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Thursday, April 06, 2006

AAEA Supports Civilian Nuclear Power in India

AAEA president Norris McDonald, right, met Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, left, on Capitol Hill briefly for the first time just before she testified before the House International Relations Committee on President Bush's proposal to provide India with uranium for their civilian nuclear power program. AAEA supports this initiative and the Bush Administration's Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) because they are crucial to reducing global warming while serving as structures to limit proliferation of nuclear weapons. McDonald also attended the White House South Lawn Arrival Ceremony of Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of the Republic of India on July 18, 2005 where Singh and President Bush signed a nuclear accord.

Although it is generally agreed that this is a good program, it is controversial because it would require Congress to amend the 1954 Atomic Energy Act to permit the sale of uranium to India. India is potentially a $100 billion nuclear reactor market. India has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which is a requirement for receiving nuclear power plant materials and technical assistance from the U.S. India wanted to be designated as a nuclear power under the NPT without signing the treaty. It was refused. Only the U.S., Russia, China, France and Great Britain are official nuclear weapons states. All other nuclear states except Pakistan, India and Israel signed the agreement. The administration will not seek approval from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) until congress approves the sale. The NSG is a 45-nation consortium that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear related exports.

NPT states reject developing nuclear weapons in exchange for civilian nuclear technology. India already has almost 50 nuclear bombs and has or is building 22 nuclear power plants. And 14 of India's 22 nuclear plants would be subject to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The eight other reactors and any future reactors are off limits and could be used for producing fissile materials for military purposes. Secretary Rice was on Capitol Hill to defend the proposal, which is controversial because the announcement was made before Congress was briefed. Secretary Rice was aggressively challenged on this point while presenting testimony before the Senate Foreign Relationss Committee. Additional Information: NRC & the Atomic Energy Act. DOE & the Atomic Energy Act. EPA & the Atomic Energy Act.

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