There is a nice quote Ram Jethmalani used in Indian Parliament, targeting a prominent Congress leader – Power corrupts and the prospect of losing power corrupts absolutely. Composition of Nuclear Supplier Group as like the UN Security Council permanent membership is a clear indication of that adage. As of today, the countries opposing India’s entry into NSG are China, New Zealand, Austria, Turkey, South Africa and Ireland. The table below, depicting the current Uranium foot print of the world tells one important thing – of the countries opposing India, New Zealand, Austria and Ireland don’t have any nuclear footprint whatsoever – neither production facilities nor reserves nor reactors. Of the balance, Turkey hasn’t got any footprint today – no production and no active reactors. But, it has got two reactors under construction and has got reserves. We can always argue it doesn’t have the technology to extract Uranium and that it’s reactor programme may be shutdown any day making it another country like Austria or Ireland. Above this, we have countries like Mexico or Switzerland which India had to cultivate. What have they got? No reserves but a handful of reactors – full import unlike India which wants to top up what it has got. And all this, ironically, reminds me of title of that famous book The Mouse that Roared.
This single fact raises some very serious questions over the composition and subsequent monopoly over nuclear trade. As it stands today, of the members, 16 out of the 48 NSG members have no Uranium footprint whatsoever, of the balance two have reserves but no reactors or production and two of them have reactors under construction, effectively restricting the numbers to 28. Should the list be vetted then?
Next is the drama over Iran even though Iran is an NPT signatory. Too much noise is made over Iran but none whatsoever over Egypt and UAE which are building reactors. Or for that sake, Taiwan or Armenia which already have. What is the basis for this prejudice? Are we saying NSGis not a moral overseer but another potent political force which wants to make the world dance to it’s tunes?
Next comes countries like Namibia or Uzbekistan which produce Uranium. If they are not given access to the trade network of NSG, are we sure that they won’t err? Or, for that matter, countries like Mongolia or Vietnam which can start producing any day.
I won’t pass any judgment over this, but my point here is that undeserving should never be given power anywhere. China has got it’s compulsions and it will oppose. But, what right has Turkey or Ireland?
|Uranium production (2014)(tonnes)||Reactors||Reserves as of 2009|
|Algeria||Not a member||19500|
|Armenia||Not a member||1|
|Central African Republic||Not a member||12000|
|Egypt||Not a member||2|
|Gabon||Not a member||4800|
|India||Not a member||385||21||6||80200|
|Indonesia||Not a member||4800|
|Iran||Not a member||1|
|Jordan||Not a member||111800|
|Malawi||Not a member||369||15000|
|Mongolia||Not a member||49300|
|Namibia||Not a member||3255||284200|
|Niger||Not a member||4057||272900|
|Pakistan||Not a member||45||3||2|
|People’s Republic of China||1500||30||21||265000|
|Peru||Not a member||2700|
|Taiwan||Not a member||6|
|United Arab Emirates||Not a member||4|
|Uzbekistan||Not a member||2400||114600|
|Vietnam||Not a member||140800|