|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
What Indian scientists think of the nuclear bill
Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi | June 27, 2006 13:10 IST
The Indian nuclear science community stands divided on the eve of the introduction of a draft legislation in the International Relations Committee of the House of Representatives.
Speaking to rediff.com, Dr A N Prasad, former director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and an international authority on safeguards, said, "Our scientists who are directly facing the shortage of uranium are supporting the deal. The community of scientists is divided. A major weakness of India's requirement and shortage of uranium is sought to be exploited in this proposed bill."
Dr Prasad is one of the rare scientists who voiced his concerns publicly against the proposed deal between US and India.
He said, "It's not so much the lack of technology that India is worried about. Indian nuclear scientists have shown the know-how of the entire fuel cycle. The proposed US bill is not useful for us because it helps transfer of technology, But the whole idea is to persuade US to get uranium."
"The prime concern of the country is to get scarce uranium. But the price India has been asked to pay is in terms of its stand on foreign policy issues," said a former diplomat who is a critic of the deal.
The bill has a section that defines US's goal in South Asia and under the one of the sections it says, '(to) secure India's full participation in United States efforts to dissuade, isolate, and, if necessary, sanction and contain Iran's efforts to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, the capability to produce other weapons of mass destruction, and the means to deliver such weapons'.
It is certain that the Left and the Bharatiya Janata Party will not accept these arguments easily. Thus, it is possible that the contents of the proposed draft will generate as much heat in India as it is expected to in the US.
The draft of the bill is, however, likely to see many amendments after extensive debates. It should be on the floor of Congress after the mark-ups at the House International Relations and Foreign Relations committees. Therefore, it is likely to go to Congress after the recess on July 4.
While reiterating his views Dr Prasad said, "Given time and financial support. India can certainly develop self-sufficiency with the help of fast breeder technology. But once the nuclear facilities are taken under safeguards, this cannot be undone easily. This separation (of civil nuclear and strategic facilities) can't be a stop-gap arrangement for India because it's difficult to revert back to the de-linked facilities. The process is too complex."