Nuclear Power of India Explained: All about nuclear energy, NPT, NSG, 123 Agreement & IAEA

Know about nuclear energy, its production and usage in India along with various treaties and agreements related to it here. Know all about India's position as a Nuclear Power in the world
Created On: May 26, 2021 15:00 IST
Modified On: May 26, 2021 16:22 IST

What is Nuclear Energy?

Nuclear energy is the energy in the nucleus, which is the core of any atom. There is a vast amount of energy in the atom's nucleus. This energy can be generated through a fission process that means breaking the nucleus. 

In nuclear fission, atoms are split to release the energy. A nuclear reactor or a plant has machines that can control nuclear fission and produce electricity. 

The fuel that is mainly used to produce nuclear fission is pellets of Uranium.

How is Nuclear Energy Generated?

Nuclear energy is produced by splitting atoms in a reactor to heat water into steam. This turns a turbine that generates electricity. 

Benefits of Nuclear Energy:

  1. Nuclear energy maintains safety and nonproliferation standards globally.
  2. Nuclear energy can help fight climate change as it provides large amounts of 24/7 carbon-free electricity.
  3. Nuclear energy ensures a deterrence in neighbouring countries and around the world as the energy that can be used for a civic purpose can also be used for military purposes.
  4. Nuclear energy produces clean electricity reliably. 
  5. Nuclear energy helps developing nations meet sustainable development goals as it helps in reducing carbon emissions.

What is the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT)?

NPT is a multilateral treaty that came into force on 5th March 1970 and has 191 states that are party to it. It is aimed at limiting the spread of nuclear weapons along with the following elements: 

1) Non-proliferation

2) Disarmament

3) Peaceful use of nuclear energy.

The points mentioned above  form  the grand bargain among the five nuclear weapon states and the non-nuclear weapon states.

The provisions include these basically:

  1. States without nuclear weapons would not acquire them;
  2. States with nuclear weapons would pursue disarmament;
  3. All states can access nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, under safeguards.

India is not a party to NPT. Along with it, Pakistan and Israel are also among the countries who have not signed the treaty.

Nuclear Supplier Group:

  1. This was established in the year 1975 and comprises 48 states that have voluntarily signed the agreement to coordinate and control their export to non nuclear states.
  2. NSG also governs the transfer of civilian nuclear material along with equipment and nuclear technology to others. 
  3. The main aim of NSG is prevention of exports of nuclear material for both commercial and peaceful processes so that they are not modified into nuclear weapons. 
  4. The following countries are a participant in it:

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The guidelines of NSG state that any non-NPT country cannot be a part of NSG which keeps India out of the group. 

India is the only one country to receive a waiver from NSG despite being a non signatory of NPT. India is demonstrated as a credential and a responsible nuclear power state. 

123 Agreement:

Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act of the USA requires the conclusion of a peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement for transferring any kind of nuclear material from the USA. These are commonly called the 123 Agreements. 

This agreement facilitates cooperation in fields such as technical exchanges, scientific research and leaves way for discussions.

It along with NPT allows US to enforce the NPT principles on non following countries too that become a party to the agreement. 

The agreement has been signed with 48 countries including India. For India, the agreement is valid from 6th December 2008 till 6th December 2048 with rolling 10-year extensions. 

Below is a picture showing the member states of 123 Agreement:

123 Agreement

The International Atomic Energy Agency:

IAEA or the International Atomic Energy Agency is the world’s only intergovernmental forum that is meant for scientific and technical co-operation in the field of nuclear energy.

The agency’s work is to ensure safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear science and technology. This in turn, contributes to world peace and security by securing United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

It was created in 1957 in response to the increasing generation and usage of nuclear power. As per the information on IAEA's official page, "the Agency’s genesis was U.S. President Eisenhower’s 'Atoms for Peace' address to the General Assembly of the United Nations on 8 December 1953."

Also Read| List of Nuclear Power Plants in India 2021

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