Collapse of Indo-U.S. Nuclear Deal

J
apan’s embattled Toshiba Corp, endeavor to comprehend its worst financial crunch by putting its Westinghouse nuclear subsidiary into bankruptcy protection and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Top analysts are of the view that by filling chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and Toshiba's arranged offer of Westinghouse sale, which possesses delicate nuclear reactor technologies, are laden with inconveniences that could stretch out past the Japan’s biggest industrial loss to government relations amongst Tokyo and Washington.

This progression by Toshiba has created a noteworthy issue for India also. Around two years back, PM Narendra Modi and the U.S. President Barack Obama had set parameters to execute the memorable nuclear deal marked between the two nations in 2008. Previously, there was a stalemate on the deal over liability issue and both sides had consented to settle legally binding arrangements by 2017. However, after the latest issue of Toshiba Corp, it is very much clear that the U.S. will not be able to deliver in regards to nuclear deal. Whereas, the US-India arrangement's prospects are further shadowed by financial inconveniences of the other two reactor manufacturers, Areva and GE-Hitachi. In this context, Areva's own survival is in question today.

Both Congress and BJP governments made a special effort to oblige US business interests so as to operationalize the nuclear deal. For instance, Modi government overturned the liability of supplier in case of an accident in nuclear reactor and transfer reactor vendors’ accident liability risks to Indian taxpayers. It additionally reinterpreted another arrangement so that casualties of a potential accident would be banished from suing for harms in another country. Keeping in mind the 1984 gas leak from an American-owned chemical plant in Bhopal that killed as many people as Japan’s 2011 Fukushima disaster, these actions of fabricating improper liability law were controversial.

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (A U.S. based independent organization) recently published a report which has cautioned that India's arrangements to import 12 nuclear reactors from debilitated American technology providers is financially troubled and unessential for India's power needs. The nuclear deals that the Indian government is twisting in reverse to join up have more to do with the budgetary prosperity of US suppliers than with the desires of India's power customers or citizens. The important question comes here that why the Indian government is never going to budge on bringing in American nuclear reactors that even the Americans do not appear to need. One thing is clear, however: financing these costly US reactors will redirect genuinely necessary cash from India's planned commitments in renewable resources.

The Indian government should likewise consider the fact that nuclear power in the U.S. is on slippery slope. As a whole nuclear power today represents less of the US energy mix than it did before the exceptionally touted "nuclear renaissance". In this context, former chairwoman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Allison Macfarlane said that “The predicted nuclear renaissance did not materialize.” Actually, the production of more new nuclear reactors have been crossed out in the US than are under development. Therefore, nuclear partnerships were necessary to sell those outdated nuclear reactors to India on excessive cost and this is a fact that these reactors are too expensive to find buyers in the United States.

Instead of complacent to the requests of foreign reactor suppliers, India ought to stand firm. If nuclear power is as safe as these companies are portraying, then India’s liability law should not have been an issue. In any case, in all actuality nuclear energy is not save. The biggest instance of this claim is Fukushima catastrophe where radiation from the triple meltdowns is still leaking into the Pacific Ocean. Therefore, the desperate financial related condition of nuclear tycoons (Ariva and Westinghouse) that wanted to construct reactors in India ought to be seen by Indian citizens as a surprisingly positive turn of events.

Anaya Shahid graduated from Defense & Diplomatic Studies, Fatima Jinnah Women University Rawalpindi

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