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Evolution of the Indian Nuclear Power Program

Posted: 5 Nov 2011  

A. Gopalakrishnan

Harvard University

Date Written: November 2002


Abstract Presently, India occupies a leading place among Asian nations in the indigenous design, development, construction, and operation of nuclear power reactors. Nuclear power generation in India is based on a three-stage plan to eventually make use of the abundant national resources of thorium, through the use of fast breeder reactors. To achieve this long-range goal, India had to necessarily start with setting up heavy water-moderated, natural uranium-fueled power reactors to produce the plutonium required for the subsequent stages. But, as a result of India's nuclear weapon test in 1974, the developed nations imposed a comprehensive ban on the export of nuclear materials and technology to India, and these sanctions are still in force. This article outlines the steps followed by India to successfully counter these sanctions over the last 25 years and presents a critical evaluation of the potential problems and prospects of nuclear power in India.

Suggested Citation

Gopalakrishnan, A., Evolution of the Indian Nuclear Power Program (November 2002). Annual Review of Energy and the Environment, Vol. 27, pp. 369-395, 2002. Available at SSRN: or

A. Gopalakrishnan (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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