20 Dec 2007

Why IAEA is such a huge issue in India?

Once there was a time when Mumbai used to come to standstill at the roar of the tiger, Bal Thackeray. But things have not remained the same. A few days back (or even a fortnight), Mumbai halted because of El Baradei. Does that name ring any bells? Or who is he?

Well, he is the chief of the dreaded-word IAEA, which has been amidst the centre point of the ongoing controversy and drama in the Indian parliament. The Left conceptualizes him and the organization he represents as a harbinger, resounding clutches on India's progress. Why? Because he and his organization is at the centre point of the Nuclear Deal which India has signed with the United States. [click here for full list of events.]

Still no clues??? Alright, I will disclose now who he is. He is the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog. And the reason why his organization is dreaded because of the Nuclear deal whereunder India agreed to allow IAEA to supervise its nuclear plants, therefore technically amounting to an external control over hitherto India's foreign-influence-free nuclear policy. This is the biggest reasons for the Left's hue and cry over the issue; that India's freedom has been restricted under the Nuclear deal and its opposition to IAEA.

But is the issue really that big to rock Indian Parliament for more than a quarter-year now??? (since August 03, remember ???) What would be the consequences if the events do lead out to an IAEA supervision on Indian nuclear reactors???

Well, under the terms of the Nuclear deal, India is obliged to use the nuclear materials etc. supplied by US only for non-military purposes (which indirectly means a ban on conducting further tests on nuclear bombs etc.) and in the event India does decide to go with the military uses, the deal would be suspended. But who decides whether India has in fact used the material for non-military purposes. Well, if the IAEA deal goes through, IAEA would be the sole determinant of this.

This would mean that if IAEA says so, India has used the nuclear material for non-military purposes even if it hasn't. The position of IAEA is singular. It reports as a special agency of the United Nations and submits reports, which are acted upon pretty quickly. (Heard about its report on Iran and the later turn of events with the US even threatening about going ahead with an exercise similar to Iraq???)

Then, further, India will be obliged to grant full access and know-how to IAEA officials of its nuclear programme, something out of the ordinary for the Indian nuclear policy. In order to fulfill its mandate, IAEA may even be required to examine the Indian civilian nuclear power plants and so goes off our vision for energy security, the Left and others cry.

So we know what are the costs of this. And proposed benefits??? Well unless India goes on to allow IAEA to have a seat and inspection rights to its nuclear reactors, the Indo-US nuclear deal will not go through. Unless the deal goes through, India will not get uranium and other nuclear-energy assistance required to go ahead with its energy programme. The entire load, therefore, will be on our indigenous energy resources (i.e. coal majorly and to some extent hydro-power), which definitely are not capable enough to meet our present energy needs, forget even contemplating about our future needs.

So what do we do? Say yes to IAEA and allow our energy requirements to be met with a contingency of foreign/external control over our works or say No and goodbye to IAEA and strive without energy to maintain a growth-rate of 8-9 percent. The answer is for you to decide. But do let me know your views on this.

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