The Nuclear Regulatory Commission decided in closed session yesterday to vote either tomorrow or Friday on whether to approve the shipment of 19 tons of enriched uranium to India.
While the commissioners would not disclose how they plan to vote, it is expected that the panel, will deny the export license on grounds that India has not compiled with the Non-Proliferation Act of 1978. If the vote is taken this week, four of the five commissioners will be present. Commissioner Richard Kennedy is out of the country.
The Non-Proliferation Act bans shipment of uranium to countries that have not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which prohibits the spread of nuclear weapons, or did not open up to international inspection all nuclear facilities by last March. India has done neither.
If the NRC votes to deny the export license, the question of shipment moves to the White House where President Carter probably would override such a vote and approve shipment. The issue then would go to Congress, which would have 60 days to issue a joint resolution to block the shipment.
The 19 tons of uranium represent the first of two licenses for India to come before the NRC. A second shipment of 19 tons will be taken up by the NRC in the next few months.
The 38 tons of enriched uranium are enough to supply about two years of fuel for India's nuclear power station at Tarapur, north of Bombay. It is understood that India has about 50 tons of fuel in inventory. Thus the new shipments would extend its supply to almost five years.