MAC: Mines and Communities

India bent on further nuclear treaty violations

Published by MAC on 2016-06-14
Source: Statement, New York Times, Hindu, PTI

Namibia's uranium now being targeted

The Indian government has apparently got US government support in joining the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which governs trade in nuclear-related exports, including uranium, aiming to ensure that civilian trade in nuclear materials is not diverted for military uses. The group is poised to take a decision on India's inclusion by the end of this month.

India has already brokered treaties with Australia and Canada for the supply of uranium, despite its glaring failure to abide by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NNPT) (See: India's nuclear weapons intentions exposed).

Now, it's also negotiating uranium purchases from African countries - specifically Namibia. This too would be a violation of Africa's Pelindaba Treaty that reflects restrictions imposed by the NNPT.

Namibia is set to expand uranium mining threefold by 2017, as output comes on-stream from a Chinese company. Meanwhile the country's biggest producers are Cameco (Canada) and British-Australian Rio Tinto from its huge open-pit Rossing mine in the Namib desert (See: Namibia's uranium production to triple by 2017).

No Exceptions for a Nuclear India

By the Editorial Board

New York Times

4 June 2016

America’s relationship with India has blossomed under President Obama, who will meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week. Ideally, Mr. Obama could take advantage of the ties he has built and press for India to adhere to the standards on nuclear proliferation to which other nuclear weapons states adhere.

The problem, however, is that the relationship with India rests on a dangerous bargain. For years, the United States has sought to bend the rules for India’s nuclear program to maintain India’s cooperation on trade and to counter China’s growing influence. In 2008, President George W. Bush signed a civilian nuclear deal with India that allowed it to trade in nuclear materials. This has encouraged Pakistan to keep expanding a nuclear weapons program that is already the fastest growing in the world.

Now, India has Mr. Obama’s strong support in its bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a 48-nation body that governs trade in nuclear-related exports and aims to ensure that civilian trade in nuclear materials is not diverted for military uses. Membership would enhance India’s standing as a nuclear weapons state, but it is not merited until the country meets the group’s standards.

All group members have signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, either as nuclear weapons states (the United States, Britain, France, Russia,  China) or as non-nuclear weapons states (everybody else). India has refused, which means it has not accepted legally binding commitments to pursue disarmament negotiations, halt the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and not test nuclear weapons.

President Bush squandered an opportunity to demand more of India when he signed the 2008 deal, which opened the door to American trade in nuclear technology for civilian energy, something India had insisted was a prerequisite to more cooperation and lucrative business deals.

As part of the 2008 deal, the Indians promised they would be “ready to assume the same responsibilities and practices” as other nations with advanced nuclear technology. But they have fallen far short by continuing to produce fissile material and to expand their nuclear arsenal.

The Nuclear Suppliers Group is to discuss India’s application later this month. Mr. Obama is lobbying for India to win membership through a special exception. If he succeeds, India would be in a position to keep Pakistan, which has also applied for membership, from gaining membership because group decisions must be unanimous. That could give Pakistan, which at one time provided nuclear technology to North Korea and Iran, new incentives to misbehave.

Opposition from China, which is close to Pakistan and views India as a rival, could doom India’s bid for now. But the issue will not go away. India is growing in importance and seeking greater integration into organizations that govern international affairs. If it wants recognition as a nuclear weapons state, it should be required to meet the nuclear group’s standards, including opening negotiations with Pakistan and China on curbing nuclear weapons and halting the production of nuclear fuel for bombs.

Nuclear deal with the US would mean destruction for people and environment in India

Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) press statement

9 June 2016

The joint declaration issued by India and the United States during the Prime Minister’s visit is shocking as it effectively celebrates the undermining of India’s sovereign Nuclear Liability Act, passed by the parliament in 2010 to ensure justice to the victims in case of an accident.

The joint statement holds India’s signing of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) as "strong foundation" for building US-imported nuclear power plants in India. The CSC is a template promoted by international nuclear lobbies, channeling the entire liability to the operator of plants and exempting the supplier companies. In case of a future nuclear accident in India, this would create a situation worse than Bhopal, whose victims continue to struggle for justice.

The joint statement also reaffirms the intention to expedite the construction of six reactors to be built by Westinghouse corporation. The two governments, however, have not made the actual agreement between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and Westinghouse public as it would expose the absence of liability provisions and the exorbitant cost of this project.

Further, the joint statement labels nuclear power as a clean energy and solution to climate change, which is a ficticious claim. Nuclear energy has its own heavy carbon footprints – from mining to construction of plants to disposal of waste – and has a long incubation period which makes renewable energy sources as a more efficient and faster solution to the challenge of climate change.

The US-imported reactors would mean devastation of the livelihoods of the Indian poor, displacement of thousands of farmers, large-scale destruction of environment and jeopardising of fragile ecologies surrounding the proposed sites.

We strongly condemn the furthering of this anti-people and eco-destructive bilateral deal. We demand that India must join the nuclear [sic] of countries which have abandoned nuclear power after Fukushima and have opted for sustainable solutions.

Achin Vanaik
Lalita Ramdas
Abey George
Anil Chaudhary
Kumar Sundaram

India eyes uranium from Africa

9 June 2016

Likely to ask the nations to relax commitment to Pelindaba Treaty

On the sidelines of its campaign for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), India is likely to ask African countries to relax commitment to the Pelindaba Treaty which controls supply of uranium from key mineral hubs of Africa to the rest of the world.

Senior diplomatic sources told The Hindu that President Pranab Mukherjee would begin the process by trying to convince Namibia next week, during his June 15-18 trip, to implement a bilateral treaty with India and supply uranium to Indian nuclear energy projects.

“India’s agreements with Namibia have not moved ahead. We will try to remind Namibia to ratify the agreement that was concluded for supplying uranium to India,” said a senior diplomatic source on Wednesday as the travel schedule of Mr. Mukherjee to Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Namibia was announced. The visit will begin on June 12.

The Pelindaba Treaty signed in 1996, also known as the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty, aims at preventing nuclear proliferation and preventing strategic minerals of Africa from being exported freely.

Two pacts with Namibia

India and Namibia signed two MoUs on Cooperation in the field of geology and mineral resources and Cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy during the visit of President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba to India in 2009.

However, diplomats pointed out that Namibia’s membership of the Pelindaba Treaty has prevented it from ratifying the agreements. Namibia is the fourth largest producer of uranium.

The visit by Mr. Mukherjee, diplomats said, will give India a chance to persuade Namibia to ratify the MoUs of 2009. A major focus of Mr. Mukherjee’s three-nation visit will be on energising India’s existing business ties with Ghana, Namibia and Cote d’Ivoire. Two major business delegations are likely to accompany Mr. Mukherjee on his three-nation tour.

India to convince Namibia to supply uranium

Press Trust of India

8 June 2016

India will seek uranium from Namibia for its peaceful nuclear energy use during the visit of President Pranab Mukherjee by trying to convince the fourth largest producer of the mineral to implement a seven-year-old agreement enabling the supply

Mukherjee will be visiting three African countries - Ghana, Ivory Coast and Namibia - starting June 12 during which a range of important bilateral, regional and international issues are expected to come up during his talks with the African leaders.

It will be Mukherjee's first ever visit to these countries.

The supply of uranium to India is expected to figure during the talks Mukherjee will have with Namibian President Hage Gottfried Geingob, Secretary (ER) Amar Sinha told reporters here today.

India had signed an agreement on cooperation on the peaceful use of nuclear energry with Namibia in 2009 when the then President Hifikepunye Pohamba visited this country.

The agreement has not been able to take off as it is yet to be ratified by Namibian parliament. Besides, that country is bound by Pelindaba treaty signed by African Union which prevents supply of uranium to countries which have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

"Namibia is the fourth largest producer of uranium but they have an African Union agreement which impeads its implementation. Namibia has not been able to break that unity or the binding commitment (known as Pelindaba treaty)," he said.

Officials said India has signed bilateral agreements with countries like Australia, Canada for uranium supply without signing NPT.

"We have raised this issue with Namibia and we would again try to impress upon them that India is a very good market for uranium and the fact is that because we had thought that this MoU would kick in quickly and has not happened we have been looking and signing agreements with other countries.

"So eventually if we meet our requirement from non-Namibian sources it would be loss to Namibian industry," Sinha said.

The Secretary said it's a win win situation for both which brings them revenue and makes available to India uranium that they have.

"I am sure the President will speak to their President...Uranium in their mines does not bring them revenue. Since 2009 India's own status in the nuclear world has changed so that should also perhaps encourage them to have a re-look," he said.

Besides the uranium supply, India will offer help in setting up their army's signals unit by extending technical expertise.

"During the visit, discussions will be held on bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest. The President will also address a joint session of Parliament of Namibia, an India-Namibia Business Event, and Namibian University of Science and Technology," an official statement said.

Mukherjee's visit will also be first to Namibia by an Indian President in over two decades.

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