India denounces call to give up Nukes

India has denounced a call to give up its nuclear weapons and sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) while it “remains committed to universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable nuclear disarmament”. “The question of India joining the NPT as NNWS (non-nuclear weapon states) does not arise,” India’s top disarmament diplomat Amandeep Singh Gill told the General Assembly committee on disarmament.

This was in response to a call by a group calling itself the New Agenda Coalition that India – along with Israel and Pakistan – sign the NPT as NNWS (non-nuclear weapon states), which would effectively mean giving up its nuclear arsenal.

However, India has reiterated its commitment “as a responsible nuclear power” to “a policy of credible minimum deterrence based on a No First Use posture and non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states”.

Background:

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted by the General Assembly with 122 votes in July, and the pact itself was open to signatures in September. India, along with the other nuclear-armed nations, boycotted the negotiations on the treaty, although North Korea voted for it.

About NPT:

It is an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament. The Treaty entered into force in 1970.

Four UN member states have never joined the NPT: India, Israel, Pakistan and South Sudan. North Korea, which acceded to the NPT in 1985 but never came into compliance, announced its withdrawal in 2003.

Recognized nuclear-weapon states: The treaty recognizes five states as nuclear-weapon states: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China.

The NPT is interpreted as a three-pillar system, with an implicit balance among them: the three pillars are:

  1. Non-proliferation.
  2. Disarmament
  3. The right to peacefully use nuclear technology.
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2017 Nobel Peace Prize

The 2017 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a group campaigning for nuclear disarmament — a decision that comes amid growing tensions between the U.S. and North Korea and as President Donald Trump reportedly considers ending a nuclear deal with Iran.

The Nobel Committee honoured the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) for drawing attention to “the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons” and for its efforts toward nuclear prohibition.

ICAN is a coalition of non-governmental organizations from around 100 different countries around the globe.

The Nobel committee said ICAN has given the movement toward the world without nuclear weapons a new direction and new vigour.

The Nobel committee emphasized that the next steps towards attaining a world free of nuclear weapons must involve the nuclear-armed states and is calling upon these states to initiate negotiations to the gradual elimination of the world’s 15,000 nuclear weapons.

Trump is reportedly expected to announce that he will decertify the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which he has previously called “an embarrassment to the United States.” And the escalating war of words between President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong-un has cast new fears of a possible nuclear conflict.

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India Third in Nuclear Power Installations: Study

India is third in the world in the number of nuclear reactors being installed, at six, while China is leading at 20, the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2017, released this month, shows. The number of nuclear reactor units under construction is, however, declining globally for the fourth year in a row, from 68 reactors at the end of 2013 to 53 by mid-2017, the report says.

The latest report further reveals that most nuclear reactor construction is behind schedule, with delays resulting in an increase in project costs and delay in power generation. There are 37 reactor constructions behind schedule, of which 19 reported further delays over the past year. In India itself, five out of the six reactors under construction is behind schedule. Eight nuclear power projects have been under construction globally for a decade or more, of which three have been so for over 30 years.

Data gathered by the authors shows that global nuclear power generation increased by 1.4% in 2016 due to a 23% increase in China, though the share of nuclear energy in electricity generation stagnated at 10.5%. By comparison, globally, wind power output grew by 16% and solar power by 30%. Wind power increased generation by 132 TWh (terawatt hours) or 3.8 times, and solar power by 77 TWh or 2.2 times more than nuclear power’s 35 TWh respectively. Renewables represented 62% of global power generating capacity additions.

Russia and the U.S. shut down reactors in 2016, while Sweden and South Korea both closed their oldest units in the first half of 2017, the report notes.

Financial crisis

The report also documents the financial crisis plaguing the industry. After the discovery of massive losses over its nuclear construction projects, Toshiba filed for bankruptcy of its U.S. subsidiary Westinghouse, the largest nuclear power builder in history. AREVA has accumulated $12.3 billion in losses over the past six years.

French bailout

The French government has provided a $5.3 billion bailout and continues its break-up strategy, the report notes.

In the chapter on the status of the Fukushima nuclear power project in Japan, six years after the disaster began, the report notes how the total official cost estimate for the catastrophe doubled to $200 billion.

The lead authors of the report are Paris-based energy consultant Mycle Schneider, who advised the European Parliament on energy matters for over 20 years, and Antony Froggart, energy policy consultant and senior researcher at Chatham House, a London-based non-profit organisation working on international affairs.

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