Videnskabshistorisk Selskab

Professor Jahnavi Phalkey,
Georgia Tech-Lorraine:

Accelerating for Peace: The American Decade of Nuclear Research in India (1964-1974)

On May 13 2008, the Heinrich Böll Foundation organised a workshop in Berlin called "The Proposal for Nuclear Trade with India". The meeting focused on the proposed Indo-US civilian nuclear energy cooperation deal to outline its implications for disarmament, especially "German and European non-proliferation efforts". The workshop took place less than a week before Germany took over leadership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and it became "an opportunity to address the particular role of Germany and Europe for upholding and strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime". Bilateral cooperation proposed by the USA with India has become a matter of ferocious debate in India, in the USA, and now in Europe. The current government in India risked a vote of confidence in a non-majority parliament, entirely against domestic opposition to signing this deal. The recognition of India as a "responsible nuclear state" by the George W. Bush administration was controversial when Iraq, Iran, and North Korea among others have faced international condemnation and serious consequences for maintaining a nuclear option in these very years. What, if anything, is special about Indian nuclear research, the bilateral relations between India and the USA in the field of nuclear research, and how does this play out in international politics today? My research proposes an entry into this timely question through an historical inquiry into the extension of nuclear research in India during what I call, the American Decade. In studying the trajectories of three laboratories supported by American funding and equipment, I hope to contextualise the nature of Indo-American cooperation in nuclear education and research towards making legible the unwritten script behind the claim that "India has conducted its civilian nuclear energy program in a safe and responsible way for decades."

The talk was scheduled for 19 May 2009, but was cancelled due to illness.

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