The Politics of CANDU Exports


320 pages
Contains Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-9091-5
DDC 382'.45621483'0971





Reviewed by Alex Curran

Alex Curran is a former member of both the National Advisory Board on
Science and Technology and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research
Council. He was chair of the Telecommunications Sectoral Advisory
Committee on Free Trade and the first recipien


At the end of World War II, the nuclear club consisted of only three
member states: the United States, Britain, and Canada. In assessing its
role, Canada chose to pursue peaceful objectives only. Since the largest
peaceful demand was for the generation and distribution of electrical
power, Canada chose to compete globally in that market using a unique
design known as CANDU (Canada Deuterium Uranium). Nuclear power at that
time was considered to be a clean source, essential to support the
aspirations of developing economies. Canada targeted such countries as
its primary customers and tied nuclear sales to aid programs. In 1952
AECL (Atomic Energy of Canada Limited) was created as a Crown
corporation to implement that business plan.

Conflicts emerged. Canada had renounced participation in military
applications of nuclear technologies. It would be hypocritical to
maintain that stance while allowing recipient countries to use the
products of Canada’s technology for such military applications. Thus,
as the supplier country, Canada subscribed to the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty, the UN’s nuclear safeguards term, and the
UN’s human-rights definitions. Therein lies a problem, for the terms
of these agreements were not available at the time of the first sales;
what terms existed were interpreted differently by Canada as supplier
and the recipient countries. Canada sought to change agreed-on
contractual terms when the UN issued more complete recommendations.
India in particular was incensed. In 1974 it activated its first nuclear
explosion created from plutonium, a by-product of CANDU.

The stage is set for a grand reconsideration of the terms and
conditions under which Canada might keep its principles intact, and
India and other recipient countries might find the freedom they desire
while the world remains safe from nuclear proliferation. That search is
the subject of this superbly documented yet easy-to-read book. It should
appeal to political science students and faculties, to managers of
enterprises with significant government involvement, and to those who
must negotiate enforceable contracts with offshore partners.


Bratt, Duane., “The Politics of CANDU Exports,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 2, 2023,