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India’s troublesome Nuclear Liability Laws: still an issue for the US? October 31, 2013

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Weigold, Auriol , comments closed

Auriol Weigold

In May 2010 I noted that the then Civil Nuclear Liability Bill defined the financial and legal liabilities for groups, seeking “to put the burden of damages on the nuclear plant operator”. (South Asia Masala, “Operationalizing” the Indo-US nuclear agreement) That burden remained unacceptable to potential operators United States’ companies Westinghouse and General Electric Hitachi, which have waited some three years for inter-government agreement to be reached on the unsatisfactory Nuclear Liability laws, before taking up long-since allocated sites in India to develop commercial nuclear power plants.

The Liability bill approved by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Ministerial Cabinet in 2009 and passed by Parliament in 2010, defined financial and legal liabilities, and was the final facilitating step in the 2008 Indo-US Nuclear Agreement, itself several years in negotiation. The benefit for India in the US reversal of a lengthy ban on supplying nuclear fuel and technology is immense, but the fine-tuning in this last stage is as problematic as the earlier delays and trade-offs over the issue of a nuclear reprocessing facility in India.

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Back to the future? Australia’s re-newed relationship with India October 26, 2012

Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, India, Weigold, Auriol , comments closed

Auriol Weigold

Returning to former Australian Prime Minister John Howard’s policy on uranium exports – to sell to India despite its standing outside the NPT as it still does, emphasises the years lost in negotiating and developing the required agreements and safe-guards, a process yet to commence following Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s brief visit to India in mid-October.

BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam site which contains the largest deposit of uranium on the planet

Uranium sales to India were taken off the bilateral table when Prime Minister Kevin Rudd dropped what has been aptly described as ‘a bomb’ over uranium exports to India, setting the Australia-India relationship back – and further back, following the attacks on Indian students in Australia. (more…)

Indian Ocean ‘strategy’: don’t make China nervous March 30, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : Weigold, Auriol , comments closed

Auriol Weigold

To borrow from an earlier piece published here at the start of this year (8 Jan 2012), I cited President Obama’s Defence Strategy Review, (5 Jan 2012) in which it was stated that “we will of necessity rebalance towards the Asia-Pacific Region …”, and I take this as an element in raising Chinese concerns.

In his excellent piece  “Indian Ocean: don’t militarise the ‘great connector’”, (29 Mar 2012) Sandy Gordon set out the security dilemma in the Indian Ocean region, and argued against any proposals, whether Indian ‘commonalities’ with the US in terms of strategic outlook, or borne of the US-Australian alliance, that make China nervous.

India, he has argued, is in a strategic ‘box seat’ in the Indian Ocean. Another view is that Australia is also in a box seat in the Indo-Pacific region. As a middle power able, if it chooses to do so, to take an independent stance in its own national interest – including its long-term engagement with China that is much broader than trade – and on its relations in the Indian Ocean region, notably with India and the US. (more…)

The Indus Water Treaty revisited March 22, 2012

Posted by sandygordon in : Future Directions International, India, Pakistan, Weigold, Auriol , comments closed

Auriol Weigold

This post first appeared on the FDI web site on 21 March 2012.

The Indus Water Treaty (IWT) (1960), negotiated by Indian Prime Minister Nehru and then President of Pakistan, Field Marshall Mohammad Ayub Khan under the eye of the World Bank, agreed on the utilization of the six rivers of the Indus Basin to benefit each country. The Treaty, intended to settle inter-country water disputes and govern water usage, allocated the Indus, Chenab, and Jhelum Rivers to Pakistan, and the Ravi and Beas (Sutlej in Pakistan) to India. These rivers have, however, been the subjecs of on-going disputes and failed arbitration under IWT provisions.

Differences over water-sharing were evident pre-independence and persist in disputes today as both countries prove unable to resolve issues in the ever more rapidly escalating water resource rivalry, increasing tension across other already fraught issues in their bilateral relationship.

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“Containment” no longer in the lexicon January 8, 2012

Posted by auriolweigold in : India, Weigold, Auriol , comments closed

Auriol Weigold

President Obama’s Defence Strategy Review, Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for the 21st Century Defence, published on 5 January 2012, states that “we will of necessity rebalance towards the Asia-Pacific region … This includes emphasising existing alliances and expanding cooperation to ‘ensure collective capability and capacity for securing common interests’”. Addressing China’s emergence as a regional power, the Review reports that both countries have a strong stake in regional peace and stability and an interest in establishing a cooperative relationship.  Nonetheless, the United States will continue to ensure access to, and an ability to operate across, the broader Indian Ocean region.

In an interview Australia’s Ambassador in Washington, Kim Beazley, said on 6 January, that the U.S. commitment is to access to vital waterways, “ … is a commitment to the global commons …  It is not a containment strategy”.  This makes all the more strange a statement attributed to Australian Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, however inaccurately reported by the Times of India on the 1 and 2 December 2011, that Australia, India and the United States may frame a tripartite security pact. Mr Rudd said that his message had been misrepresented.

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The Indian prime minister’s empty chair October 31, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Weigold, Auriol , comments closed

Auriol Weigold

Indian and Australian media have trawled backwards and perhaps forwards, over the message to Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, in the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh’s decision announced in August, that he would not attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, taking place this last weekend in October.

Australian print media, notably the Financial Review on 28 October and The Weekend Australian, 29-30 October, have linked Manmohan Singh’s remarkable absence to Australia’s reversal of its agreement to sell uranium to India after Labor won the 2007 election.

Some Indian media were quick to correct that impression, pointing out that their Prime Minister has a heavy schedule of multilateral meetings in November (as has Julia Gillard) but also to indicate that Vice President Hamid Ansari who is in Perth in place of Manmohan Singh is expected to raise the issue of Australian uranium sales again.

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ADF reviews plans for the IOR with a mining industry protection focus August 17, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Weigold, Auriol , comments closed

Auriol Weigold

This article first appeared on 3 August in Future Directions International

Background

In an example of Australia’s increasing awareness of the importance of the central and north-west of this country, the ADF has announced a force structure review with a focus on onshore mining and offshore oil and gas infrastructure and operations. It includes a shift in defence strategy towards the Indian Ocean’s vital sea-lines of communication and choke points close to Australia.

Comment

In geopolitical terms, the review recognises Indian and Chinese ambitions to “manage” the IO. The Indo-Pacific route is not just about trade, including Australia’s, but possible disruptions; best illustrated currently in India’s force projection and China’s acquisition of interests in littoral ports. Australia’s bilateral relations, particularly with India, still have to overcome some major problems, but are of high strategic importance in an IO context. Such scenarios must also include the maritime aims of other Indian Ocean users, including, for example, West African nations, Russia, Iran and Pakistan. There are implications also for long-term Australian coastal security and trans-ocean transport. (more…)

India’s reprocessing revisited: the NSG’s new guidelines July 21, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Weigold, Auriol , comments closed

Auriol Weigold

The forty-six member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) agreed on 24 June to strengthen its guidelines on the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies (ENR) that, at first glance, may affect India’s nuclear agreement with the United States.

The NSG aims to prevent nuclear exports for commercial and peaceful purposes being used in nuclear weapon making.  To this end a raft of regulations bar the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technology to states that have not signed or do not comply with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), and do not allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) full inspection rights and safeguards to be put in place.  India has IAEA approval for its commercial nuclear program, but remains outside the NPT although its nonproliferation record has NSG recognition.

Then US Secretary of State Rice introducing the 123 Agreement

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India’s nuclear energy future – a positive outlook? March 22, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Weigold, Auriol , comments closed

Auriol Weigold

Amid media comments on nuclear energy post-Japan’s earthquake and tsunami such as labeling it a pariah in supply terms, latent fears of uranium use have re-emerged with nations assessing their nuclear energy plans.  India however, has strong reasons to continue its commitment.

On 14 March, three days after the start of the emergency at Fukushima, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Parliament that the safety of all India’s nuclear power plants would immediately be inspected. Reuters reported the following day that India’s nuclear program was on track, there would be more stringent controls and, quoting the Prime Minister, “The department of atomic energy and its agencies …  have been instructed to undertake an immediate technical review of all safety systems of our nuclear power plants … with a view to ensuring that they would be able to withstand the impact of large natural disasters such as tsunami and earthquakes”.

On 16 March the Hindustan Times editorial enlarged on the Government’s underlying concerns; that no technology is without risk and that India’s safety procedures are less than well-rehearsed, but that nuclear power remains “the only economically viable renewable source of energy”. The editorial concluded that nuclear power has a relatively good safety record and that “India must not take nuclear power off the table”.  (more…)

Looking west again – to the Indian Ocean and India February 16, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Weigold, Auriol , comments closed

Auriol Weigold

An article in The Australian, published on 31 March 2010, notes Australia’s inconsistent interest in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) in its headline ‘We must look west to the Indian Ocean …’.  It goes on to remind that Australia should be a ‘pre-eminent country’ in the IOR and notes that a ‘new maritime great game’ is visible as ‘strategic competition between India and China’ grows. These ideas, verging on directives, are drawn from Bateman’s and Bergin’s Australian Strategic Policy Institute Paper, Our Western Front: Australia and the Indian Ocean, launched by Australia’s former Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, on the same day in 2010.  The Australian concluded its article by reporting that Australia’s policies vis-a-vis the Indian Ocean have been ‘relatively opaque and spasmodic’, and should be embedded in the mainstream of foreign policy.

Despite its inconsistent and often neglectful approach to engagement in the Indian Ocean as a whole, Australia has had an historical interest in the Indian Ocean, which is vital to its import and export markets and sea-lines communications. It relies on Indian Ocean sea-routes and access points for its globalised trade, and the ever-increasing importance of security and stability demand deeper engagement: geographically Australia is well-placed to play a prominent role in the Indian Ocean region.

Crew of HMAS Melbourne board a pirated Chinese tanker in the Indian Ocean,  Photo ABC

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