01-26-2008, 10:57 PM
Nuclear Thread - 2
01-28-2008, 06:24 AM
<b>Parliament approval not required for Indo-US nuclear deal: SC</b>
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02-10-2008, 07:57 PM
<b>Future nuclear reactors may come up in populated areas</b>
8 Feb, 2008, 1758 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: The much-awaited Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR) may be the first reactor to come up in populated areas like the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).
The pre-licensing review of the technology demonstrator reactor has been completed by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and BARC is making a case for reducing the exclusion zone for the reactor.
"We may be able to reduce the exclusion zone around the reactor. Now it is 1.6 km radius from the reactor. But it (the proposed reduction) has to be approved by the Regulatory Board," BARC Director Srikumar Banerjee told PTI on the sidelines of the Convocation Ceremony of Indian Agriculture Research Institute said on Friday.
A relaxation in the exclusion zone will enable to have the reactor in populated places. Right now no the reactors cannot be placed there, he said.
He dimissed suggestions that the project has been delayed as it has gone back to the design board.
"Design is more or less frozen," Banerjee said. The civil nuclear sector is poised for a boom period and India plans to generate 20,000 MW power from atomic plants by 2020.
<b>Banerjee said construction of the AHWR, which has a lifespan of 100 years</b>, is expected to begin in the 11th Plan period.
"We have not announced the construction yet because we are looking for a suitable site," he said.
02-10-2008, 07:59 PM
<b>India has right to N-energy: Norway</b>
8 Feb, 2008
NEW DELHI: Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said his country recognised Indiaâs right to energy in the civilian nuclear area, but said there is a need to find a âconsensus based-solutionâ within the 44-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on granting a waiver to India to carry out international civilian nuclear trade.
Without stating Norwayâs position on India getting an exemption in the NSG, Mr Stoltenberg told ET: âWe strongly believe we should find a consensus which solves the challenges we face regarding the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement. We believe that the only way is to find a solution.â
However, Mr Stoltenberg, who clearly indicated that there are sticking points on the matter, said Norway recognised Indiaâs right to meeting its energy demands. âWe are engaged and we will support to find a consensus-based solution, because this is the only way,â he added.
His remarks indicated that if and when India does get to the NSG, where it needs a consensus decision, it will not be a smooth sailing. Countries like Ireland, Sweden and New Zealand have criticised the deal at past NSG meetings, saying it would weaken the non-proliferation regime, while countries like Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland and Austria are known to be strong proponents of the non-proliferation regime.
Many NSG members are also waiting for India to conclude negotiating a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) before taking a position on the matter.
Meanwhile, Mr Stoltenberg, whose third visit to India is focused on climate change, said Norway understood Indiaâs position on climate change. India has argued successfully that it would not agree to emission controls that will affect the growth of the economy. Mr Stoltenberg agreed that emission controls could not come at the cost of development.
âWe recognise Indiaâs right to develop. Global warming is a problem mainly from emissions from rich countries since the industrial period. So rich countries have to take the main responsibility for emission reduction. We canât say that people of India donât have access to electricity or to have car or economic development,â the Prime Minister said.
He, however, added that though developed countries need to take the bulk of the responsibility, developing countries and emerging economies need to do their part also. There is a need for a common agreement, he said. India has also been arguing that it should be given access to civilian nuclear energy which is the cleanest form of energy.
<b>In fact, one of the areas of co-operation that Norway is interested in is in introducing technologies in India that would cut down pollution. One such project is a carbon capture and storage project, where C02 in injected into geological formations. Norway has implemented in two projects back there, he said, and added that his country is keen to introduce the project in India.</b>
02-16-2008, 07:12 AM
<b>Rice has spilled the beans, says BJP</b>
NEW DELHI: <b>The Bharatiya Janata Party said on Friday that the recent statement of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice vindicated its stand that the Hyde Act over-rides the India-U.S. nuclear deal.</b>
Party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar pointed out that the government was all along saying that the Hyde Act was an internal matter of the U.S. government and India was concerned only with the 123 Agreement.
<b>Now, Ms. Rice had very clearly stated that any agreement between India and the Nuclear Suppliers Group would be acceptable to the U.S. only if it complied fully with the Hyde Act.</b>
âIt will have to be completely consistent with the obligations of the Hyde Act,â Ms. Rice was reported to have told a panel.
Mr. Javadekar pointed out that while the Government of Indiaâs concern may be energy security, the U.S. concern was always strategic.
The primary objective of the Hyde Act was to cap Indiaâs nuclear programme and that was why the BJP opposed the deal.
02-18-2008, 07:58 AM
<b>Rice does not Hyde the truth</b>
By Brahma Chellaney
However inadvertently, US secretary of state <b>Condoleezza Rice, in one stroke, has deflated New Delhiâs public claims through her unequivocal assurance to Congress that any exemption for India from the Nuclear Suppliersâ Group rules will be "completely consistent with the obligations of the Hyde Act." </b>As Rice put it, "We will support nothing with India in the NSG that is in contradiction to the Hyde Act."
The reality is that no administration in Washington can ignore the Hyde Act, a 41-page omnibus of assorted India-specific conditions, several of them unrelated to civil nuclear matters. Even the bilateral 123 Agreement India has concluded with the US complies with the provisions of the Hyde Act, with undersecretary Nicholas Burns publicly complimenting New Delhi for being "good enough to negotiate on this basis â that anything we did had to fall within and respect the legal guidelines that Congress had set forth."
Yet, to deflect rising criticism at home, New Delhi resourcefully came up with a variety of explanations â from the assertion that Hyde Act has binding and non-binding sections to the claim that the 123 Agreement, once ratified, will override all other laws. It was beguilingly stated that the Hyde Act, as an American law, cannot bind India, <b>leaving out the more-relevant point that it binds the supplier-state to enforce tough, legislatively decreed conditions on the recipient.</b>
What Rice has stated is just a reiteration of what the Hyde Act obligates Washington to do in the NSG â to ensure that the 45-nation, US-led cartel does not in any way dilute the India-directed conditions prescribed by the Act. But <b>because few have read that long, intricate legislation, her words serve as a much-needed reality check for India.</b>
Long before the Hyde Act was passed, the Bush administration submitted to the NSG in March 2006 a draft "pre-decisional" proposal to carve out an India-related exemption. <b>Even that draft, mirroring the terms of the official bill the administration had submitted days earlier to Congress for an India waiver, sought to subject New Delhi to a lasting test ban.</b>
Section 4 of the US draft to the NSG proposed that civil trade with New Delhi be allowed "as long as the participating government intending to make the transfer is satisfied that India continues to fully meet all of the aforementioned non-proliferation and safeguards commitments, and all other requirements of the NSG guidelines." <b>One of the commitments specified was for India to indefinitely "continue its moratorium on nuclear testing."</b> Another commitment was for <b>India to embrace international inspections "in perpetuity," leaving no room for corrective measures if India was faced with a Tarapur-style fuel cut-off.</b>
Once the Hyde Act was enacted, the US draft to the NSG, of course, got overtaken by that legislation and its grating stipulations, including a clear prohibition on the transfer of enrichment, reprocessing and heavy-water equipment or technology even under safeguards, an immediate termination of all nuclear trade with India if it tested, and the US enforcement of additional "end-use" and "fallback" safeguards.
As a result, Washington is now obliged to ensure that any NSG rule-change for India is consistent with those congressionally mandated conditions. One of the Hyde Act prerequisites for the nuclear deal to win congressional ratification is that any NSG rule-change mirror the scope and rigour of the India-specific standards of compliance the legislation has set. <b>The law indeed demands that an NSG exemption for India neither be less stringent than what it has prescribed nor take effect before the US Congress has given its final consent to the deal. </b>
The legislationâs clause-by-clause explanatory notes state that no NSG decision should "disadvantage US industry by setting less strict conditions â¦ than those embodied in the conditions and requirements of this Act." <b>The concern is that if the NSG fails to set US-style conditions for civil nuclear commerce with India, New Delhi could do an end-run around Washington and buy reactors from Russia and France, which are overly eager to bag lucrative contracts. The Act asserts the US "possesses the necessary leverage" in the NSG to "ensure a favourable outcome."</b>
So, as and when the NSG takes up the India case, the US is certain to back an exemption soaked in Hyde Act-style conditions. As Rice acknowledged, "Weâll have to be consistent with the Hyde Act or I donât believe we can count on the Congress to make the next step." But it will be virtually impossible for an NSG exemption to replicate all the Hyde Act stipulations. That Act, a unique, country-specific nuclear law, comes not only with preconditions but also post-conditions.
The Act mandates that after the deal passes congressional muster and takes effect, the post-implementation conditions will become operational â from an annual presidential certification to ensuring Indiaâs "full compliance" with a non-nuclear cartel like the Missile Technology Control Regime. The President, besides having to submit a comprehensive "implementation and compliance report" within 180 days of the dealâs entry-into-force, is required to cyclically certify that India is continuing to meet all the stipulated conditions.
As a large, unwieldy association that meets behind closed doors, the NSG is in no position to emulate the procedures set by the Hyde Act, whose intent is to keep India on good behaviour by subjecting continued civil commerce to congressional oversight and overtly hanging the Damoclesâ sword of cessation of cooperation.
But the NSG, under American persuasion, is likely to grant New Delhi an exemption that, like the US waiver, is conditional and partial, meeting the supplier-statesâ commercial interest to win multibillion-dollar reactor contracts, yet without giving India access to civil fuel-cycle technology or equipment.
<b>If New Delhi presses ahead with the deal, the poorly-negotiated 123 Agreement is going to come to haunt it.</b> The outcome of the NSG deliberations would be influenced by the several conditions India has willingly embraced in that accord.
These include: (i) the supplierâs right to seek the return of transferred material and items if it determines the recipient is in breach of any non-proliferation commitment; (ii) New Delhiâs grant of an open-ended right to the supplier to suspend supplies forthwith simply by issuing a one-year termination notice; (iii) Indiaâs agreement to route not just spent fuel of US-origin but all "foreign nuclear material" through a new dedicated reprocessing facility that will take years to complete; (iv) instead of securing the right to reprocess upfront, India is to negotiate a separate agreement with the US on reprocessing-related "arrangements and procedures" after the new facility has been built; (v) in the absence of an enforceable link between perpetual international inspections and perpetual fuel supply, Indiaâs much-touted right to "corrective measures" has been rendered cosmetic, with the accord forbidding the lifting of safeguards in any situation, even if the supplier cut off fuel supply; and (vi) the recipient placing itself at the mercy of the supplier also by not insisting on a provision, as in the Japan-US 123 Agreement, for an international arbitral tribunal to deal with any dispute.
It is because of the flawed 123 Agreement that India finds itself on the back-foot in the negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Having failed in the 123 Agreement to secure a binding fuel-supply assurance or a spelled-out right to corrective steps, New Delhi has sought ornamental concessions from the IAEA in the safeguards accord so as to be able to play to the public gallery at home. These include a cosmetic reference to assured fuel supply in the preamble and a dubious right to take corrective measures short of withdrawal from safeguards.
<b>The pressure now is to get India to speedily conclude a perpetual safeguards accord with the IAEA on the terms the Agency is seeking to dictate. Once that happens, India will have little role, other than as a bystander, in the NSG and congressional processes</b>
02-22-2008, 05:01 PM
<b>Nuclear test is a must</b>
By Bharat Karnad
Remarkably, in the two-and-a-half years since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed the misbegotten Joint Statement with US President George W. Bush, neither the government nor the supporters of the India-United States deal for âcivilian nuclear cooperation,â have been able to counter the substantive arguments <b>about why this deal amounts to death by stagnation for the Indian nuclear weapons programme. </b>
Instead, they have offered polemics â dismissing critics of the deal as âprisoners of the pastâ or as having âCold Warâ mindsets, etc. This may fill newspaper columns and, repeated ad infinitum, flesh out the Manmohan Singh regimeâs approach to sceptics, but it has failed to still the growing doubts about the deal.
Periodic statements by US officials, moreover, have only persuaded the undecided that there must, after all, be something dreadfully wrong with this transaction, or <b>why else would the US government want it so bad and push it so hard?</b>
In the sunset period for the deal, with the dispirited Manmohan Singh giving up on it as a lost cause and the professional pushers beginning to pipe down, it may be <b>best to clarify the pivotal issue about why many more tests are needed to turn the boosted fission and thermonuclear designs in Indiaâs employ into safe and reliable warheads or weapons and to optimise them for the various vectors </b>â land-based and submarine-launched ballistic and cruise missiles, ship-based missiles, and bomber aircraft.
Indeed, the dubious quality of advanced Indian weapons is such, the question is not whether India will test again, but when. <b>And specifically, which party or coalition government will have the guts to finally act in defence of national interest</b> and order testing so that this country can acquire proven thermonuclear weapons â the prime currency of power in the new millennium.
It will require, moreover, that no Indian government again does the damn-fool thing of âvoluntarilyâ stopping tests after one or a few indecisive underground explosions as Indira Gandhi did in 1974 and Atal Behari Vajpayee repeated in 1998. Manmohan Singh, in a bid to out-do his predecessors, has, with the proposed nuclear deal, reduced testing to only a theoretical possibility. <b>If India wants to be treated as a country of consequence, it better have the thermonuclear wherewithal to match, or it will always get the stick. That is the way it is.</b>
In the main, this means jettisoning the nonsense about computer simulation making physical testing unnecessary. The viability of simulation in designing modern boosted and thermonuclear weapons is determined by three factors.
<b>Firstly, the richness of the test data already with the designers</b>. Thus, the American labs at Los Alamos and Livermore can draw upon data gathered from some 1,800 atmospheric and underground tests; even the French weaponeers have 217 tests worth of data to rely on. <b>In comparison, Indian weapons designers have data from a sum total of one boosted fission test and one, and that too only partially successful, thermonuclear test, to work with.</b>
<b>The second factor is the kind of computational speeds available to the design team:</b> the higher the speed, the more detailed and realistic the simulation of nuclear explosions, and the better the eventual design. According to news reports, the Americans have computers capable of 100 trillion operations per second. The most powerful computer with the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), the ANUPAM-AJEYA, according to Anil Kakodkar, chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, can muster <b>no more than 3.7 trillion operations per second.</b>
And the third factor has to do with designers having inertial confinement fusion (ICF) facilities, where high energy lasers are used physically to replicate fusion reaction and generate empirical data for designing newer, more lethal and more usable thermonuclear weapons.
The US has built an industrial scale ICF unit called the National Ignition Facility in Livermore costing in excess of six billion dollars. The French have erected the Megajoule facility south of Bordeaux to do the same thing. The Livermore ICF, for instance, uses 240-odd lasers. <b>India has a small experimental ICF unit in Ahmedabad, using directed energy from only a relatively few laser beams.</b>
If the United States has test data from 1,800 tests, a computing capability of 100 teraflops and the gigantic ICF facility to obtain miniature thermonuclear explosions, its belief that it can do without testing in the future, is well founded.
Even so, the combined team of the US National Weapons Laboratories at Livermore and Sandia in New Mexico, which won the design competition for the new Reliable Replacement Warhead, is not convinced their design is weaponisable without testing.
Here we have R. Chidambaram, science and technology adviser to the Prime Minister, who as chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, controversially maintained since before the 1998 tests, that the countryâs laughably minute test data is adequate, its small computing capability sufficient, and its puny inertial confinement fusion facility enough for BARC to design, develop, and deploy a variety of sophisticated boosted and thermonuclear weapons without any of these computer-generated weapons designs having to ever undergo any explosive tests.
Welcome to the world of virtual thermonuclear weapons and make-believe strategic reality. Now we know why Chidambaramâs reputation is mud in the Indian nuclear establishment. (His successor, Kakodkar, does not count, because he says one thing in public and just the opposite when he is looked in the eye by his colleagues in Trombay.)
Had this nuclear weapons-making standard applied to the Indian Space Research Organisation, for example, ISRO would have been forbidden to launch any large space launch vehicle, been forced to rely on data collected from test-firing only the small Space Launch Vehicle-3 a few times, instructed to design the massive polar orbit and geosynchronous orbit capable space launch vehicles only with the SLV-3 data and entirely on computer, and with this meagre preparation alone, ordered to put some poor Indian into space.
If you think this is silly, then consider the danger faced by the country and the less than jocular dilemma confronting the armed forces stuck with untested, unproven, unreliable, and unsafe boosted-fission and thermonuclear weapons.
This is not polemics but hard facts. India may not be burdened with a legal obligation not to test, but our negotiators have produced a 123 Agreement that has rendered the testing option a notional thing, because the benefits they expect to accrue to India in terms of dual-use technologies and unrestricted nuclear commerce, are predicated on Indiaâs not testing again.
If India nevertheless tests â and like it or not, it will have to some time in the coming years â the deal collapses, and sanctions are re-imposed. But this is the situation India is in today. Except, and mark this, two-thirds of our nuclear programme is not under safeguards, no light water reactors are imported at exorbitant cost, which money can, more prudently, be invested in the development of thorium reactor technologies at home for real energy security, and fuel supply is not hostage to Nuclear Suppliersâ Group diktat. So the issue boils down to Manmohan Singh â a strong anti-nuclearist, being satisfied with a third-rate nuclear arsenal for the country.
<b>Because the energy rationale he has offered is a fraud. Umpteen studies in the US and elsewhere have concluded that imported reactors will not increase energy production other than marginally and Indiaâs reliance on external oil is not going to be reduced even a bit. </b>
<b>The more the deal is scrutinised, the more it confirms the countryâs security managers responsible for it and those in the Indian strategic community pushing it, as rank amateurs and Pollyannas hankering for disarmament and a nuclear weapons-free world. This is a bad reputation to have in the serious business of nuclear deterrence and power politics. </b>
<i>Bharat Karnad is Professor at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, and author, most recently, of Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security, now in its 2nd edition</i>
02-24-2008, 05:59 PM
<b>Thorium is the future</b>
<i>Phillip Knightley and Dalbert Hallenstein</i>
There is a nuclear technology called the Energy Amplifier that could provide a safe, cheap alternative to fossil fuel. Its supporters say its power stations would not only produce zero greenhouse gasses but burn up the waste from existing nuclear reactors, thus solving the long-term disposal problem once and for all.
But the Energy Amplifier technology is not in use and is not likely to be in the near future because its development has divided the scientific community so bitterly that any agreement, even on a matter of such global importance, now seems impossible.
The sceptics claim that the system is a fraud, that the amplifier would need more energy to run it than it would produce. They accuse its principal advocate, the Italian physicist Carlo Rubbia, who won the Nobel Prize in 1984, of being a ruthless, ambitious manipulator who did not merit the honour.
His supporters claim that the Energy Amplifier project has been actively sabotaged by the conventional nuclear industry, the oil and coal companies, academic envy and even the Greens who oppose any form of nuclear energy.
Who is right? The authors have spent four years investigating claim and counter-claim. Here are their findings:
Many people have a knee-jerk, negative reaction to any suggestion that nuclear power might be a solution to the problem of global warming. Their memories of Chernobyl and anxieties about long-term nuclear waste and weapons proliferation vastly outweigh the obvious advantage of nuclear generated power. It emits zero greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.
But what if a new nuclear technology were proposed which effectively dealt with all these issues and was a safe, cheap alternative to fossil fuels? In fact such a technology already exists.
In the early 1990s, scientists at Cern (The European Centre for Particle Physics) in Geneva successfully experimented an idea for an entirely new nuclear reactor developed by Carlo Rubbia, co-winner of the 1984 Nobel Prize for physics. This consisted of a reactor which functions with thorium, a mildly radioactive mineral found in great abundance in Norway, India and Australia.
The reactor, known as an Energy Amplifier (EA), is fired by a proton beam created by a particle accelerator, similar to those used in cyclotron experiments. The beam produces a nuclear reaction which occurs far below the dangerous critical levels adopted in the worldâs more than 440 existing nuclear reactors. A Chernobyl-type meltdown is, therefore, impossible. It is enough to switch off the particle accelerator to shut down instantly the reactor.
There are other massive advantages. Because the EA reactor uses thorium and not uranium, it is virtually impossible to produce nuclear bombs from its residues, which remain radioactive for a relatively short term. But perhaps its greatest advantage, apart from its safety, is its ability to burn and transform long-term nuclear waste, lasting for millions of years, into short-term residues which can be easily stored and managed.
If such reactors were situated close to existing nuclear power stations, or to those already in disuse, they could not only produce cheap electrical energy, but burn up the existing waste which previously would have had to be buried for millions of years.
"We are facing a terrible dilemma," said Carlo Rubbia, who was director-general of Cern between 1989 and 1993. "On the one hand, humanity is burning off fossil fuels, oil and coal, at a progressively worrying rate. The Greenhouse effect is now generally recognised as a reality. On the other hand, the use of standard nuclear reactors is causing increasing concern because of accident risks, the accumulation of radioactive waste, and the production of plutonium which is increasing the risks of nuclear proliferation.
"Our goal is to generate cheap nuclear energy which cannot cause accidents, which is not producing long-term radioactive waste, and which is not propagating plutonium. We have the basic technology and we must do all this in the shortest possible time. Humanity has no time to waste." He told us this in 1998 and since then all attempts to build a prototype of the reactor have been frustrated.
Rubbiaâs first attempt to realise a large-scale working prototype of the Energy Amplifier in Spain in 1998 was a dismal failure. This was not because the project in itself was a failure, but was caused essentially by lack of funding by the European Community.
The Spanish project was sponsored by the Spanish government in the form of ENRESA, the state-controlled company responsible for handling Spainâs nuclear waste. A consortium, including Italian and various private companies, was formed to produce the prototype in Saragossa.
Spain, with its nine nuclear power stations, producing 30 per cent of its electrical energy, had by then accumulated 9,000 tons of highly radioactive waste. The government was considering burying this material deep in the ground at enormous expense.
But the cost of developing an Energy Amplifier over a period of from five to eight years was estimated at roughly half of the cost of burying the countryâs nuclear garbage with the added on advantage that it would gradually transmute the waste into relatively short-term nuclear refuse while at the same time produce cheap electrical energy.
The EU Commission, known as the Pooley Commission, named after its chairman Derek Pooley, which decided to withhold funding of the Spanish project, consisted of the cream of Europeâs nuclear industry. Pooley himself was chief executive of the UK Atomic Energy Authority. Another powerful and prestigious member was Sue Ion, then director for technology at BNFL (British Nuclear Fuels). Yet another was Michel Coudray, the senior vice-president for research and technology at Framatome, one of Franceâs leading nuclear industries.
"I donât know how the commission was selected," said Jean Pierre Revol, one of Cernâs most senior and prestigious physicists and coordinating director of the Cern-based ALICE project, which will soon utilise the large hadron collider which spreads, in a vast 27-km circle, under parts of France and Switzerland.
"When governments want to know something about nuclear energy, they always ask the industry, and they obviously get the answer which is most favourable to the nuclear industry," he said, "and this is not the same as a general scientific answer. They should have asked scientists outside the nuclear industry, academics etc. They should have made a serious scientific study."
"I think that what is happening," he said, "is that the world is essentially driven by economical interests so that the nuclear industry wants to capitalise on its investments. They simply do not want to hear about new technologies. What the Pooley Commission actually did was to protect the nuclear industry from a potential competitor like the Energy Amplifier."
He was referring to the present rat race of the nuclear industry to sell its standard technology to the developing world, particularly to China and India. China, apart from completing at least one new, highly polluting coal power station each week, has already 30 nuclear power stations either under construction or programmed and is in the process of ordering many more. Just last December, Westinghouse signed orders to construct four new reactors to be constructed in Guangdong province in southern China.
Unsurprisingly, therefore, the conclusions of the Pooley Commission were distinctly negative as regards the Energy Amplifierâs capacity to produce electrical energy. "The committee inevitably compared the energy amplifier with modern light water reactors, based on those now widely used around the world," reads the concluding report. "We believe that the energy amplifier system would be more complex in engineered reality than currently envisaged and that it would not be economically competitive with the improved light water reactor systems now under development, such as the European Pressurised Water Reactor."
But while the commission was dead against funding research into the energy potential of the Energy Amplifier, it was favourable to financing further research into its capacity to transmute long-term nuclear waste. In so doing, it acknowledged the scientific validity of the Energy Amplifier and proposed EU funding for a tiny transmuter prototype. This was to be based near Rome, but to be built exclusively for research into transmutation of nuclear waste.
This limitation was, in fact, a contradiction in terms. "By the mere act of transmuting (burning) nuclear waste," said Prof. Rubbia in a recent exclusive interview, "you are inevitably producing huge amounts of heat energy which can produce electricity." And yet the Pooley Commission strictly forbade the logical utilisation of this energy. "This is madness," said Dr Yacine Kadi, a senior Cern physicist who has worked closely with Rubbia in the development of the Energy Amplifier, "to waste the heat potential of the EA is criminal."
But not even the project to build the small EA transmuter of long-term nuclear waste was completed for lack of adequate funding. "Until now little has actually happened at the purely transmutation level," said Rubbia in a recent interview. "They have created a smokescreen with transmutation. There are a lot of people working on low-cost transmutation research. Itâs a powerpoint activity: they make nice pictures, they go to conferences... and they pick up a little money from the European Union. There are 54 institutions doing research in this programme, and the total amount of money is 34 million euro for five years. What do you do with 54 institutes sharing this sort of money divided like this. Itâs enough to pay for your computers and thatâs all... and for a bit of socialising at international congresses."
The transmutation "smokescreen", referred to by Prof. Rubbia, also largely explains the opposition of the Green movement to the Energy Amplifier. They are afraid that if a cleaning-up technology comes into effect, the conventional nuclear systems will proliferate even more, using the excuse that there is no longer the danger of accumulating long-term nuclear waste.
Other more recent attempts to build a prototype have also failed for lack of funding and for other reasons. But despite the failure of the Spanish project, the Cern group did not give up. They began to collaborate with Russiaâs impressive nuclear establishment. Russian collaboration was essential because the Energy Amplifier, as conceived by Carlo Rubbia, was to be cooled by molten lead and the Russians had a long and successful experience of lead cooled reactors in their submarines. The Russians also have enormous quantities of long-term nuclear waste, including plutonium from disbanded military weapons, which they wanted to burn in an Energy Amplifier.
By 2003, Rubbia, who was then president of ENEA, Italyâs alternative Energy Authority, and a group of Russiaâs leading nuclear scientists, officially backed by the Russian Academy of Sciences, was on the verge of signing an international agreement to construct a large-scale prototype of the Energy Amplifier with the main objective of transmuting Russiaâs vast accumulation of long-term nuclear waste into short-term residues.
The Italians, together with the Cern group, would perfect and supply the particle accelerators which they were already using in their research at Cern. The Russians would supply the lead cooled submarine reactor. Both would then put these two technologies together to create the Energy Amplifier.
The project was backed by Evjeny Adamov, a former Russian minister for nuclear affairs, who was also convinced that the Energy Amplifier should be exploited to produce electrical energy. The support of Adamov was essential in persuading Russiaâs military establishment to locate and offer one of the countryâs submarine reactors to the scientists. After a long search, the Russian Navy found 16 unused lead cooled submarine reactors in storage.
This was a period when Russian government finances were at an all-time low and Italy was expected to supply much of the money for the project. But, at the last minute, at a disastrous meeting in Moscow between the Russians and the Italians, they discovered that the Berlusconi government had decided not to finance the project, which was immediately called off.
According to a Cern scientist who was present, Rubbia and Adamov went off to get drunk together at Adamovâs Dacha, convinced, as was everybody else at Cern, that pressure from the combined French, German, British and US nuclear industries had convinced the Berlusconi government to sabotage the project.
"Nobody really wants to have a change," says Carlo Rubbia. "The industrialists and their underlings are very greedy about the money they are making. They talk on and on about natural technologies and that gasoline is ecologically polluting. In reality this is all blah, blah. In reality nobody wants to do anything and the oil companies and the existing nuclear industry are in fact holding out against change for their very existence."
"The same thing happened with the computer", he said. "Do you thing that IBM would have backed the personal computer when it was damaging for themselves. No, the big computer was their business, and they didnât. They didnât want to change. The existing nuclear industry does not want to change, exactly like IBM."
Yet another attempt to build a Russian-European Energy Amplifier prototype was attempted in 2004 between a group of French companies and the Russians. This ended disastrously after the main organiser of the Russian French agreement, Prof. Noulis Pavlopoulos, a senior Cern nuclear scientist and vice-chancellor of the Da Vinci University in Paris, was incriminated on a highly dubious money laundering charge. A few months later, Evjeny Adamov, the former Russian nuclear minister, was arrested while visiting his daughter in Switzerland on a corruption charge filed by the US attorney-general and authorised by then US national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.
Whether or not the arrest of Adamov was also motivated by a US government desire to block the Russian-French Energy Amplifier project, as believed by many of its Cern backers, it was the nail in the coffin for plans to construct a large-scale EA prototype. Adamov, who openly advocated the electrical energy potential of the project and who was its most powerful and prestigious sponsor, was effectively silenced and the project died a humiliating death.
Lack of EU and government funding was the basic reason for the failure of the Energy Amplifier to become an industrial reality, but there were other factors, one of which is the extremely difficult character of Carlo Rubbia himself.
At Cern, he is notorious for his bad temper and vitriolic tongue. He is notorious for his explosive temperament, for his appalling impatience and for his total inability to put up with incompetence and stupidity. He is a master of making enemies He is said to have dismissed 14 secretaries in 13 years. A former press officer was sacked virtually once a week in a particularly difficult period of work. He also does not hesitate to throw journalists out of his office if he does not like their questions or faces.
One of these may have been Gary Taubes, a New York Times scientific journalist who early in his career wrote Nobel Dreams: Power, Deceit, and the Ultimate Experiment, which describes Rubbia as a ruthless manipulator who didnât really merit the Nobel Prize he won. This book has had a disastrous effect on the attitude that many scientists currently have towards him.
One distinguished nuclear scientist, a professor in a major British university, dismissed the value of Rubbiaâs Energy Amplifier by stating: "Iâm very suspicious of Rubbia because of how he behaved to win the Nobel Prize: see Nobel Dreams by Gary Taubes." He then went on to add that Rubbiaâs idea "is nuts as you use more energy to power the accelerator than you gain."
Both of this professorâs opinions, which are rife amongst many of his colleagues, are highly questionable. Pierre Darriulat, a retired senior Cern research scientist, recently wrote a long article on the particle discoveries of Rubbia and Van der Meer for which they were awarded a Nobel Prize in 1984. Darriulat was then working with the "rival" Cern team which was trying to make the same discoveries. This rivalry is one of the main themes in Taubesâ book.
In his article, Dr Darriulat criticises journalists and writers who utilise "gossip taken from Gary Taubesâ book. Such citings," he wrote, "do no service to the history of science and only repeat a collection of anecdotes selected for their ability to seduce the general public, but this is not what history is made of. They give a completely distorted and misleading account of what was going on. Worse, they do no service to science, mistaking research for a horse race and scientists for bookmakers."
As for the statement that the Energy Amplifier uses more energy than it produces, all the scientific literature on the subject, including the Cern experiments, demonstrate clearly that the system produces far more energy than in utilises. This is why Rubbia called it the Energy Amplifier. Georges Charpak, who won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1992, says in his recent book, Megawatts and Megatons on page 156, that the Energy Amplifier "uses only 10 per cent of the energy produced".
But why has much of the scientific community so deliberately ignored or belittled a technology which could play a major role in resolving the problem of global warming and at the same time, render tens of thousand of tons of long-term nuclear waste relatively harmless.
Part of the answer is possibly envy, envy of those who win the prestige and honour bestowed by the Nobel Prize. Envy has always been a major characteristic of academic life.
But far more important than envy is the pressure of industry, not only of the powerful nuclear industry which wants to promote the technology which it has developed over the past 60 years, but also of the petroleum and coal industries which do not want to see a new competing technology threatening the currently widespread use of oil and coal to generate electrical power.
A part of the huge financial resources of these industries funds many of the science faculties of universities in both Europe and America. The pressure to concentrate academic research on programmes favoured by industry is virtually irresistible. Other financial resources are also being spent on lobbying governments and such institutions as the European Community and various other international agencies.
Meanwhile, almost 20 years have been lost for the development of the Energy Amplifier. This delay has given the conventional nuclear industry a technical monopoly of a vast potential market in the developing world and a carte blanche to spurn out long-term nuclear waste which will inevitably poison the planet.
Jean Pierre Revol has not lost all hope, however. "The real question facing scientists today is the following: Is it possible to transform nuclear energy production in such a way as to make it acceptable to society? I believe," he said, "that there is a race against time to get an alternative system, such as the Energy Amplifier, operating as soon as possible in the light of the industrial development now taking place in countries like China and India."
"Think of the Manhattan project, where in the 1940s it took relatively little time to produce the A-bomb because of the vast resources available. In my opinion, Rubbiaâs Energy Amplifier project is of maximum importance for the future of our planet and it should now be properly funded to make a decent prototype as quickly as possible."
02-25-2008, 04:54 PM
<b>Countdown to nuke D-Day after budget</b>
Washington, Feb. 24: <b>The core of the Manmohan Singh government has resolved that it would cement an Indo-US strategic partnership before the end of its term, trashing opposition from Left parties and reservations about the Indo-US nuclear deal among some constituents of the UPA.</b>
The decision to retain Ronen Sen as ambassador to the US for another year was taken after the leadership of the government decided that it would operationalise the nuclear deal with the US before it demits office, risking the disapproval of the Left parties.
The decision followed recent, unexpected progress in the negotiations between the rigid, non-proliferationist bureaucracy at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna and the Indian delegation to the talks on a safeguards agreement as a prelude to the international communityâs assent to nuclear trade with New Delhi.
Sources in Vienna said the signalled support of IAEA director-general Mohamed ElBaradei for the Indo-US nuclear deal softened the attitude of the agencyâs negotiators although he did not at any stage personally intervene in the negotiations.
The sources predicted that India and the IAEA would come to a complete agreement on safeguards in the next two to three weeks.
That agreement with the IAEA will lead to a special session of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to approve changes in rules to allow global nuclear commerce with India.
The negotiations with the IAEA are being conducted on the Indian side in unprecedented secrecy. Only two officials, one an alter ego of Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar and the other a disarmament expert at the Indian mission in Geneva who is trusted by national security adviser M.K. Narayanan, are privy to what is happening in Vienna.
The Telegraph spoke to three of about 15 people in the government who are privy to the strategy to operationalise the nuclear deal during its current life.
They said negotiations would be started with the Left parties outlining the merits of the agreement with the IAEA shortly after concluding the negotiations on an India-specific safeguards agreement.
<b>If the Left parties do not show accommodation of the governmentâs line, they will be told to âtake it or leave itâ, but only after the budget session of Parliament.</b>
Thereafter, New Delhi will approach the US Congress for approval of the 123 Agreement and subsequent steps for operationalisation of the nuclear deal <b>even if the Left parties withdraw support to the government.</b>
The rationale behind this strategy is that with limited time left for the life of the present government, it would rather complete the nuclear deal with the US than remain friends with the Left parties as India goes into a general election in late 2008 or early 2009.
The finalisation of this strategy and a decision on extending Senâs tenure in Washington became imperative in view of the visit of US defence secretary Robert Gates on Monday.
Gates hopes to secure some firm commitments during his visit on defence purchases by India from the US.
But that seems unlikely: therefore, India would at least like to give an assurance to Gates that it will operationalise the nuclear deal while in office and outline a road map in that direction.
02-25-2008, 06:08 PM
<b>Left scuttles Govt's hope on Indo-US N-deal</b>
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->CPI-M politburo member M K Pandhe said Left parties would not allow the deal. "We will not allow the nuclear deal to be pursued. <b>It has been agreed by the UPA government with the Left that after discussions with the International Atomic agencies that they will not sign it</b>," he said.Â
"They'll put the proposal before the Left parties and if the Left does not agree they will not pursue the deal. This is a commitment given to us and if they go back on the commitment than they will suffer,'' said Pandhe.
02-26-2008, 04:06 AM
I dont know if it really scuttles it. The Left says if the UPA signs they will pull the govt down. That doesnt prevent the UPA from signing for they will sign and the govt will be pulled. I think UPA is a jihadi that wants the deal even if they dont survive. THey have massive lifafas and commitments. I think the US senators have come like Yama Dhoots to remind the UAP to pay up or else.
Meanwhile Deccan Chronicle op-ed, 26 Feb 2008
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Disturbance in our times
By Pran Chopra </b>
Speaking as loftily as is customary with them, a few American senators visiting India have warned the host country that it must comply quickly with American preferences about the so-called "nuclear deal" because "otherwise," they argued, "India would for ever remain starved of nuclear energy." <b>They and their leader, Senator Joe Biden, need to be reminded that the original sin was committed by the American Congress, and that is where its undoing must begin.
But before that, India itself needs to be reminded of its own contribution to the ups and downs which have afflicted Indiaâs search for nuclear self-sufficiency. There is a worrying contrast between what is happening in and to India today in this regard, and how things were only a few years ago, whether within India or in its nuclear relations with other countries. </b>
For example, <b>even until as little as two or three years ago, there was a growing sense of self-assurance in the way India handled so unfamiliar a subject as nuclear cooperation with other countries. For all the novelty of the subject, which had figured little in Indiaâs relations with other countries, this country had conducted its nuclear negotiations with such an experienced country as America with a clear understanding of Indiaâs own priorities, whether the party sitting across the table was America or Russia. The result was that during these negotiations India did not let its guard down, and when circumstances forced it to make a choice it preferred to give up a short term gain than to lose a long term objective.</b>
But this has been the case much less consistently of late, and as a result, <b>India has hovered close to losing its long term aims in its negotiations with America or Russia or both. It has not been able to strike a useful bargain with either, nor has it been able to avoid misunderstandings with either.</b>
It may be debated whether Indiaâs relations with Russia or with America are now a clearer example of that loss of self-assurance. <b>But consider the view generally prevailing in India until a couple of years ago that despite pressure from China, Russia was more sympathetic than America towards Indiaâs nuclear ambitions.</b> This certainly appeared to be so during the year or two which President Vladimir Putin invested in reducing the gap between Indian ambitions and Russian resistance to them during the first few years of this decade.
Contrast this with what happened during the talks between President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh which followed a little later. Both sets of negotiations appeared to be on the verge of a breakthrough at one time, but both reached the brink of a collapse soon afterwards. <b>Indiaâs nuclear relations with America might have improved of late, but they have not improved sufficiently to compensate India fully for the decline in the warmth of its relations with Russia. </b>
The same is true of the shifts in Indiaâs relations with China. They have steadily improved since the mid Nineties, but not sufficiently to enable either country to cross out any of its problems with the other and to mark it as "solved." <b>China demonstrated that recently in relation to Arunachal Pradesh. It proved that at very short notice and to the considerable unease of India, China can rekindle any of its still outstanding problems with India with regard to Arunachal Pradesh.</b>
Indiaâs domestic relations with its closest neighbour to the west, Pakistan, have been unfortunate in many respects. The blame for this may lie less upon one country than upon the other. But the fact remains that despite their many quarrels with each other, none of Pakistanâs domestic players has become warmer towards India than it was before, while some, like Nawaz Sharif, have become comparatively more distant, and none of them has got more drawn towards Hamid Karzai, the Afghan player who has been closer to India than any other in the past quarter century.
<b>In other words, the sum total of the Islamic attachments that India can count upon in the whole of the West Asian region has grown little, if at all, in spite of Indiaâs efforts to improve them. The relations among the Islamic countries of the region might have improved or deteriorated, but India has not gained much from either process.</b>
Indiaâs domestic affairs are also continuing to be a baggage which can, as now, suddenly begin to weigh a lot heavier at one time than it does at another, and if <b>the recent visit of the American senators has not served any purpose for the visitors, it has at least reminded India that the weight of Americaâs domestic politics on Indian affairs can increase very quickly, and that too quite independently of anything done or left undone by India.</b>
<b>During a more constructive phase of the nuclear relations between India and America, that is around 2005, it had been agreed between President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that while India would, unilaterally, agree to abide by the substance of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, America would recognise India as a country which had developed advanced nuclear technology by its own independent efforts and therefore, would not have to face any of the disabilities which America could impose upon a country under the NPT.</b>
But there has been a kind of deadlock between the two countries in this regard since the latest elections to the US Congress. Under the US Constitution, the President can sign a treaty with another country even if his party does not have a majority in Congress, and the majority party in Congress can impose certain restrictions upon the cosignatory even without the consent of the US President. Indo-US nuclear relations have been in this kind of a limbo since the last Congressional elections, and will remain there until at least the countryâs next presidential elections.
This is the context in which Senator Biden recently held out the unpleasant threat to New Delhi that if India did not quickly sign the only nuclear agreement which America is willing to offer at present under the Republican presidency of Bush, it would face one which might be offered by a Democratic presidency after the next presidential election, and India might find that to be even less acceptable.
While this inter-party rivalry within America has added one complication to the nuclear controversy between the two countries, another has been added by a different<b> inter-party rivalry within India, between the government led by Dr Manmohan Singh and its principal supporter outside the government that is the coalition between the parties of the Left. Both have added to the political instability which is currently affecting the stature of the government at a critical time, only days away from the next budget first and then the elections which might follow soon after. America must weigh its words in that context.</b>
02-26-2008, 04:57 AM
you are close, some people in UPA will get exposed by some leaks from uncle.
Blackmail is working. <!--emo&--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='biggrin.gif' /><!--endemo-->
I hope Natwar do it before Uncle, that can save India.
02-28-2008, 06:11 PM
<b>...But Advani says itâs too late</b>
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->When Gates asked if something could be done, Advani said the government could have managed to push the deal by involving the Opposition and taking into account the BJPâs apprehensions over the Hyde Act passed by the US Congress. âBut, it chose to ignore the Opposition and Parliament and set up a panel with the Left. The BJP could not compromise on Indiaâs nuclear power status as it had been always in favour of the country acquiring such weapons as a deterrent.â
03-01-2008, 11:12 PM
03-02-2008, 07:05 AM
Mark Brzezinski:, who served on the National Security Council staff in the Clinton administration, claims that the US has missed opportunities to make sensible progress in India and Iran. In both cases, the United States should be promoting constructive engagement rather than undercutting long-held nonproliferation doctrine.
Americaâs nuclear deal with India is stalled as key Indian political parties reject what has been billed as one of the Bush administrationâs biggest foreign policy achievements. As this happens, America inches toward war with Iran with no progress being made toward a negotiated solution.
Both cases involve the challenge of nuclear proliferation. And in both cases the administration has missed an opportunity to make sensible progress, opting instead for an exaggerated approach resulting in a bad deal.
In neither case should the United States be undercutting long-held nonproliferation doctrine. In both cases it should be promoting constructive engagement.
In the case of India, George W. Bush is right to pursue stronger ties. But his administration was so eager for a deal that sufficient thought wasnât given to the implications of âan agreement at any costâ approach. As captured in Glenn Kesslerâs book, âThe Confidante,â professionals in the State Department would have preferred to pursue an agreement with India that would not undercut the incremental approach to nuclear cooperation.
Instead, the administration went for a deal that would abandon a three-decade long policy that had cautiously approached nuclear collaboration because India used a civilian nuclear program to produce fissile material for weapons.
The final agreement lays out a framework that would allow trade in nuclear reactors, technology, and fuel. It would permit India to reprocess nuclear fuel and open the way for the United States to become a âreliableâ supplier for Indiaâs energy program.
Critics said the deal had dangerous consequences for the ability of the U.S. to discourage the spread of nuclear weapons. There is growing recognition in Congress that the deal sets a bad example because India would win access to U.S. technology without complying with the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The agreement also is controversial in India, where close association with the United States is viewed with suspicion, and leftist parties want a degree of distance with it.
With talks suspended until next month, the moral of this story is that strategic partnerships, while desirable, shouldnât be slapped together. Thoughtful dialogue and engagement can develop shared approaches to mutual challenges, despite differences that inevitably will continue.
Thatâs relevant to the case of Iran, where Bush was also right to reverse almost 30 years of U.S. policy that had forbidden direct engagement. But since that decision in spring 2005, the administration has barely met with any senior Iranian officials and politicians.
Nor has it had contact with the vibrant Iranian society, which in terms of demographics, education and perhaps even international orientation could one day soon emulate the evolution of Turkey. Hints by the administration at âWorld War IIIâ inhibit any constructive atmosphere and context for negotiations that could make that option unnecessary.
The U.S. ânegotiatingâ posture of demonizing and criticizing the Iranian regime stands in sharp contrast with bilateral and multilateral negotiations with North Korea. If the negotiations with North Korea prove successful and enduring, they are in some ways a model as to how to negotiate with Iran.
The North was more defiant than Iran and confronted the United States head on, stating openly that it sought to have, and indeed did have, nuclear weapons. Despite the odious rhetoric of Iranâs president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the starting point with Tehran is in some ways easier, which as of yet does not have a weapon, and claims that it does not want to develop one.
There are those like Defense Secretary Robert Gates who bring a constructive mind-set to the debate within the administration. Gates cochaired a Council on Foreign Relations task force in 2003 that concluded that direct dialogue without restrictions would serve Iranâs interests and achieve U.S. objectives.
More important, the task forceâs report noted that the United States and Iran need not wait for âabsolute harmonyâ between governments: While relations cannot be normalized without a commitment to abandoning nuclear weapons and abandoning support for terrorist groups, those requirements should not be preconditions for dialogue.
Thatâs a better approach than one involving artificial deadlines, name-calling, and saber-rattling, which are destructive to getting any negotiating process underway.
Both in the case of India and Iran, exaggerated positions replaced patient engagement and the cultivation of a constructive atmosphere to pursue realistic goals.
Mark Brzezinski, an international lawyer in Washington, served on the National Security Council staff in the Clinton administration. This article appeared first in The Boston Globe.
03-02-2008, 12:10 PM
India Between Superpowers: Negotiating China and the US
Despite a visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in recent days, India's priority is clearly focused on the main actors in Asia: China and the US, says FrÃ©dÃ©ric Bobin of Le Monde. A rising power itself, India is now stuck in the position of doing a diplomatic dance between the two superpowers in an attempt to collude with the US without upsetting China. Although India is distrustful of a rising China and concerned about Islamic terrorism, two issues which bring it together with the US, it is equally wary of manipulation by the United States in an anti-Chinese coalition. The US, in turn, has been making exceptions for India despite the fact that it has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty. Recently, however, India's "fundamentalism" is causing it to back away from overt Western friendliness, which could put a damper on newly improved US relations. Watching America, January 26, 2008
03-03-2008, 07:21 AM
<b>Centre to spell out plans on nuclear deal today</b>
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->New Delhi: Amid continued nudging by the U.S. to conclude the civilian nuclear deal at the earliest, the <b>government is expected to spell out its plans on the issue on Monday in Parliament when External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee makes a statement. </b>
Mr. Mukherjee, who will be making the statement on âforeign policy issues,â is expected to speak about the governmentâs intent on the civil nuclear deal and the progress made in this regard, sources told PTI on Sunday.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Washington has been maintaining that if the agreement does not come before the U.S. Congress by <b>May-end or early June</b>, it would be difficult to get it passed.
<b>Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently told U.S. Senators here that there were âdifficulties,â apparently referring to the Left partiesâ stiff opposition to operationalisation of the deal</b>.Â
03-03-2008, 08:00 AM
New Delhi, February 29, 2008
<b>Nuclear deal, elections on menu after Budget</b>
Congress has strengthened its hand against the opposition and Left allies
with a <b>farmer-friendly Budget, raising a chance of early elections and reviving
hope for a controversial nuclear deal.</b>
Congress leaders had been reluctant to push forward the civilian nuclear
cooperation deal with the United States in the face of staunch opposition from
their communist allies, who had threatened to bring down the coalition over the
US officials warned this month that time was fast running out for the deal,
which would end decades of nuclear isolation for India and allow it to access
international nuclear fuel and equipment.
Many analysts had all but written the agreement off.
But Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram upset those calculations on
Friday with a budget aimed squarely at elections and India's rural poor, with a
<b>$15 billion scheme to waive loans held by 40 million small farmers.</b>
Elections have to be held by May 2009, but Congress now has less to fear from
an earlier vote, analysts say, meaning its leader Sonia Gandhi might just call
the Left's bluff over the nuclear deal.
"It's a pre-election Budget, a Budget with an eye for early elections, but
whether or not they will go for it I don't know," said Mahesh Rangarajan, a
political analyst and history professor at Delhi University.
"Sonia Gandhi has to make the decision."
<b>Newspapers reported on Friday that the government was close to concluding a
nuclear safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency in
Vienna,</b> a crucial step in tortuous negotiations over the agreement.
The deal would also need to be ratified by the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers
Group and go back to the US Congress for final approval, in good time before
America's own elections in November.
Supporters of the deal like nuclear expert RR Subramanian were in good
"This is nothing short of an election budget," he said.
"They have virtually said goodbye to the Left. <b>The nuclear deal will be done
by July and elections will be in October. This budget clearly indicates the deal
has been saved."</b>
But others said a lot still needed to be done on the nuclear deal in a short
space of time.
"It's 5 to 12 as far as many people are concerned," said one Western diplomat,
"but I think it could go through."
"They may have left it too late, but there is obviously one last bid to push
it through," said political analyst and columnist Prem Shankar Jha.
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