- The ongoing COP26 on debilitating climate changes and global warming impacting the environment greatly has brought back the focus on giving a fillip to alternative as well as clean energy sources gradually intending to replace the primary fossil fuel sources. The universe, irrespective of economic status, continue to grapple with the ways and means to reduce greenhouse gases emissions, carbon footprints, and mechanism to remove harmful particles to reduce the impact on the environment. Coinciding with COP26, India also made a renewed push for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) by linking this to its climate goals.
- As you are aware, the Prime Minister has committed to a net-zero by 2070 when emissions of greenhouse gases by human activity are offset by steps to neutralise it. It makes imminent sense to adopt nuclear energy too as one of the alternative clean sources alongside wind and solar modes. Sole reliance on wind and solar is also bound to sharply increase the cost of power in India. As such, expanding the nuclear power infrastructure is an option that India cannot afford to ignore. However, India is hamstrung here by its exclusion from NSG. True, the US did facilitate a one-time waiver for India in 2008 which gave its civilian nuclear sector a big boost.
- This allowed the nation to buy nuclear power plants from the global market to a great extent. Nonetheless, we are still denied the sophisticated nuclear technology and assured supply of raw materials available to NSG members. As we are aware, China is the only major hurdle to bid for the NSG membership. Ever since India formally applied to join the elite nuclear group in 2016, Beijing has been stonewalling the process on the ground that India is not a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Simply put, such a stand adopted by China is just hogwash since India has an outstanding record on non-proliferation duly recognized by the global community.
PC: David DiMolfetta
- Our stand has long been made clear on NPT describing the treaty as discriminatory as signing on would mean giving up its strategic nuclear weapons programme. Thus, China’s insistence that India’s NSG application be put on hold until the group decides on non-NPT membership is nothing more than a ploy by it to dampen our power aspirations. Needless to mention, Beijing sees us as a strategic threat not only in the region but globally too. To counter such a counterproductive policy stand of China, major Western powers need to come through for India hereby supporting the expansion of our civil nuclear infrastructure, both for climate and strategic goals.
- The global community has witnessed how China’s belligerent and reckless expansionist moves on international borders have disturbed the global world order. Thus, China’s uncalled-for belligerence is a problem for the world and the two are not mutually exclusive. Against this backdrop, support for India’s NSG membership and civilian nuclear infrastructure needs to be seen in that context by the powers-that-be. Keeping India away from the same would be tantamount to strengthening the hands of Beijing which continues to flout accepted international order with great impunity.