• Door Partially Opens for Nuclear Fuel and Technology Trade with India
  • September 28, 2008
  • Law Firm: Troutman Sanders LLP - Atlanta Office
  • Earlier this month the Nuclear Suppliers Group (“NSG”), the group that regulates the sale of nuclear technology and fuel, voted to allow trade with India. However, before trade may begin, the United States Congress must approve the deal (see Jul. 24, edition of the WER). It remains to be seen if the White House will be able to convince Congressional leaders to vote on the matter before they adjourn for the election season.

    Proponents of allowing nuclear materials trade argue that India needs to develop additional nuclear power plants in order to meet the country’s rising electricity demand. The major nuclear technology producing countries such as the United States, Japan, France, Korea, and Russia view India as an important market for their technology. The only way India can meet its growing energy needs without adding significant amounts of carbon-dioxide to the atmosphere is by developing nuclear power plants.

    Opponents argue that India may use its greater access to nuclear technology to bolster its nuclear weapons program. To ameliorate these concerns, India has agreed to separate its civilian reactor programs from those used in its strategic nuclear weapons program. In addition, India has agreed to allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor reactors used for producing electricity. However, further advances in India’s weapons program run the risk of antagonizing India’s nuclear neighbors, Pakistan and China.

    Some of India’s political parties are also against the deal, which they call a “nonproliferation trap.” In the opinion of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communist Party, India does not need U.S. technology and any decision regarding the country’s weapons program rests solely with India.

    In the end, the U.S. may not be the country to benefit most from opening trade with India. France is already holding high level talks with Indian officials and they are discussing dates for signing a bilateral trade agreement.