What’s the value of nuclear energy? Let’s let Indian Prime minister Manmohan Singh tell us:
"Nuclear energy is vital to meeting our energy and developmental needs, particularly those of large, developing countries like India," Mr. Singh said.
We’d add that that’s a pretty good formulation for large, even smaller, developed countries, too. But what’s the occasion?
Addressing a function in New Delhi to honor Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of International Atomic Energy Agency, Mr. Singh said India is geared up for a major expansion of its nuclear program "in which international cooperation will be an important component."
Actually, Mr. ElBaradei has stepped down, which is most likely why he’s being honored just now. As for why India might be doing that:
The global Nuclear Suppliers Group in 2008 lifted its ban on selling nuclear fuel to India, and, as a result, nuclear power is expected to rise to 40,000 megawatts of installed generating capacity by 2020.
The lifting of the ban was part of the negotiations undertaken by the U.S. and India to reach a new deal on the transfer of civilian nuclear technology. The deal, signed in October 2008, ended a 34-year U.S. moratorium on nuclear trade with India following India's first nuclear tests in 1974.
And that’s opened the wide world of nuclear technology for India. This action was only mildly controversial, because, although India has not signed onto nonproliferation agreements, it has also not shown itself to be a bad actor of any sort. While one might prefer fewer states to have nuclear weaponry than not, India sits between two nuclear states – China and Pakistan. This calculus led the Bush administration to conclude that India’s stewardship of its nuclear inventory need not preclude it from participating in the growing markets for nuclear technology.
But for it all to work, the IAEA had to weigh in – and it did, to India’s benefit.
And hence the kind words to Mr. ElBaradei.
Sometimes, the complexities of the world just yield to the simplicities on the ground. For a change, everybody wins.
Manmohan Singh. We note that he uses this open-hand gesture a lot. A nice alternative to all the pointers among American politicians.