People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 25

June 29 , 2008


Nuclear Deal Is Not About  Energy Security: CPI(M)

The following is the text of the press release issued by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on June 21, 2008.

THE Congress leadership and the UPA government are propagating that the Indo-US nuclear deal is absolutely essential for India's energy security. A massive disinformation campaign has been mounted that nuclear energy is a solution not only to the shortage of electricity in the country but also an answer to the oil price rise. This is nothing but a cover to promote the strategic ties with the US. As it is difficult to promote India-US strategic ties directly, therefore the recourse to false claims that nuclear energy will at one stroke reduce not only our oil consumption and but also remove our power shortages.

Let us take the issue of oil first. More than 50 per cent of India's oil consumption is in the transport sector - cars, buses and trucks and the rest in petrochemicals and fertilisers. Only a negligible amount is used in the power plants. Nuclear energy has very little to do with oil - it cannot be used as a substitute for oil; unless the government experts have found a new way to burn uranium directly in cars and buses! On the other hand, natural gas from Iran would insulate India substantively from the oil price shocks. The government has been dragging its feet over the Iran Gas Pipeline project at the behest of the US and in consideration of the Hyde Act.

On the power shortages, the facts are as follows.

The government has also been highlighting a temporary shortage of uranium fuel and painting it as a permanent one. The government, either deliberately or a failure of planning, did not invest in expanding the existing uranium mines or opening new mines. Worse, they also closed one of the existing mines. The Atomic Energy Commission has made clear that we have enough uranium for 10,000 MW of installed capacity against the current capacity of only about 4,000 MW. It appears that the spectre of uranium shortage has been created only to push a deal that is not in India's national interest.

The India-US nuclear deal is not about India's energy security. Energy security lies in using indigenous energy resources such as coal and ensuring our future energy supplies from Iran and other countries in West and Central Asia. Obviously, augmenting indigenous coal production, investing in oil exploration, securing gas supplies through Iran Gas Pipeline are much more important for India's energy security than buying imported reactors and importing uranium for such nuclear plants. Energy security does not lie in helping a moribund US nuclear industry to sell us billions of dollars of reactors, which nobody is buying in the US.

Mythical energy claims are being made in order to promote a bad nuclear deal. Energy is just a cover. The real intent is India-US strategic ties.