NEW DELHI: India would not like the exemption agreement with the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to contain any reference to nuclear testing or the right of return of equipment [in the eventuality of a test] as otherwise the civil nuclear deal will not be “able to move forward.”
“The U.S. has clearly assured us assistance in getting the exemption from NSG that will end India’s isolation from nuclear commerce. We do not want any reference to any consequence of testing or any reference to right of return of material. If these issues come up India would not be able to move forward,” said Atomic Energy Commission member M.R. Srinivasan told The Hindu.
Pointing out that while U.S. laws on the issue were more stringent than those of other countries, Dr. Srinivasan said he expected the latter procedure to be reflected in the NSG India-specific safeguards. He said Russia and France recognised the right to reprocess and he did not expect it to be any “emotional problem” while negotiating with the NSG.
Dr. Srinivasan wanted the India-specific safeguards with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to be tailored around INFCRC/66, the facility specific safeguards applicable to Tarapur and Koodankulam plants besides some other reactors. Although the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) signatory countries have accepted full scope safeguards patterned around INFCIRC/153, he felt both sides could agree on an acceptable framework for a group of facilities which was close to the existing India-specific facility safeguards “after some discussions.”
“If these two progress speedily enough and the U.S. processes the clearance with the Congress, the doors will be open for India to partner in international commerce in nuclear technology,” he said. The former AEC Chairman was here to participate in the meeting of the National Security Advisory Board, which deliberated earlier on the issue. In the immediate future, he foresees talks with Russia to set up four more reactors at Koodankulam and with France for a reactor in Ratnagiri district (Maharashtra). The two U.S. companies — GE and Westinghouse — too should not be discounted from the field.
In all, the Indian nuclear industry expects 12 imported reactors of 1,000 MW each to come up by 2020. Besides, the confidence gained from setting up two 540 MW indigenous reactors at Tarapur would enable the setting up of a dozen 700 MW heavy water reactors. Together with the existing capacity of 7,000 MW, the nuclear scientist expected the total capacity from nuclear powered generation to touch 25,000 MW after 13 years. “My hope is that after another 10 years, India should be able to double this capacity to 50,000 MW. In the past we said the isolation gave us the advantage to stand on our feet. That should not be a virtue for all time to come. India will be able to cooperate with other countries with a great measure of confidence in both export and import of technology.”
Clustered on coast
The imported reactors are likely to be clustered around the coast because it would be difficult to move the imported heavy machinery by road to the hinterland. Of the first lot of indigenous 700 MW reactors, the first four could be set up at the existing sites in Kakrapara (Gujarat) and Kota (Rajasthan). The sites at Narora (Uttar Pradesh) and Kaiga (Karnataka) could also accommodate a few more indigenous rectors.