One of the most distinguished nuclear scientists of India, Dr PK Iyengar is a retired chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. He has been one of those who followed in the footsteps of Homi Jehangir Bhabha, the father of Indian nuclear research. Bhabha was the first chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and had the blessings of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru himself. A visionary, he helped India augment its incipient nuclear programme but was concerned about the misuse of nuclear technology, especially if it fell into the wrong hands. His prediction seems to be coming true now with the real fear of Pak nukes falling into Taliban hands being a distinct possibility.
The present volume, Briefings on Nuclear Technology in India, a monograph by Dr Iyengar, traces the history of nuclear development from the 1930s to the present, with a large section devoted to the Indo-US nuclear agreement. It covers the entire gamut of the nuclear spectrum, from its early beginnings to the unstable scenario of the present. Perhaps the most fascinating parts are those that deal with the Manhattan Project, the section detailing Indian efforts in nuclear science-and the Indo-US nuclear treaty, which he feels gave Indians a raw deal.
He has been a vociferous critic of 123 clause of the Indo-US nuclear treaty, and feels we have sold out to the United States by capping our nuclear programme. He is alarmed that the Indian government agreed to put such research facilities as the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics (SINP) and others under IAEA safeguards. As he says, ‘Since the Manmohan Singh government had virtually accepted a non-nuclear weapons status for the country in the Non-Proliferation Treaty regime, negotiating India-specific safeguards and Additional Protocol with the IAEA, will be worrisome. It is well-known that the “Additional Protocol has evolved in recent years specifically to deal with ‘rogue states’ attempting to acquire nuclear technology clandestinely.”
His biggest concern is that under the Hyde Act, should India ever conduct a nuclear test in the future, it would be deprived of valuable fuel supply, leaving it high and dry. And since the US enjoys major clout with the nuclear cartel, it would ensure no country steps forward to help India in its hour of need. He believes the deal could have other serious repercussions, including ‘a potential weakening of India’s nuclear deterrent and an inability to protect and promote indigenous R&D efforts in nuclear technology.’
The book addresses a topic of enormous national importance with clarity and should be read by all Indians so they know where exactly the gilded path of the nuclear deal with the US is leading us to and what impact it might have on India’s foreign policy.
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