Skip to main content

Ex-IAEA chairman throws spanner on Aussie-India N-deal, says India could use enriched uranium for armaments

By Our Representative
Seeking to throwing a spanner on India-Australia nuclear deal for the supply of uranium, which was clinched during Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s India visit in September 2014, former chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Ronald Walker, has “warned” the Aussie authorities that the agreement to sell uranium to India “drastically changes longstanding policy” on safeguards, and risks playing “fast and loose” with nuclear weapons.
Speaking at a hearing of the Australian parliamentary joint standing committee on treaties, Walker said, the deal differs “substantially” from Australia’s 23 other uranium export deals and “would do damage to the non-proliferation regime.” A former Australian diplomat, he said the Aussie Prime Minister “signed an agreement to make Australia a long-term, reliable supplier of uranium to India in Delhi, but the terms of the deal are yet to be endorsed by the committee.”
The British Guardian, reporting on the development, said, “Walker’s concerns were echoed by John Carlson, the head of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (Asno) between 1989 and 2010, who had said earlier that proceeding with the agreement would be “inexcusable”. Its provisions meant Australian material “could be used to produce unsafeguarded plutonium that ends up in India’s nuclear weapon programme”, Carlson had said.
While the daily quotes a senior foreign affairs official in Australia defending the deal, arguing that India had “unique circumstances and any departures from standard agreements achieve the same policy outcomes but in different ways”, Walker insisted, there were “new wording on the question of whether India needed prior consent to enrich Australian uranium imports”, which he said was “open to the interpretation that Australia has given its consent in advance to high-level enrichment unconditionally”.
Pointing out that “highly enriched uranium can be used in nuclear weapons, as well as to produce energy”, Walker, who has been a diplomat, said, in the treaty’s current form, “Australia does not claim and India does not acknowledge a right to withhold consent [to enrichment] and to withdraw consent if it is dissatisfied.” He warned, “You can’t play fast and loose with nuclear weapons.”
Pointing out that “the safeguards demanded of India were much less stringent than in similar deals Australia had struck with China, the US and Japan”, Walker said, “Along with Pakistan and North Korea, India was the only country still producing fissile material for nuclear weapons and was engaged in a nuclear arms buildup, at a time when others are reducing their arsenals” and “there is no justification to require less of India than our other partners.”
Walker further said any safety concessions by Australia would affect the broader non-proliferation system. “What Australia concedes on safeguards, Canada will find it difficult to try to maintain. If Canada and Australia fold in their safeguards negotiation with India, India’s negotiating position against the Americans is improved”, he said.
Contradicting Walker, the current director-general of Asno, Robert Floyd, defended the treaty at a hearing saying, neither Australia nor India viewed the terms of the treaty as allowing Delhi to enrich uranium unconditionally. Consent to enrich had merely been granted in advance under strict circumstances to guarantee stability for India’s nuclear fuel cycle. Besides, India was subject to IAEA inspections at a greater “frequency and intensity” than countries that had signed up to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Comments

TRENDING

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

Rejoinder: Worldwide anxiety post-Fukishima is fading, slowly and steadily

By Dr KS Parthasarathy* 
EAS Sarma, former Secretary, Government of India (GoI) in a letter addressed to the Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), GoI, stated that, there has been "worldwide anxiety about the consequences of catastrophic nuclear accidents, either due to manual lapses or natural calamities" (Counterview, December 2, 2018). "In the recent years, globally, the pace of growth of nuclear power has escalated in leaps and bounds, causing a great deal of public concern and apprehension."

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).