So, India and the US got exactly what they wanted at the weekend. The 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) gave India permission to join the nuclear club without all the fuss of having to first sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The scramble is now on to sell India nuclear technology. Despite the many instances of nuclear energy’s leaks, accidents, cost and schedule overruns, and failures to live up to its promises to be cheap, safe and clean, India is intent on repeating the nuclear mistakes made all over the world. The US government must now hurry to ratify the NSG’s decision in Congress in order that American companies can join the gold rush. France’s Areva and Russia’s Rosatom are already in the lead and with the Bush Administration in its last days time is tight.
It all goes to show how countries are willing to double their standards or throw them away all together at the first smell of hard cash. Why are the US so keen to allow India nuclear technology without it signing the NPT if not in the hope of grabbing a slice of that hugely lucrative market? Iran is a signatory to the NPT and yet the US and the wider global community are determined to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
India has given non-proliferation assurances outside the NPT but questions must be asked just how binding these assurances are and what happens in the event of India electing a less friendly government in the future. One of the reasons India gives for not signing the treaty is that it borders China and its nuclear arsenal.
This looks a lot little like a bunch of kids jealous about each others toys. If only we made our governments behave as well as our children. If we were truly interested in high standards of global behaviour, we’d send China and India - and all other countries with nuclear weapons for that matter - to their rooms without any supper.
The best part of this story is that it was because of India that the NSG was formed in the first place – in 1974 in response to India testing a nuclear weapon that year. And here it is 34 years later giving that same nation the nuclear go ahead without binding international commitments. But that’s nuclear power for you. Treaties are enforced except when they’re not. One country’s word is good enough while another’s isn’t. Money trumps everything else.
So, countries can sell India everything it needs for its own ‘nuclear renaissance’. It says it ‘remains committed to a voluntary, unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing.’ But what happens if India decides to resume nuclear testing or proliferate nuclear technology? Nobody really knows – the agreement passed this weekend has nothing to say on those matters. India isn’t signed up to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty either. The US, France, Russia and others have their fingers crossed as they count the cash.