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India Poised for Major Expansion of Nuclear Power


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India will see a large increase in nuclear-power generation in the coming years, helping the country bridge its huge energy deficit and combat climate change. India says global efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons have failed.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says the global nuclear industry will have huge opportunities in India, as the country could have a hundred-fold increase in nuclear energy generation, in the next four decades.

Addressing an international conference on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in New Delhi, Tuesday, Mr. Singh said that India's nuclear energy industry is poised for major expansion.

"If we can manage our program well, our three-stage strategy could yield potentially 470,000 megawatts of power, by the year 2050," he said. "This will sharply reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and will be a major contribution to global efforts to combat climate change."

Many companies from countries like United States and France have been eyeing the opportunity to build nuclear power plants in India since an international ban on civil nuclear trade with the country was lifted last year.

India hopes a massive increase in cleaner nuclear power will help it to check greenhouse gas emissions and cut its dependence on oil, most of which it imports.

The conference in New Delhi also focused on the issue of nuclear disarmament. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed El-Baradei, who attended the conference, says nuclear disarmament has moved to the top of the international agenda after a couple of what he calls "wasted decades." He says plans by the United States and Russia to resume talks on reducing their nuclear arsenals could contribute to efforts to rid the world of such weapons.

Prime Minister Singh criticized the existing global non-proliferation program, saying it has failed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. The cornerstone of this is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which considers only five countries as nuclear-weapons powers.

Mr. Singh's comments come in the wake of a United Nations Security Council resolution calling on all countries to sign the treaty. The American-backed resolution, passed last week, has raised concerns that India will come under pressure to join the treaty, to which it is not a signatory.

"Its deficiencies, in fact, have had an adverse impact on our security," said Singh. "Global non proliferation, to be successful, should be universal, comprehensive and non-discriminatory and linked to the goal of complete nuclear disarmament."

India has said there is no question of its joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a nuclear weapon state, saying nuclear weapons are an integral part of its national security.