India - Plutonium Investigation n°10

December 1998                               Editorial

Business as Usual

India has developed its nuclear weapon capability taking advantage of significant assistance from other countries. Notably, western industrialised countries and Russia have supplied materials, technology and training assistance since the 1960s. More than development aid to a so-called Third World country, exporting to India was a welcome source of revenues for an industry which requires large investments. For a long time the countries which exported seem to have put their heads in the sand when it came to India's ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons. France, of course, always had the policy to export to both regionally competing countries: India and Pakistan, Israel and Iraq... Many countries protested the Indian nuclear weapons tests. However, the nuclear industry and the relevant government administrations are very much responsible for having enabled those tests. The industry sticks to the same old tale: commercial nuclear technology has nothing to do with the bomb. In Western states and in Russia, reprocessing was developed in the framework of nuclear weapons programs. Apart from Japan, Germany and Belgium, the Western countries which operate or did operate reprocessing plants are nuclear weapon states. However, these three countries have security agreements which puts them under the nuclear umbrella of friendly countries. India, on the contrary, gained from the plutonium industry which others built on its territory (heavy water plants, reprocessing plants, a fast-breeder reactor). The technology provided by the West has proved the basis for a parallel and secret nuclear weapons program. While most western countries officially disagreed with the tests, so called "civil" nuclear business with India will no doubt resume sooner or later. And if history is the guide, the nuclear industry will keep on saying that "civil" plutonium has nothing to do with the bomb.

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