Indian nuclear exceptionalism

Ali Raza

IN 1945, United States used Nagasaki and Hiroshima, two major cities of Japan, as testing labs for nuclear weapons- leading WW-II to an end. When world community witnessed disastrous consequences of nuclear weapon use in a conventional warfare, it became need of the hour to restrict other states from acquiring these lethal weapons. After the use of atomic weapon, entire world and U.S., in particular, realised that atomic weapons are most lethal and catastrophic, in fact it is inhumane to use these weapons against civilian targets. The then US President Eisenhower coined the idea of Atom for Peace which subsequently paved the way towards global peaceful usage of nuclear technology. Realizing the catastrophic effects of atomic weapon, the U.S. President Eisenhower in 1953 coined historic slogan of Atoms for Peace”. The prime agenda associated with the atoms for peace program was to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy rather than use of nuclear technology for weapon purposes in order to make the world better and safer place to live and equip almost all the nations to utilize benefits of nuclear energy.
It was considerably striking idea for the world to attain benefits from the nuclear energy because the only goal was to help developing countries produce electricity and conduct basic research in nuclear engineering. Whereas, moral obligations were vested with this plan that any state which will receive assistance in terms of nuclear technology under this plan will only use that assistance for peaceful purposes not for military purposes. Under the umbrella of Atoms for Peace Plan India built two research reactors Apsara and Cirus with the cooperation of U.K. and Canada. Later on India overruled all the moral obligations and ridiculed the idea of President Eisenhower in fact it betrayed the actual spirit of the Atoms for Peace Plan and conducted its first nuclear test on 18 May 1974 under the codename Smiling Buddha.
It is a recognized fact that track record of India’s nuclear weapon program is based on betrayal. Therefore, after the acquisition of nuclear weapon by India the world became more unsafe and the basic agenda of President Eisenhower’s plan was compromised. India’s diversion of peaceful nuclear technology to weapons development was a slap over the serious concerns and reservations of the policy makers and nuclear scientists who long feared the disastrous impacts of the nuclear weapon. Recent visit of President of the French Republic, Mr. Emmanuel Macron has made significant collaboration with India in different sectors including Strategic Partnership, Economics, Educational, Science & Technology, Cultural & People to People Cooperation, Partnership for the planet and Expanding Global Strategic Convergences.
Every area which is being encompassed under this partnership has its own complexities and drawbacks. Whereas, there is a number of serious concerns attached with the area of strategic partnership. This provision of the strategic partnership must be the point of concern for international community. Under strategic partnership in pursuance of 2008 Agreement on the Development of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy between India and France has concluded the Industrial Way Forward Agreement between NPCIL and EDF, for the implementation of six nuclear power reactor units at Jaitapur. According to the locals, area which has been designated for the construction of power reactors is one of the highly seismically active areas of India. Proposed area will also severely affect the livelihoods of thousands of locals. Realizing the harmful impact of these nuclear power reactors without any comprehensive safety layout, protests had also been reported against this project in Jaitapur. An umbrella organisation for groups fighting the project “Jan Hakka Seva Samiti” President Satyajit Chavan said “What the government is doing now is ridiculous. If the DAE wants to inspect functional Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR), they should have placed this demand before giving environmental clearance. This only proves how badly the whole project was designed”.
Protests clearly depict that inhabitants of Jaitapur are extremely concerned about the project and aware about the fact that this project may turn into a nuclear disaster like Fukushima. On the other hand, Indian government has kept mum over the concerns expressed by the locals and this also illustrates that Indian government does not care for the interest of its own population. Therefore, if a state is unable to address the reservations of its own population then how will it care for the international norms and values of international community? It’s more likely that India will not abide by the moral obligations.
Alarming factor is that in the garb of peaceful uses of nuclear technology India acutely ridiculed the spirit of Atoms for Peace Plan and committed a historical blunder by using plutonium out of civilian reactor to build nuclear weapons. Therefore, Indo-French nuclear cooperation is a glimpse of atoms for peace plan, again India is receiving assistance in terms of peaceful purposes and more likely India will repeat the same horrible and unethical episode and whole world along with India’s next episode of nuclear proliferation. International community must step into stop illicit use of nuclear technology in India. Foreign nuclear assistance to India in nuclear domain has freed India’s domestic resources for the nuclear weapons developments. India is seeking for the foreign nuclear assistance to make more bombs from domestic resources. As several reports points out, India is the only nuclear power which has largest stocks of unsafeguarded uranium resources. It is up to international community to analyse whether India needs foreign nuclear assistance particularly when it has largest unsafeguarded nuclear material.
— The writer is a visiting faculty member at Air University, Islamabad.

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