Against the wishes of the thousands of local residents who will bear the radioactive risks, India has agreed a deal with France's state-run nuclear group Areva to buy two reactors for a new plant in Jaitapur in the western state of Maharashtra. The ultimate plan is for a 10,000 MW nuclear power plant. The first two reactors - the French-designed EPRs - put the French at the head of the race to make nuclear trades with India. Flouting the terms of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which states that non-signatories cannot get foreign support in developing nuclear power - the U.S., France and Japan have been in eager negotiation with India. Meanwhile, demonstrations in Jaitapur by villagers, farmers and fishermen continue. One Indian nuclear official even avowed that "whatever comes out of the nuclear power plant, is not a waste."
India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan both possess nuclear weapons - potentially as many as 50 Hiroshima-sized bombs each. Researchers concluded that if these arsenals were used, the resulting smoke and ash would create a near nuclear winter effect and decimate global agriculture. Both India and Pakistan had civilian reactor programs before developing nuclear weapons.
Activists and residents in Jaitapur are up in arms after Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh gave the environmental clearance to the proposed 9,900 MW nuclear power plant in the port town located in Maharashtra. The general consensus on the ground is that the project has been cleared in haste without analysing the environmental fallout, according to an article on Tehelka.com. The reactors will be supplied by the French giant, Areva, whose poor environmental track record was dismissed by Indian nuclear authorities who claimed to be unaware of contamination caused by Areva around the world and in France. A day-long protest against the decision is planned for December 2. An earlier protest by villagers on October 29 (pictured) resulted in 1,000 arrests.
Greenpeace India is running a petition on its website to urge Indian President, Manmohan Singh, to put the lives of Indian people first and prevent the massive displacement and ultimate health, security and environmental risks posed by the planned construction of a 10,000 megawatt nuclear power plant complex.
Villagers of the Jaitapur in Maharashtra are angry with the government over forcible acquisition of their land to build a nuclear power plant. Many have rejected the compensation cheques offered by the state. French company areva and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (npcil) intend to set up the plant on 938 hectares (ha) at Jaitapur in Ratnagiri district. The project will be the first in India after the Nuclear Suppliers Group gave the country access to civilian nuclear technology in September 2008. Read more on the No Nuke Kokan website.
This harrowing book by Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark (2007, Walker and Company) lays bare the myth that "atoms for peace" and nuclear weapons are -- or can ever be -- kept separate. This comprehensive telling of the story of A.Q. Khan follows Pakistan's "Father of the Bomb" from his initial obscurity, to stealing "civilian" uranium enrichment centrifuge blueprints from his Dutch workplace in the early 1970s, to developing the key part of the Islamic Republic's secret atomic weapons infrastructure (unveiled to the world in nuclear test blasts in 1998), to his central role in the Pakistani government's and military's extensive nuclear weapons blackmarket. This worst ever proliferation ring involved, at various times, the likes of Saudi Arabia, China, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, and Libya, as well as Western European, North American, Middle Eastern, and Malaysian suppliers; despite Khan's downfall in 2004, tentacles of this network may still be in operation!
A recurring theme in the book -- very little reported, and perhaps even less appreciated -- is that, in addition to the U.S.-Pakistani military/political alliance (first aimed against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and for the past decade against the Taliban and Al Qaeda), which led to the U.S. government, at the highest levels, "looking the other way" as Pakistan first developed "the Muslim bomb," then sold it or gave it away for its own mercenary or even more sinister reasons, there was the commercial nuclear power dynamic. U.S. atomic firms had wares to sell in such places as China and North Korea. Such "atoms for peace" commerce led to the necessity of pretending not to know how out of control the bizarre atomic weapons bazaar had grown.
An especially egregious chapter occurred during the White House reign of Bush Sr., with Dick Cheney as Secretary of "Defense." To clear the way for an F-16 jet fighter sale to Pakistan's military -- worth several billions to such firms as General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin -- Cheney Pentagon and State Dept. henchmen, including Paul Wolfowitz and "Scooter" Libby, and their bureaucratic underlings, ruined the career and life of the top federal intelligence officer monitoring Pakistan's nuclear weapons capabilities. They did so to block him from doing his job and interferring with the executive branch's false mantra, that not only did Pakistan not have nuclear weapons, but the F-16 could not be adapted to launch Pakistan's non-existent nuclear weapons. The opposite, in fact, was true. Pakistan's arch nemisis, India, for one, knew better, although the U.S. Congress was kept in the dark, greasing the skids for approval of the F-16 transfer, despite U.S. laws prohibiting such sales to nuclear weapons rogue states like Pakistan.
Another frightening area this book covers is the very close ties between the likes of Osama Bin Laden, and numerous other Islamic terrorists at work in such places as Afghanistan and Kashmir, and the highest echelons of the Pakistani military and ISI (Inter Services Intelligence directorate, its secret police). But more frightening still are the documented instances of such ties involving the Pakistani atomic weapons establishment, including A.Q. Khan himself.
Nuclear Deception should not be confused with The Nuclear Power Deception: U.S. Nuclear Mythology from Electricity "Too Cheap to Meter" to "Inherently Safe" Reactors, another excellent must read by Arjun Makhijani and Scott Saleska (Apex Press, 1999).