Sunday, September 21, 2008

More Secrets Of Manmohan Sellout To US Revealed

By Roger Alexander

The entire Indo-US Nuclear Deal has been shrouded in secrecy. A number of these have already been unravelled with the Presidential Determination submitted to the US Congress making public the US interpretation of the 123 Agreement. 

A series of reports have appeared suggesting that the assurances made by the prime minister to Parliament and the country on the India-US nuclear deal have been violated. Worse, there are reports that suggest that crucial information was concealed regarding details of the deal.

It appears that there is much more about this deal that the UPA government is hiding from Parliament. Large purchases from US based nuclear power companies have already been committed in a clandestine manner.

Indeed, the UPA Government seems to have already decided to place orders with the American nuclear power companies for supplying a large number of nuclear reactors without any debate in the country regarding the cost of such imported reactors, or the safety of their designs.

So now we know why the monsoon session of Parliament has been shifted to the beginning of winter despite the fact that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had given and assurance that he would come back to Parliament after getting the clearance from the IAEA and the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Parliament has been convened only on October 17, well after the nuclear deal will be sealed in Washington.

Despite making noises that India do nuclear commerce with France and Russia if the US Congress failed to pass the 123 agreement by September 25, it is clear the government wants to favour US companies.

In fact, the Indian government has already provided the US with a “strong letter of intent” to buy from US firms reactors with at least 10,000 MW worth of power generation capacity and committed two sites to US firms. 

These disclosures were made by under secretary of state for political affairs William Burns to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during the special hearing on the 123 agreement on Friday.

“The administration has taken a number of steps to ensure the US nuclear industry will not suffer any competitive disadvantages during the 123 Agreement review process,” he revealed. 

Each 1000/1,100 MW reactor from US companies like Westinghouse or GE, by latest estimates, will cost at least $7 billion each. This translates to approximately Rs 28 crore per MW, which is 7 to 8 times the capital cost of coal fired thermal power plants of equivalent capacity.

The 10,000 MW figure stated by Burns implies India putting in around Rs. 280,000 crore of Indian money to bail out the US nuclear industry that has failed to secure any domestic order for the last 30 years.

More importantly, India also has committed to adhere to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage. “Adherence to this international liability regime by the Indian government is an important step in ensuring US nuclear firms are competing on a level-playing field with other international competitors,” explained Burns. 

The US government, unlike other countries, does not provide liability coverage for nuclear companies which expose US firms to unlimited liability in US courts. With India signing the convention, US firms would be protected as the convention provides supplementary international funds to pay victims and keeps liability in the country where the accident takes place. 

This means that in the case of any Bhopal type disaster, the Indian Government will take over all liabilities from the suppliers and the operators. The suppliers of nuclear reactors have demanded a no-liability regime for supplying equipment, which the UPA Government seems to have accepted without any public debate.


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