Friday, April 10, 2015

Currying favour with India

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is modish at the moment in the Canadian press, partly because of his upcoming state visit here, but partly because of the uranium deal he hopes to strike with Canada, either before, during, or soon after that visit.
In what is usually described as a "rapprochement" - but what is in fact much more than that - the Harper government overturned 40 years of cool distance between the two countries when it struck the Canada-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement back in 2013. This agreement effectively opened the way for Canada to recommence exporting nuclear fuel to India for the first time since this was banned way back in the 1970s (when India tested a nuclear bomb using plutonium produced by a CANDU reactor). This agreement could finally come to fruition with a uranium deal during Modi's upcoming visit.
Of course, this is happening at a time when Modi, an outspoken Hindu nationalist, has recently come to power, and the world has very little idea of just how stable (or unstable) he will prove to be. Modi is often described as "wildly popular" and a "rock-star politician", but Sikhs throughout the world hate him vehemently for his part in the violent repression of Sikhs in Gujurat state after the riots of 2002, and it is anyone's guess how his relations with next-door Islamic nemesis (and fellow nuclear power), Pakistan, will develop.
Modi is already making moves to ban the slaughter of cows throughout India in order to placate Hindu religionists, even though India is the world’s second largest beef exporter and its fifth biggest consumer. How he deals with Pakistan is still very much up in the air. And, remember, neither India nor Pakistan have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty...
Personally, I wouldn't trust the guy further than the end of the street, and this seems to me to be a really bad time to be extending nuclear trade relations to India in an attempt to curry favour (sorry!) with Indian-Canadian voters, and to make a few fast bucks for the languishing Canadian uranium and nuclear power industry.

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