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APR 08 2013

Nuclear-experts bat for India's membership at NSG

  • Economic Times, ET Bureau / Hyderabad
  • Created: Mon 08th APR 2013

Experts say the membership will help India procure more fuel and nuclear components

Indian nuclear experts have told Business Standard that it is an opportune time for the country to gain membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), despite reservations expressed by China and some smaller European states such as Ireland, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

The experts strongly feel that this would not only help India procure more fuel and nuclear components, but also be an opportunity for the Indian industry to aggressively tap the global market. They said Indias nuclear generation and plant load factor of its 20 nuclear plants have improved after the end of nuclear apartheid. The clean waiver given to India by the NSG enables India to resuscitate its nuclear energy programme without endangering its nuclear deterrent.

"India has put in place an export control regime that is being effectively implemented. During the dialogue with the NSG in 2008, the effectiveness of Indias export control regime was acknowledged by the NSG community. The NSG revises its control lists periodically to keep pace with developments in technology. Decisions in this regard are taken by the NSG through a consultative process involving all members. As a responsible player, it is desirable that India is associated with this decision making process and that will be possible only if India is a member of NSG, Ravi B Grover, Director, Homi Bhabha National Institute (HBNI) told Business Standard.

Grover and the Atomic Energy Commissions former chairman, Anil Kakodkar, were primarily responsible for the success of the Indo-US negotiations that culminated in the 123 agreement signed in July 2007.

Grovers views are shared by distinguished nuclear scientist Surinder Thakur, who says that in order to get the full benefit of international cooperation in the nuclear sector, it is imperative that India be inducted as a member of the NSG. "A large number of inter-governmental agreements for civil nuclear cooperation have been signed and more are in the pipeline. In this context, the benefit is two ways. We have the possibility of import of components, fuel, safety systems and also the entire global market will open for the Indian industry, he said.

G R Srinivasan, former vice chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), opined that India has all the necessary credentials commercial, military and technological which other members have. "The NSG is missing an important member in India. The NSG would certainly need India as its member, especially when the NSGs ground rules have been observed by us both by action and by regulatory framework like export control rules which have been already put in place.

He noted India is following the NSG regime even before formally becoming the member compared with many who are already members.

A retired director of the Nuclear Power Corporation, who did not want to be identified, said it was simply matter of a time. "One day, India will become a member of the NSG. India is following all the necessary practices required to non-proliferate nuclear technology. Our track record is quite good. After becoming an NSG member, India will be in a far better position to obtain new technologies and nuclear material from abroad, he said.

However, A Gopalakrishnan, former chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board did not see any benefit in India joining the NSG. "I do not understand why the UPA government is shamelessly pursuing the issue of being accepted as a member of the NSG, which was formed in the first instance solely to block India from receiving nuclear technologies and equipment. After the pime mnisters assurance in September 2008 that under the NSG exemption then granted, India would receive enrichment & reprocessing (ENR) technologies, the 2012 NSG decision that only NPT (non proliferation treaty) members can receive such technologies is a slap on the face for the UPA. As it stands, there is no benefit in India joining the NSG, Gopalakrishnan said.


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