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Japan-India Nuclear Deal, Last Piece in Corporate Nuclear Game

By Jen Alic | Thu, 13 June 2013 22:14 | 9

There’s plenty wrong with Japan and India’s deal to export nuclear plants and boost nuclear cooperation, not the least of which is that it is phase 2 of a US-Japan-India nuclear pact designed largely to boost French and US corporations, a major blow to non-proliferation, and a dangerous geopolitical game that has China in mind.

On 29 May, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh signed a deal that would allow Japan to export nuclear plants and strengthen civilian nuclear energy and defense cooperation significantly.

The deal comes amid a border confrontation between India and China, and an ongoing territorial dispute between Japan and China over the East China Sea. But we’ll forego the India-Japan-China geopolitics for now, and focus on the nuclear issue. 

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The fact is that there is reason to be nervous over India’s nuclear energy ambitions. India is desperate, with hundreds of millions of its citizens without power and industry suffering.

The Japanese-Indian deal will give India access to Japanese nuclear technology and boost Japanese firms like Toshiba Corp. and Hitachi Ltd, who have lost their domestic market since the Fukushima disaster. Not only will it benefit Japanese corporations shopping for other markets, but it will also benefit US and French nuclear corporations who have found themselves burdened with billions of dollars in massive projects in India that require Japanese technology that can’t be realized without a trilateral agreement between the US, Japan and India.

As such, this Japanese-Indian nuclear deal should be viewed as the second installment of the US-India nuclear deal—and it is specifically designed to meet corporate needs.  Japan, therefore, is the springboard through which the US is connecting its India nuclear dots.

With this deal, we should consider the idea of nuclear non-proliferation dead. India, remember, has conducted nuclear tests and has its sights set not only on nuclear energy, but on advancing its nuclear weapons capabilities to rival those of Pakistan, with whom China has been getting increasingly cozy. 

Related article: US to Have First Ever Commercial Small Modular Reactor by 2022

Since the US signed its original nuclear cooperation deal with India in 2008, giving India a pass from the rules of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)--which bars transfers of nuclear technology to countries that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)--things have been on a downward spiral. The last piece of this puzzle—Japan—has now been put in place.

It is not Iran’s nuclear program we should be worried about. India’s designs, its nuclear report card, and the death knell for nuclear non-proliferation pose a much greater threat to the world. It was India’s nuclear testing, after all, that prompted the need for a non-proliferation regime in the first place—not Iran.

By. Jen Alic of Oilprice.com

About the author

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Jen Alic
Company: ISA Intel

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  • Sidharth Sankar on June 14 2013 said:
    NPT is discriminatory. And so, India never signed this treaty.

    You may feel sad about the virtual demise of NPT; but we, in India, couldn't care less.

    Our deal with Japan is about nuclear power, not nuclear bombs.

    Because we are an energy-starved economy, it is imperative that we develop all energy sources, including Nuclear and Solar.

    I like your articles about Oil; but you suffer from an institutional bias against other forms of energy that is apparent to a reader. You folks are merely damaging your own credibility by being so obviously biased.
  • Karthik Cmouli on June 14 2013 said:
    Talk about getting it all wrong..and apart from the bias in the article what gives anyone the right to determine that only a select few (which includes US, Russia, China, Israel and Pakistan) the right to determine the means to determine their defense or for that matter, their nuclear policy.
    And the ironic fact of the "dumb and dumber" NPT regime lies in the fact that India has done a better job at non proliferation than all the countries listed above, taken together.
    Given the current geo dynamics, this is not unexpected therefore this article, the arguments listed or for that matter, the opinion makes very little sense.
    I would suggest a read of Jane's defense weekly would do wonders to provide the author with a more realistic outlook than the obvious china slant to the current article. Sorry, but not what I expected and it is a stretch of imagination to even label this as a "article" which reads more like a daily piece posted in China's liberation army's mouthpiece, "the people's liberation daily"..

    The cue lies in the word "liberation", current chinese policies, the aggresive stance vis-a-vis neighboring countries and of course, the so called "string of pearls". It would be great if a point by point analysis was posted to support the author's view but of course, like other supposed "facts", none is provided. A complete waste of resources which could have been better utilized..
  • sriram on June 14 2013 said:
    We need to remember that India had nuclear weapons long before the US-India nuclear deal or the latest Japan-India nuclear deal. 1 nuclear weapon or 100 doesnt matter the horror is the same. So we need to understand that India is genuninely interested in nuclear power for power generation as opposed to Iran which has a stated intention of wiping out a neighbouring country. India does not have any military adventure in mind as opposed to it's neighbours.
  • SA Kiteman on June 14 2013 said:
    If India is so set on nuclear power, and given they have beach-loads of thorium for the getting, perhaps they should start building Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors. Cheap, inherently stable and walk-away safe. Good stuff, LFTRs.
  • Mazo on June 15 2013 said:
    This article is filled with dubious assumptions and blatant falsehoods:

    Firstly, the so-called "geo-political" game that is alleged is far fetched. India's Prime Minister was expected to make an official visit to Japan in Nov of 2012 but due to unforeseen circumstances in Japan, that visit could not take place. This present declaration between India and Japan therefore has little to do with the Indo-Chinese border incident than Japan's long standing desire for closer co-operation with India and Abe's personal aggressive stance.

    Secondly, another tragically ignorant idea being peddled here is that this Indo-Japanese "Agreement" is a "Phase 2" of the Indo-US accord. This is total and complete fiction. While Japanese approval helps US companies, the main contention of US nuclear reactor companies is India's liability law that places liability on reactor manufacturers as well as the plant operators, not their lack of access to Japanese components per say.

    Thirdly, while the shortage of adequate electricity can be termed as "serious", to claim that India is "desperate" is vastly over-stating the issue. India generates only 5000MW of nuclear electricity and this makes up a tiny fraction-less than 5% of total demand. Even in terms of access to nuclear reactors, nuclear fuel etc, India firstly has ingenious reactors that it has developed apart from access to Russian, South Korean and other European reactor manufacturers already. The easing of Japan's curbs on India largely benefits the US companies and to some extent France's Areva, not India much more than offering more choices.

    Fourthly, coming to non-proliferation India's record and commitment to non-proliferation despite being under ZERO obligations to restrict its knowledge of nuclear energy, nuclear weapons is proof in and of itself. India has conducted nuclear weapons tests - just like the USA, France, USSR, China and the UK. Claiming India's continued construction of nuclear weapons and its nuclear testing constitutes the end of nuclear non-proliferation is not only hypocritical but also smacks of ignorance. The non-proliferation regime ended when the USA developed nuclear weapons in the first place and then dispersed its nukes all over Europe, helped the French in their program, outright gave nukes to the UK and finally for tolerating a Chinese nuclear weapons program while denying India's for the crime of being a few years late to the nuclear club. Also, India isnt trying to "match" Pakistan's nuclear arsenal - that is absurd claim considering that India acheived nuclear capability in 1974, while Pakistan was only able to do so in 1999! India's policy regarding nuclear weapons is quite clear - credible minimum deterrence. The Indian nuclear program was in direct response to China's and as such till date has little to do with Pakistan's.

    Finally, the so-called "downward spiral" in nuclear non-proliferation occurred at the inception of the deeply flawed and hypocritical NPT itself. The fact that North Korea - a former NPT signatory and Iran - a current signatory, choose to discard it is a testament to the UNSC's incompetence and impotence and has nothing to do with India's ambitions or abilities. India was punished by the international community for ensuring its own security and sovereignty and being responsible with its technology despite not being under any such commitments. Had India choosen to sell nuclear technology to every state that choose to buy it, it would be well withing its rights to do so, as India didn't sign the NPT and didn't receive nuclear technology or fuel under its auspices for nearly 4 decades - which enabled it to develop its own robust nuclear program and a nuclear plan for the future regardless of the hypocrisy imposed upon it.
  • Mazo on June 15 2013 said:
    @SA Kiteman -

    LFTRs are essentially MSRs and like any MSRs they suffer from the debilitating dangers of salt solidification on catastrophic failure. Besides, LFTRs may mitigate most of the dangers of conventional MSRs but taking the costs of creating liquid fuel, processing spent wastes etc - which are completely different from conventional PWRs, the costs increase exponentially - as does the complexity.

    Keeping these issues in mind and after studying the feasibility of LFTRs and their pro's and con's the Indian nuclear planners choose to develop the Advanced Heavy Water Reactor that was cheaper, safer and simple to generate power through Thorium. Generating clean, reliable and safe power cheaply with the plentiful supply of Thorium native to India has been the aim of nearly 40 years of nuclear research in India.
  • Shri on June 15 2013 said:
    @Sidharth Sankar : Well said..Totally agree on points you made.

    Japan-India deal is about nuclear energy , did not understand why article tries to link it to NPT
  • SA Kiteman on June 15 2013 said:
    Salt solidification is pretty much a boogey man scenario since any credible accident will have the salt drain into passively controlled drain tanks. And even if by some chance the boogey man did come to play, the result would at worst be the loss of a single, rather inexpensive, plant.

    Like mine, your language can be a bit tortured. It sounds like you are saying that you believe that reprocessing will be more difficult and expensive for LFTRs compared to LWR. If so, you couldn't be more wrong. Reprocessing for LFTRs need not be more complex that fluoridation and fractional distillation, two processes that we know how to do quite easily.

    Except that with the AHWR, they most now reprocess from solid to liquid, back to solid, and handle U233 tainted with U232 which make the reprocessing more difficult that LWRs. Perhaps that was what you were thinking of when you mis-ascribed that problem to LFTRs.
  • SA Kiteman on June 15 2013 said:
    Oh, and if they had followed ORNL's lead 40 years go, they would have most likely been at 80% to 90% nuclear by now rather than the rather paltry 5% mentioned earlier.

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