India’s worst enemy is at home

The nuclear developments in Germany over the past fortnight on the heels of the Fukushima crisis have grave implications for India.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel did a 180-degree turn on her decision of last year to extend the lifespan of Germany’s 17 nuclear plants and initiate further construction.

With overwhelming public concern for nuclear safety after Fukushima, she has now proclaimed that Germany will be free of nuclear power by 2022.

Currently only four of plants are on line. This was monumental as her policy snuggly embraced the burning atom as the panacea of long cold German winter power shortages.

Fukushima of course was largely influential in this about turn. The world watched with dropped jaws and crossed fingers as little men in white overalls look industrious, although I was convinced that they did not have the foggiest idea what they were doing; worse, what was happening, but it was reassuring.

What was not reassuring, in fact very destabilising, was that it was happening in the most technologically advanced country.

The world sees the Japanese as very clever and insanely organised, if not a little humourless. If such a thing could happen there, it could certainly happen in Germany. Indeed, they even share traits.

This is why the rest of the world certainly should not have nuclear power. The rest of us are dimwitted, disorganised and always up for a laugh.

Fragile Plants

But what has not been reported widely is the findings of the safety enquiry commissioned by Merkel to assess the structural integrity of the plants, which was the decider. Regardless that the tests were conducted with 30-year-old safety perimeters, they have concluded that none of the 17 nuclear plants could withstand a large plane crash and that seven of them would not withstand even a light aircraft!

This is terrible news for India. You do not have to take the bang to the enemy; the bang is already there when you take out his nuclear plants.

India is surrounded by strange neighbours. Pakistan should have been certified ‘an idiot nation’ years ago and China as ‘madly ambitious.’ Giving these countries the courtesy of constructing nuclear plants for use as bombs at their convenience is being far too hospitable.

Evil within

As Jawaharlal Nehru University International Politics & Disarmament Studies Professor Matin Zuberi said, “The core of a typical nuclear plant contains about 1000 times the radioactivity released by the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. A high explosive bomb used against it would acquire the attributes of a nuclear weapon without its blast effect.”

What worries me is that India could suffer an incalculably catastrophic disaster, not from powerful missiles dispatched by a highly militant neighbour but from some dribbling at the mouth nutter with a Cessna or a Tata Tempo, laden with explosives in the car park.

It is hugely ironic how delicate these plants are that harness such brutal power.

Roy Lange is a New Zealand citizen with a passion for India. He now lives and works across the Tasman. Email:

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