Everything about nuclear energy, the NPT, the NSG, the 123 agreement and the IAEA


What is nuclear energy?

Nuclear energy is the energy of the nucleus, which is the heart of any atom. There is a large amount of energy in the nucleus of the atom. This energy can be generated through a fission process which means breaking down the nucleus.

In nuclear fission, atoms are separated to release energy. A nuclear reactor or a power station has machines capable of controlling nuclear fission and producing electricity.

The fuel mainly used to produce nuclear fission consists of uranium pellets.

How is nuclear energy produced?

Nuclear energy is produced by dividing atoms in a reactor to heat water into vapor. This turns a turbine which produces electricity.

Advantages of nuclear power:

  1. Nuclear power maintains global security and non-proliferation standards.
  2. Nuclear power can help fight climate change because it provides large amounts of carbon-free electricity 24/7.
  3. Nuclear power provides a deterrent in neighboring countries and around the world, as energy that can be used for civic purposes can also be used for military purposes.
  4. Nuclear power reliably produces clean electricity.
  5. Nuclear energy helps developing countries achieve sustainable development goals because it helps reduce carbon emissions.

What is the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)?

The NPT is a multilateral treaty that entered into force on March 5, 1970 and has 191 states party to it. It aims to limit the spread of nuclear weapons with the following elements:

1) Non-proliferation

2) Disarmament

3) Peaceful use of nuclear energy.

The points mentioned above constitute the great bargain between the five nuclear-weapon States and the non-nuclear-weapon States.

The provisions mainly include:

  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, subject to safeguards.

India is not a party to the NPT. At the same time, Pakistan and Israel are also among the countries that have not signed the treaty.

Group of nuclear suppliers:

  1. It was established in 1975 and includes 48 states that have voluntarily signed the agreement to coordinate and control their exports to non-nuclear states.
  2. The NSG also governs the transfer of civilian nuclear material as well as nuclear equipment and technology to others.
  3. The main objective of the NSG is to prevent exports of nuclear material for commercial and peaceful purposes so that they are not turned into nuclear weapons.
  4. The following countries are participating:

Germany, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, 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 , United Kingdom, and the United States.

The NSG guidelines state that no non-NPT country can be part of the NSG, which excludes India from the group.

India is the only country to receive a waiver from NSG although it is not a signatory to the NPT. India is demonstrated as a benchmark and a responsible nuclear power state.

123 Agreement:

Section 123 of the United States Atomic Energy Act requires the conclusion of a peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement for the transfer of all types of nuclear material from the United States. These are commonly referred to as the 123 chords.

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

It, along with the NPT, allows the United States to apply the principles of the NPT to non-subsequent countries that also become parties to the agreement.

The agreement has been signed with 48 countries including India. For India, the agreement is valid from December 6, 2008 to December 6, 2048 with rolling extensions of 10 years.

Below is an image showing the member states of Accord 123:

The International Atomic Energy Agency:

The IAEA or the International Atomic Energy Agency is the only intergovernmental forum in the world for scientific and technical cooperation in the field of nuclear energy.

The agency’s job is to ensure the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear science and technology. This in turn contributes to global peace and security by ensuring the sustainable development goals of the United Nations.

It was established in 1957 in response to the increasing production and use of nuclear power. According to the information on the official IAEA page, “the genesis of the agency was the ‘Atoms for Peace’ speech by US President Eisenhower to the United Nations General Assembly on December 8, 1953.”

Read also | List of nuclear power plants in India 2021

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