national assets. That tragedy also very well reflects in our Nuclear Liability Bill in which, much to chagrin of western suppliers, we have made long-term provisions to make even the suppliers accountable to any mishaps in nuclear facilities.