From Volume 37, Issue 7 of EIR Online, Updated Feb. 25, 2010
Asia News Digest

India-Russia Nuclear Cooperation Moves Ahead

Feb. 15 (EIRNS)—The visiting Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Sobyanin told RIA Novosti yesterday that Moscow and New Delhi are "working on an agreement between our states on cooperation in the field of the peaceful use of atomic energy. The agreement has already been initialed, and I am sure it will be signed during [Prime Minister] Vladimir Putin's visit to India middle of next month." According to Sobyanin, the development of atomic energy is one of the top priorities for India, and Russia "is ready to give it assistance in this."

The key to this agreement, is cooperation in order to speed up the development of commercial thorium reactors. India is already building a prototype reactor fuelled by fissile uranium-233, and bred from fissionable thorium-232. India is also breeding both uranium-233 and plutonium-239, both fissile materials, in fast-breeder reactors. These reactors have a judicious mix of fissile plutonium, which will act as the charger, and fertile zones inside the core; Indian nuclear scientists have shown that their design can breed not one, but two nuclear fuels: uranium-233 from thorium and plutonium-239 from depleted uranium-238, within the same reactor. India's 17 indigenous pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs) produce plutonium-239 as spent fuel.

This totally novel concept of fertile-to-fissile conversion has prompted its designers to christen the planned reactor as the Fast "Twin" Breeder Reactor. Their calculations show the sodium-cooled FTBR, while consuming 10.96 tons of plutonium to generate 1,000 MW of power, breeds 11.44 tons of plutonium and 0.88 tons of U-233 in a cycle length of two years.

India-Russia cooperation in the area of thorium-232 as reactor fuel has been progressing for some time. In 2000, the countries signed a protocol for cooperation in developing thorium-based nuclear fuel for use in the pressurized light water reactors now being supplied by the Russians for Koodankulam nuclear power plants in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. At present, the VVERs are designed for use with enriched uranium (about 6% of fissile U-235, and the rest, non-fissile U-238) as fuel. The second interesting aspect of the proposal records that the Kurchatov Institute had developed "a safe, low-cost, nuclear fuel design with thorium utilization for Russian VVER reactors that offers a nuclear fuel."

Marjah Offensive Spells Disaster for Troops and Civilians

Feb. 14 (EIRNS)—The U.S. offensive against the Taliban stronghold of Marjah in the opium capital of the world, Afghanistan's Helmand Province, has begun, as the commanders admit that the objective is not military, but psychological—except that many more pointless deaths will be the result. John McCreary, an advisor to Gen. Stanley McChrystal, told the London Times, "What Marjah is really all about is turning around the perception that we're losing.... It's an attempt to retake the information war."

U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen is reported by Reuters to have said today, in Israel, that "this is not focused on the Taliban, and it is a strategy not just to clear the area but to hold it and then build right behind so that there is a civilian component here and there is a local governance." The U.S. strategic hamlets of the Vietnam War come to mind—setting up U.S. troops and civilians as targets in a counterinsurgency war which is programmed to lose.

Another insane aspect of the plan is to "secure a 200-mile stretch of land up to the border with Pakistan, with the aim of forcing the Taliban to negotiate," according to the London Times.

The Times gloats: "Military strategists were puzzled that the enemy was being given so much detail." A source close to the Afghan government told EIR that there was a massive NATO publicity campaign through radio, television, print, and airdropped leaflets, providing details of the invasion, expecting the Taliban to flee or defect.

While most insurgents may have fled (with the opium crop, of course), the U.S. and British troops, and their Afghan Army allies, were greeted with fierce opposition. The Dawn quotes one Capt. Ryan Sparks comparing the intensity of the fighting to the bloody offensive against the Iraqi town of Fallujah in 2004.

India and South Korea Start Nuclear Cooperation

Feb. 16 (EIRNS)—South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's state visit to India during the week of Jan. 25, where he met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and was guest of honor at India Constitution Day festivities, has already begun to bear fruit.

South Korea and India are starting a program of exchanging engineering visits in the nuclear field. Six engineers from India's Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) arrived in South Korea today. Tomorrow, they will attend a seminar in Seoul on general atomic energy policies, safety and research, and development efforts. Later in the week, they will visit the Doosan Heavy Industry and Construction Co., which produces the APR1400 reactors, and the Gori nuclear power plant in Busan, and meet with their counterparts at state-run companies such as Korea Electric Power Corp., Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, and Korea Nuclear Fuel Co. South Korean experts plan to visit Mumbai to hold talks with their Indian counterparts early next month.

A knowledgeable Indian source informed EIR that, "What these Indian engineers are looking for is the South Korean capability to provide components for the nuclear power-related industry. The other day, India's Atomic Energy Commission told a media person: 'The pace of growth itself is challenging. The major challenge is the delivery of components by the industry for the new nuclear power plants. The government has sanctioned building of four more pressurized heavy water reactors (700 MW capacity).'"

A "decision on setting up five nuclear parks," the source related, in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, and Maharashtra, has been taken. Each one of these parks will house multiple reactors to have around 10,000 MW power generation capacity. The parks will also have facilities like reprocessing units."

India Offers China Security Cooperation in the Indian Ocean

Feb. 19 (EIRNS)—India's Minister of State for Defense Pallam Raju, in an interview with the Financial Times of London published today, offered Beijing protection by the Indian Navy to help China secure its ships in the Indian Ocean shipping lanes. Raju recognized that these shipping lanes are critical for both nations to meet their energy needs for its fast-growing economies.

Raju said New Delhi is prepared to collaborate with Beijing to guarantee safe passage of supplies: "China and India have similar interests to secure trade, particularly in regard to energy and resources."

Raju's statement followed quiet talks between Beijing and New Delhi following their joint anti-piracy naval operations off the Somali coast last year. There have been discussions of the need to improve support and supply arrangements in strategic locations for Chinese ships, notably in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.

If India and China progress quickly in providing each other the necessary security in these shipping lanes, the British, and their collaborators in both India and China with the British mind-set, will be struck a decisive blow. The British game is to keep India and China at each other's throats by keeping them engrossed with "issues," such as border disputes, or Tibet, or the Chinese arms and nuclear-related supplies to Pakistan.

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