Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


India's Nuclear Power Reactors

India is a member of IAEA, and has a bilateral agreement with US on peaceful nuclear cooperation. India has not signed the NPT and has generally resisted the imposition of safeguards by individual suppliers (this has led to difficulties with supply of enriched uranium, reactor equipment, and heavy water). Indian policy is to achieve self-sufficiency in CANDU-type and LWR fuel cycle--uranium mining and milling, conversion to UO2, fuel fabrication, reprocessing (in small plants adjacent to power stations).

Adequate resources of uranium have been identified by the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd. to meet the requirements of India's currently envisaged nuclear power program. There are four promising uranium mining areas in India: the Singhbhum district (Bihar), West Khasi hills (Meghalaya), the Bhima Basin area (Gulbarga district of Karnataka), and the Yellapur- Peddagattu area of Nalgonda district (Andhra Pradesh). If enriched UF6 supply for India's BWRs is cut off, they may fuel with UO2-PuO2.

India turned to Canada-a country with extensive experience in building and operating experimental heavy-water reactors-for assistance in developing its commercial nuclear industry. As a result, 8 of the 10 currently operating nuclear plants employ CANDU-style heavy water reactors. The uranium fuel rods used in India's heavy-water nuclear power plants can be processed to extract plutonium that can be used in nuclear weapons. Normally for electrical power production the uranium fuel remains in the reactor for three to four years, which produces a plutonium of 60 percent or less Pu-239, 25 percent or more Pu-240, 10 percent or more Pu-241, and a few percent Pu-242. The Pu-240 has a high spontaneous rate of fission, and the amount of Pu-240 in weapons-grade plutonium generally does not exceed 6 percent, with the remaining 93 percent Pu-239. Higher concentrations of Pu-240 can result in pre-detonation of the weapon, significantly reducing yield and reliability. For the production of weapons-grade plutonium with lower Pu-240 concentrations, the fuel rods in a reactor have to be changed frequently, about every four months or less. Indian heavy water reactors do not have to be shut down in order to change fuel rods. Consequently, India could be harvesting weapons-grade plutonium from its commercial power plants by changing some of the fuel rods often without producing readily visible indicators.

BARC has developed comprehensive technology for industrial operations in fuel reprocessing and waste management. Reprocessing plants are operational in Trombay and Tarapur. Another plant will soon be commissioned at Kalpakkam. A comprehensive waste management technology for handling and safe disposal of all types of waste generated in the nuclear industries has been developed by the Center.

India has agreements with several countries on various aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle. Among them, signed in mid-1990, agreements with Vietnam (pilot plant for monazite processing supplied by India) and Cuba (Cuban scientists being trained in nuclear power generation in India) for expanded cooperation in nuclear energy. In January 1996, India signed agreements with Brazil and Thailand to help those countries develop their nuclear energy programs. In December 1995, Russia's Ministry for Atomic Energy agreed to provide technical assistance for India's nuclear program. India has declined to sign either the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty.

India has nine operational nuclear reactors and another eight under development. At the beginning of 1995, total net nuclear generating capacity was 1,493 megawatts (MW), although actual utilization rates are estimated at under 30 percent. Planned reactors will add a projected 1,100 MW of capacity, and Indian officials estimate that the country has enough uranium supplies to support a nuclear power program of 8,000 MW. In mid-1995, designs for the $636-million, 500-MW Tarapur-3 power plant were completed. The Maharashtra site currently has two operable units with a combined capacity of 300 MW. A fourth, 500-MW unit also is anticipated. India's Atomic Energy Commission projects an increase of 880-MW in the country's nuclear generating capacity by 1998. This will occur with the completion of the Kaiga-1 and -2 units and the Kata-3 and -4 plants, which are located in Karnataka and Rajasthan, respectively.

In 1995, India had an installed electrical generating capacity of 81 gigawatts (GW), of which 73 percent was thermal. This is the world's sixth largest capacity and equal to that of France and the United Kingdom. India's power sector has grown at an average annual rate of 8.8 percent since 1950, when installed capacity was only 2.3 GW. About 85 percent of the country was electrified in 1995. Despite the dramatic increase in power generation capabilities, India has been unable to keep up with its domestic demand for electricity. In the 1995/96 fiscal year, power demand increased by 10 percent. During the same period, there was only an 8 percent increase in generation capacity. India's power shortages have resulted in a number of problems, including involuntary load shedding, voltage reductions, and the installation by industry of standby captive capacity.

The government estimates that the country will need 142 GW of new capacity by 2005. The current five-year development plan, in effect since 1992, called for adding 48 GW of electrical generating capacity to its then existing capacity of 75 GW. In 1994, this goal was lowered to 30 GW. India's electricity is generated overwhelmingly by coal (70 percent). Hydroelectricity ranks a distant second (about 25 percent), followed by natural gas, nuclear power, oil, and renewables. India plans to add to its current nuclear capacity of 1.7 gigawatts (GW), with plans to have 5.7 GW of nuclear generating capacity operating or under construction by 2000.

Location Unit Namea Capacity
(net MWe) b
Utilityc Typed Reactor Suppliere Percent Completef Expected / Actual Date of Operation
Kaiga,
Karnataka
Kaiga 1 202NP PHWR NPCIL 7511/1998 1999
Kaiga 2 202NP PHWR NPCIL 7511/1998 2000
Kakrapar,
Gujarat
Kakrapar 1 202NP PHWR DAE/NPCIL 10011/1992
Kakrapar 2 202NP PHWR DAEC/NPCIL 10003/1995
Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu Kalpakkam 1 155NP PHWR DAE 10007/1983
Kalpakkam 2 155NP PHWR DAE 10009/1985
Kota,
Rajasthan
Rajasthan 1 90NP PHWR AECL 10011/1972
Rajasthan 2 187NP PHWR AECL/DAE 10011/1980
Rajasthan 3 202NP PHWR NPCIL 7011/1998 2000
Rajasthan 4 202NP PHWR NPCIL 7005/1999 2000
Rajasthan 5 450NP PWHR -- 020072008
Rajasthan 6 450NP PWHR -- 020082009
Kudankulam,
Tamil Nadu
Kudankulam 1 1,000 NP PWR -- 020062008
Kadunkulam 2 1,000 NP PWR -- 020082010
Narora,
Uttar Pradesh
Narora 1 202NP PHWR DAE/NPCIL 10007/1989
Narora 2 202NP PHWR DAE/NPCIL 10001/1992
Tarapur,
Maharashtra
Tarapur 1 150NP BWR GE 10004/1969
Tarapur 2 150NP BWR GE 10005/1969
Tarapur 3 450NP PHWR NPCIL 1008/2003 2004
Tarapur 4 450NP PHWR NPCIL 205/2004 2006
aThe Energy Information Administration's review of the latest data sources may have resulted in revisions of names, capacities, and operation dates. For the United States, revisions are based on the Form-860 "Annual Electric Generator Report."
bMWe = Megawatts-electric.
cNuclear Power Corporation of India, LTD
dReactor Types: APWR, advanced pressurized light-water-moderated and cooled reactor; BWR, boiling light-water-cooled and moderated reactor; LGR, light-water-cooled, graphite-moderated reactor; PHWR, pressurized heavy-water-moderated and cooled reactor; PWR, pressurized light-water-moderated and cooled reactor.
e GE - General Electric Company [ United States ]
DAE Department of Atomic Energy, India
NPCI - Nuclear Power Corporation of India, Ltd.
fPercent complete is an estimate of how close the nuclear unit was to completion as of December 31, 1996.
gPublished date is the estimated date of commercial operation.
hEIA projection refers to when a nuclear unit is estimated to become operable. A dash (--) indicates that the estimated year of operability is beyond the year 2015.

Sources: International Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Power Reactors in the World (Vienna, Austria, April 1997); Nuclear News, "World List of Nuclear Power Plants" (March 1997), pp. 37-52. NAC International, "Nuclear Generation," (February 1997), Section F, pp. 1-43; Form EIA-860 "Annual Electric Generator Report."




NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list