Journalist | Writer | Analyst
In his address to the 52nd General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Dr. Anil Kakodkar drew attention to a little noticed spin-off of the Nuclear Supplier Group’s recent decision to open the doors of nuclear cooperation with India:
Mr. President, this has been a remarkable year for India in the field of nuclear energy. The approval by consensus of the Agreement for the Application of Safeguards to Civilian Nuclear Facilities by the IAEA Board of Governors on 1st August, 2008 (GOV/2008/30), and the Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation issued by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (INFCIRC/734) on 6th September, 2008 have created conditions for India to make an even bigger contribution to the growth of international civil nuclear cooperation…
While development of such cooperation will contribute to the strengthening of India’s energy security, India is also looking forward to enhance its assistance to friendly countries. India has an ongoing programme on 220 MWe PHWRs, a reactor system that is competitive in terms of capital costs, safety performance and unit energy cost. This system is well suited to the needs of countries with small electricity grids, especially those in the developing world.
Such safeguarded exports were never prohibited by either the NSG or NPT but the NSG’s sanctions meant most small countries with grids that fit the bill like Thailand or Viet Nam were reluctant to go against the grain of the cartel’s basic intention of isolating India.
India, I believe, is the only supplier with such small reactors at such a competitive cost. The only trouble: they are pressurised heavy water reactors, considered by most non-proliferationists (including in the Bush administration) to be bad from the proliferation point of view. If the NSG were ever to adopt a rule banning their sale, India, which has committed to adherence to NSG guidelines, will find itself in a quandary.