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IAEA-Indian Nuclear Safeguards Agreement: A Critical Analysis




Background Memo by Daryl G. Kimball, Fred McGoldrick, and Lawrence Scheinman

For Immediate Release: July 30, 2008

Press Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, Arms Control Association, (202) 463-8270 x107; and
Fred McGoldrick of Bengelsdorf, McGoldrick & Associates (617) 298-2024 or (508) 981-9112

On July 9, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) distributed the text of a proposed "umbrella" safeguards agreement between the Government of India and the IAEA that would cover a finite number of facilities that India will at some later point declare as "civilian." The proposed agreement Gov. 2008/3 dated 9 July 2008 is scheduled to be considered by the 35-nation IAEA Board of Governors August 1st.

The agreement is based on the IAEA's facility-specific safeguards (INFCIRC 66 Rev. 2 ) but contains a number of "India-specific" modifications that raise serious questions about the meaning and legal requirements established by the agreement, particularly as they affect its entry into force and the conditions under which safeguards may be terminated on facilities and materials subject to the agreement.

The Government of India has sought to avoid any limitations on its nuclear weapons program or the possibility of sanctions in the event that it decides to resume nuclear testing. For instance, citing language contained in the non-binding preamble and in certain operative sections of the agreement (Articles 52(c), 29, 30 (f), and 4), Indian officials have suggested that India could terminate IAEA safeguards if fuel supplies are cut off and/or take other unspecified "corrective actions," even if suppliers suspend or terminate nuclear exports to India because New Delhi renews nuclear testing.

IAEA Board members should reject such an interpretation, which is inconsistent with the articles of the agreement that specify the grounds for terminating or suspending safeguards. It would also be contrary to the principle that nuclear materials and facilities that are subject to IAEA safeguards agreements should remain under safeguards in perpetuity. If India does not publicly acknowledge that facilities and materials placed under safeguards may not be unilaterally withdrawn from safeguards, the IAEA Board should amend the proposed agreement to ensure that this is the clear and common interpretation of the agreement.

As discussed further below, it is absolutely essential that IAEA Board members obtain an official clarification of the legal effect of the agreement, as well as a full list of the facilities and items that would be covered by it, and that the Government of India publicly agrees to the interpretation before the Board takes a decision.


The proposed "India-Specific Safeguards Agreement" must be understood in the context of India's nuclear weapons status, its history, and the broader proposal for relaxing restrictions on civil nuclear trade with India first proposed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W. Bush in July of 2005.

As one of only three states never to have signed the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, India refuses to accept comprehensive (a.k.a. full-scope) IAEA safeguards on its nuclear facilities and materials. India has only allowed facility-specific IAEA safeguards at a handful of foreign-supplied reactors and nuclear facilities and nuclear materials, leaving its unsafeguarded military nuclear sector free to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons, and to design and produce nuclear warheads. India is estimated to possess enough separated fissile material for 60-100 nuclear warheads and potentially far more if foreign nuclear fuels supplies allow it to devote its limited domestic fuel supplies exclusively for weapons purposes.

In 1974, India exploded a nuclear warhead using plutonium produced by the CIRUS reactor in violation of peaceful nuclear use understandings with Canada and the United States. The event triggered the termination of most international civil nuclear assistance to India and led to the formation of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. In 1978, the United States adopted a law that formally bars nuclear trade with states that do not allow full-scope safeguards. In 1992, the NSG adopted similar restrictions.

With the support of the Bush administration, India is now seeking a new safeguards agreement that would be applied to an additional set of "civil" reactors and nuclear-related facilities in order to facilitate the resumption of nuclear trade with NSG states.

Contrary to the claims of some advocates of the arrangement, facility-specific safeguards on a few additional "civilian" reactors provide no serious nonproliferation benefits given the fact that India maintains a nuclear weapons program outside of safeguards and continues to produce fissile material.

Approval of the proposed new India-specific safeguards agreement would be followed by consideration by the NSG perhaps as soon as late-August or September of a U.S. proposal to exempt India from its guideline requiring comprehensive safeguards as a condition of nuclear supply. If the NSG decides by consensus to exempt India from this requirement, NSG members could export major nuclear items to India.

In the case of the United States, the Henry J. Hyde United States-India Peaceful Atomic Cooperation Act of 2006 defines the terms and conditions of possible future U.S. nuclear trade with India. It requires-among other steps-that "India has provided the United States and the IAEA with a credible plan to separate civil and military nuclear facilities, materials, and programs, and has filed a declaration regarding its civil facilities and materials with the IAEA." In addition, the Indian-IAEA safeguards agreement must apply to those facilities "in perpetuity in accordance with IAEA standards, principles, and practices, including IAEA BoG Document GOV/1621 ..."

Key Issues

The central question for the IAEA Board of Governors is whether the proposed India-specific safeguards agreement is consistent with IAEA standards and practices and whether there is a common understanding between the Government of India and the IAEA Board regarding the terms and conditions of the agreement.

Unfortunately, this is does not appear to be the case in three critical areas:

1. Termination of Safeguards: Indian government officials have implied that certain sections of preamble combined with specified operative articles of the agreement would allow India to withdraw certain facilities from the agreement if fuel supplies to India are interrupted.

The preamble notes that:

"India will place its civilian nuclear facilities under Agency safeguards so as to facilitate full civil nuclear cooperation ...and to provide assurance against the withdrawal of safeguarded nuclear material from civilian use at any time."

The preamble also notes, in part, that:

"An essential basis of India's concurrence to accept Agency safeguards under an India-specific safeguards agreement...is the conclusion of international cooperation arrangements creating the necessary conditions for India to obtain access to the international fuel market, including reliable, uninterrupted and continuous access to fuel supplies from companies in several nations, as well as support for an Indian effort to develop a strategic reserve of nuclear fuel to guard against any disruption of supply over the lifetime of India's reactors;"

Without defining the term "corrective measures," the preamble notes that:

"India may take corrective measures to ensure uninterrupted operation of its civilian nuclear reactors in the event of disruption of foreign fuel supplies."

Article 4 of the proposed India-IAEA safeguards agreement departs from standard INFCIRC 66 form by stating that:

"The application of safeguards under this Agreement is intended to facilitate implementation of relevant bilateral or multilateral arrangements to which India is a party, which are essential to the accomplishment of this Agreement."

While it is not unusual for safeguards agreements to refer to separate bilateral or multilateral arrangements, it is noteworthy that Article 4 says that these are "essential to the accomplishment of this Agreement." The Board of Governors should obtain an official clarification from the Government of India whether it takes the view that, if the "relevant bilateral or multilateral arrangements" have not been implemented fully, it could terminate the safeguards agreement, or selectively withdraw from safeguards indigenous reactors?

In fact, unilateral termination of safeguards is not permitted under the Agency's safeguards system, nor is unilateral termination by India explicitly provided for in the operative sections of the proposed India-IAEA safeguards agreement governing termination.

Specifically, Article 29 of the proposed Indian-IAEA safeguards agreement states that:

"The termination of safeguards on items subject to this agreement shall be implemented taking into account the provisions of GOV/1621."

According to operative paragraph 11, items subject to this agreement include facilities as well as nuclear material.

GOV1621 makes clear that safeguards may be terminated by the Agency only when the IAEA determines that the nuclear material is no longer safeguards relevant; that is if it has been consumed or exported or has reached a physical state where safeguards are no longer necessary given the chemical composition of the material. (1)

Furthermore, Articles 32 through 34 specify the circumstances under which safeguards may be terminated on nuclear material and facilities subject to the agreement. In the case of facilities safeguards may be terminated only if India and the Agency "jointly determine that the facility is no longer usable for any nuclear activity relevant from the view of safeguards."

Bottom line: the new Indian-IAEA safeguards agreement does not allow India to legally and unilaterally withdraw safeguarded nuclear materials or facilities from safeguards for any reason. Safeguards on nuclear material and facilities may be terminated only in accordance with the terms and conditions specified in Section E of the proposed India-IAEA safeguards agreement.

It is absolutely essential that IAEA Board members obtain an official clarification of the legal effect of the agreement, and that the Government of India publicly agrees to terms and conditions under which safeguards on nuclear material and nuclear facilities subject to the agreement may be terminated, before the Board takes a decision.

It is also essential that the Government of India fully explains what "corrective actions" it envisages to ensure an uninterrupted operation of its reactors in the event of disruption of foreign fuel supplies. If India takes the position that such corrective measures may involve the termination of the safeguards agreement or the application safeguards to certain facilities, IAEA Board members should reject this interpretation and move to strike the "corrective measures" reference.

In the realm of safeguards, there is no room for ambiguity.

If India takes the view that it may unilaterally withdraw from safeguards nuclear materials and facilities made subject to the proposed India-IAEA safeguards agreement, the IAEA Board should amend the proposed agreement to ensure there is no doubt whatsoever that termination of such safeguards must be a joint IAEA-India determination.

2. Absence of a Declaration Listing Items and Facilities & Entry Into Force:The proposed India-IAEA safeguards agreement does not contain a declaration of the facilities, items, and materials it is agreeing to place under safeguards. Article 13 states that:

"Upon entry into force of this Agreement, and a determination by India that all conditions conducive to the accomplishment of the objectives ... are in place, India shall file with the Agency a declaration, based on its sovereign decision to place voluntarily its civilian nuclear facilities under Agency safeguards in a phased manner."

The document, however, does not include a declaration of facilities. India is asking the Board of Governors to approve a safeguards agreement for an unspecified set of facilities. While India has recently circulated its separation plan listing the facilities that it proposes to place under the proposed India-IAEA safeguards agreement (INFCIRC/731dated 25 July 2008) and the years when it intends to place each facility on the safeguards inventory, it appears that India is reserving the right to amend or adjust the list or to delay the dates on which it promises to place facilities on the safeguards inventory ,depending on India's "access to the international fuel market, including reliable, uninterrupted and continuous access to fuel supplies from companies in several nations..."

This is the first time that the implementation of a safeguards agreement with the Agency would depend on purely commercial conditions. This proposed procedure would require the Board of Governors to take a decision on a safeguards agreement that may hinge upon the terms of undisclosed or not-yet-concluded bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements. What will happen if India is not satisfied with these supply agreements? Will India amend or reverse its commitment to place one or more facilities on the safeguards inventory of the proposed agreement?

The Board should not take a decision on the agreement until such time as India makes a formal Declaration. To the extent that India insists on withholding the Declaration pending the outcome of fuel supply commitments, it should clarify whether and how such supply agreements relate to Indian decisions to place facilities on the inventory of the proposed India-IAEA safeguards agreement.

3. Status of Material Subject to Safeguards Under Previous Agreements:Several states, including France, Canada, Russia, and the United States, have in the past provided fuel supplies and facilities under separate safeguards agreements to India. The IAEA Board of Governors and India should have the same understanding that the materials and facilities subject to those safeguards agreements shall remain under Agency safeguards and can only be terminated in accordance with the provisions in Articles 32 through 34 in the proposed India-IAEA safeguards agreement.


The proposed India-IAEA India safeguards agreement submitted to the Board contains several ambiguities and raises a number of fundamental questions. IAEA Board members should reject interpretations of the agreement that are contrary to the principle that nuclear materials and facilities that are subject to IAEA safeguards agreements should remain under safeguards in perpetuity.

It is also essential that India clarify its position on various ambiguous provisions of the proposed agreement, particularly those dealing with:

  1. the termination of safeguards;
  2. the relationship between "corrective measures" regarding commercial fuel supply arrangements and the continuity of safeguards; and
  3. the relationship between those supply arrangements and the willingness of India to place materials and facilities under the safeguards agreement that it is committed to on the time schedule it has promised.

Without proper clarification, the agreement would undermine the credibility of the IAEA and set a number of precedents that may have far reaching adverse consequences the non-proliferation regime.

Finally, there is no reason that the Board of Governors should be rushed into a hasty decision on this proposed safeguards agreement given its far-reaching implications.

1. GOV/1621 is a technical document developed in 1973 to help standardize the duration and termination of IAEA facility-specific safeguards agreements. The text is available from <http://armscontrol.org/system/files/GOV1621.pdf>.

# # #

Daryl G. Kimball is executive director of the Arms Control Association; Fred McGoldrick is a Principal of Bengelsdorf, McGoldrick, and Associates, LLC and was a senior official with the U.S. Department of State; Lawrence Scheinman is distinguished professor at the James C. Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Washington, D.C., and was assistant director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency during the Clinton administration.

Country Resources:

Transcript of Opening Presentations for “The Future of the Indian Nuclear Deal: Key Issues before the IAEA, NSG and US Congress”

Arms Control Association Press Briefing

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

National Press Club, Washington, D.C.

Panelists: Daryl G. Kimball, Sharon Squassoni, Ambassador Robert Grey

Daryl Kimball: Good morning everyone, my name is Daryl Kimball. I’m Executive Director of the Arms Control Association, and I’d like to welcome you to this morning’s briefing on the next steps relating to the proposal for nuclear cooperation with India. We, along with a coalition of dozens of other organizations here in the United States, more than 100 experts and organizations around the world from more than two dozen countries, have been working for months now, actually years, to try to adjust the terms of the proposal to exempt India from international safeguards governing nuclear trade in order to reduce what we see as the adverse impact of the proposal on the global non-proliferation system.

In two days, the International Atomic Energy Association Board of Governors will consider a proposal for an India specific safeguards agreement. Sometime thereafter, possibly as soon as the end of August, perhaps September, the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group will consider a proposal to exempt India, which has not signed the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968, from its comprehensive safeguard standard of nuclear supply. That means that India has not agreed to allow international safeguards over the entirety of its nuclear infrastructure.

So, decision time for the 45 members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group as well as the 35 members of the Board of Governors of the IAEA has arrived. We’re here to highlight what we see as the key problems with the proposal and to identify steps – including restrictions and conditions – on future possible nuclear trade with India that we believe should be adopted by the Board of Governors and especially the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Many of these restrictions and conditions, I would add, have been identified and mandated in the 2006 US implementing legislation on this issue, the Henry Hyde Act.

Now, this morning we have two experts, who along with me, are going to go through these issues. First, I will discuss issues relating to the decisions and issues that the IAEA Board of Governors is going to have to consider, especially in connection with the safeguards agreement. And then we’ll hear from Sharon Squassoni who is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who has followed this very carefully as an analyst with the Congressional Research Service in 2005, 2006 and part of 2007. She is going to address the issues that the Nuclear Suppliers Group has to face. And then we are going to hear from Ambassador Robert Grey, former U.S. Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, about the bigger issues that are at stake here so that we don’t lose sight of what this is really all about, which is the future of US. and international efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons and to reduce and eventually eliminate the threat posed by nuclear weapons.

So, let me begin by talking about the issues relating to the safeguards agreement that is now before the IAEA Board of Governors. The agreement that the Indian government has negotiated with the IAEA Secretariat would presumably cover only about eight additional reactors and some additional facilities. However, there is no guarantee what this agreement would actually cover because the agreement does not include a declaration of the facilities that would be covered by the agreement. This is unprecedented. This is unusual. And in our view, the Board of Governors should not be making a decision on this agreement until it’s clear which facilities will be covered by the agreement.

Now, we should also keep in mind that safeguards covering only a portion of a nation’s nuclear infrastructure are of almost no real non-proliferation value especially in India’s case because India has nuclear weapons and has very large set of facilities that are devoted to the production of fissile material for weapons and the design and production of nuclear weapons.

Even more troubling, India asserts that in the preamble and combined with certain sections of the operative portion of the agreement, the agreement allows it to withdraw certain reactors from safeguards if fuel supplies are interrupted, even if fuel supplies are interrupted because India has conducted a nuclear test explosion. But in the analysis that I wrote with Fred McGoldrick, who is a former State Department official who has negotiated most of the United States’ nuclear cooperation agreements with other countries notes, this is an incorrect interpretation of the safeguards agreement. Our co-author was Lawrence Scheinman, who was former Deputy Director of the U.S. Arms Control Disarmament Agency. (See <http://www.armscontrol.org/node/3205>.)

More importantly, this interpretation that India is asserting would be inconsistent with the principle of permanent safeguards. Before the IAEA Board takes a decision on the safeguards agreement we believe it’s essential that the IAEA, India, the United States, and other Board members to clarify what the interpretation of this agreement is with regard to the possible termination of safeguards over the facilities and materials that India will be putting under safeguards. And if necessary, the IAEA Board of Governors should insist upon amending the agreement to remove any ambiguities that do still exist.

Second, another red flag in the safeguards agreement is how fuel supply assurances have been woven in the text of this agreement. Never before has a safeguards agreement been contingent upon commercial considerations. Essentially what India has negotiated in the preamble is that the application of safeguards over these facilities is contingent upon the continuation of fuel supplies by other states for India’s fuel civil reactors.

What are they worried about? They are worried about a cut off of fuel supplies in the event that India might resume nuclear testing in the future. Now, this is extremely troubling to us because the IAEA Board and NSG countries should not be complicit in helping India find ways to evade the penalties that might occur if India does resume nuclear testing. There should be a clarification about whether the countries that might be engaging in bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements with India like the US, Russia and France intend to supply India with continuous supplies even if India resumes nuclear testing, or if they intend o help India amass a strategic fuel reserve that would help India overcome any future cut-off in nuclear testing.

And it’s also important to note in the context of this broader debate that this approach to the safeguards agreement and to this entire arrangement flatly contradicts provisions that were in the Henry Hyde Act that was passed by Congress in 2006, and specifically a provision that was championed and authored by none other than Senator Barack Obama.

The Hyde Act stipulates that U.S. fuel supplies to India be limited to reasonable reactor operating requirements. In other words, don’t supply India with multi-year fuel supplies that would allow India to overcome a fuel supply interruption if the US cuts off nuclear cooperation with India if they test. There is a copy of a very important exchange between Senator Obama and Senator Lugar, who was then the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from September 16, 2006 on the table in the back. It is crystal clear what Senator Obama, Senator Lugar and the rest of Congress meant in their policy language and restrictions that were put in the Henry Hyde Act.

So let me stop there. Let me turn over the podium to Sharon Squassoni who’s going to take us through the key issues that the Nuclear Suppliers Group should contemplate as the United States approaches them with the proposal to exempt India from their full-scope safeguards standard of supply. Sharon.

Sharon Squassoni: Thank you, Daryl. How many of you are familiar with the Nuclear Suppliers Group? We have an educated crowd, that’s terrific. As you know, they usually have their plenary, their main meeting, in May every year, and so what is happening right now is an effort to convene the entire Nuclear Suppliers Group at the end of August and possibly once again in September just to consider the India safeguards agreement.

You might also know that the NSG operates by consensus and so there will be tremendous pressure to lobby all the member states to agree on what the US and India want, which is a clean exemption. That is, the NSG will decide that there will be no conditions on trade with India whatsoever.

Here in the United States we tend to think, “Gee, when the nuclear cooperation agreement gets here, that’s the end-game, Congress will make a decision one way or another.” But in reality, for India, the end-game is the Nuclear Suppliers Group decision. Once the nuclear suppliers group says “yes,” India will be free to go and get mostly what it needs, which is uranium for its reactors. India will be able to trade with other states. And France and Russia will be waiting in line to supply India with nuclear trade. So that’s the end-game.

The NSG has important considerations to think about. As Daryl has pointed out, it’s in the U.S. interest and in U.S. law to cut off nuclear trade with a state that tests a nuclear weapon. But, it is also in the NSG’s interest and here’s why. India freely admits that its nuclear weapons program was born of its civilian nuclear power program. It has said this in the most recent document it gave to the IAEA. It was the 1974 nuclear test that so shocked the world that the United States lobbied to create the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

India has insisted all along that any nuclear deal not impinge on its ability to conduct future nuclear tests, even as it has promised to adhere to a unilateral test moratorium. But its emphasis on the continuity of nuclear fuel supply can only have one motivation: it does not want a repeat in the cut off of nuclear trade that it experienced in the 1970s. A nuclear test by India would prompt a response by Pakistan and thus new instability in South Asia.

NSG states really need to avoid arrangements that would enable or encourage further nuclear testing by India. Therefore, they must create a condition that would stop nuclear exports if India tests again. This is a minimum in my view.

This is analogous to a rule they adopted, I think it was two years ago, to halt countries who were not in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation treaty obligations. Now obviously India isn’t a party to the NPT, so it needs a little further strengthening. Otherwise there are no penalties for future proliferation actions by India. They will simply be given a green light to import.

There’s another issue that the NSG should address and that is to restrict what we call sensitive nuclear technology transfers between NSG members and India. What this means is uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing. India has such facilities but it has not placed them under international safeguards. It has one reprocessing facility which is already under what we call intermittent safeguards. Even if those facilities were safeguarded, there would be no way to prevent the transfer of know-how from the safeguarded facility to their military program because the safeguards don’t track know-how, they track material and equipment. This means that any nuclear weapons state that engages in such cooperation with India, that is on enrichment or reprocessing, even though it might be under safeguards, could potentially be violating Article I of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which says you will not aid assist encourage in any way a state in acquiring or developing nuclear weapons.

This is not an idle, abstract issue. The Nuclear Suppliers Group has struggled for the past four years with new criteria for restricting enrichment or reprocessing transfers. And every time it gets close, states balk because they don’t want to be in what’s considered the “loser category,” the category of not being able to have this technology. The best step that the NSG could take now would be to draw the line first with India, which is not a party to the NPT, and should not be benefiting from any such cooperation.

There are certainly other conditions that the nuclear suppliers group might take up. For example, conditioning trade with India upon India completing an additional protocol, which is the safeguard strengthening measures that have been adopted by many states. In fact, the United States requires this as a condition of its cooperation. But I think the two on cutting off in the event of a test and no enrichment or reprocessing technology are the main ones that it needs to consider. Thank you.

Daryl Kimball: Thank you, Sharon. Bob, if you could come up to the podium to conclude our opening remarks then we will go to your questions.

Ambassador Robert Grey:
Basically what we’re dealing with here is the United States has really given India a blank check to proceed to go around all of the safeguards agreements in the NPT and other agencies. And now it seems to me we are trying to assist them in cashing that check at another bank, the Nuclear Suppliers Group. This is not a good idea.

This is still another example, and perhaps the most egregious example, of this sort of foreign policy by unilateral fiat. The NPT has a long history. It is almost as important as a UN charter in terms of protecting non-proliferation interest. We have been a leader in this for years, and now suddenly we’re taking another stance.

It’s bad for another reason too. We are walking away from a treaty that more than 180 countries have joined, just opening a huge hole, a gap in it. The argument seems to be that some people are exempt from the rules because they’re good fellows and other guys are bad fellows and have to adhere to the rules.

So it’s a selective sort of a process which really undermines the whole series of international cooperative agreements that we’ve negotiated over the years. It’s an unmitigated disaster in terms of non-proliferation policy and the so-called rule of law.

And more importantly it seems to me that if one is going to make changes like this, that it should be a function of the entire membership of the non-proliferation community, the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty signatories, not the Nuclear Suppliers Group which is a very limited number of states.

And that is why I’m deeply concerned about the future of the non-proliferation regime if this goes through. If we say the Indians are good fellows and they should get a special exemption, what’s to keep the Chinese from pushing Pakistan or somebody else? We’re just opening up the door here to Pandora’s Box in the most outrageous and egregious manner.

And frankly, whatever the Hyde Act says, if they pull this off in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, we’re going to be faced with a fait accompli, there’s not much the Congress can do about it at this stage in the game. So, in the overall interest of the United States and the investment we’ve had in this non-proliferation regime, at a time when we are dealing with other people who are potentially trying to go nuclear, this is precisely the wrong thing to do at the wrong time.

And so, I very much hope that the Nuclear Suppliers Group and other responsible countries will prevent us creating an act of folly on the part of this administration. It would be a disaster in the long term for the United States if this were to be done. We’re just flying in the face of something we’ve worked on for thirty years.

Now, the NPT is not a perfect agreement. We have to get better safeguards for the civilian side of it. We’ve got to get additional protocols and all sorts of things. But you don’t throw out a whole system that you’ve built up painfully over thirty, forty years just on a whim because you want to establish some sort of a so-called strategic relationship with a country that, frankly, which has always been very good at protecting its own national interests. And it’s not about to do anything in the international arena in the years to come that’s going to make it an ally of the United States. The Indians have a very strong tradition of acting like the British. They have no friends but they have permanent interests. I wish sometimes the United States would act like that. Thank you.

Daryl Kimball: Thank you very much, Ambassador Grey. I hope that was clear.

Let me just conclude by bringing this together and making one overall comment and then describing what we think, among other things, the Nuclear Suppliers Group should do.

First of all, we shouldn’t lose sight, as Ambassador Grey was saying, that contrary to the claims, the Orwellian claims of the advocates of this proposal, the nuclear deal fails to bring India further into conformity with the norms and standards that are expected of other states in the international community. And just two specific examples, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which 178 countries including the United States signed, and a cut-off of fissile material for nuclear weapons. If, as Prime Minister Singh said back on July 18th 2005, India would “assume the same responsibilities and practices” as other countries with advanced nuclear capabilities, I do not see why India should not be asked, urged or required as part of this arrangement to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty or take on some other legally binding obligation not to test. Nor do I see a reason why India should not be urged, asked or required to stop the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons before the NSG agrees to engage in civil nuclear trade. India already has enough fissile material to make 60-100 nuclear bombs.

So what should the NSG do? To conclude and summarize, if NSG states should agree to supply fuel to India, they should:

First, establish a policy that if India resumes nuclear testing, or violates its safeguards agreements, trade involving nuclear items with India should be terminated and unused fuel supplies should be returned.

Second, NSG states should expressly prohibit any transfer of sensitive reprocessing, enrichment, or heavy water production items or technology whether that is inside or outside bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements.

Third, NSG states should actively oppose any arrangement that would give India any special safeguards exemptions that would in any way be inconsistent with the principle of permanent safeguards over all nuclear materials and facilities. NSG states should not take any decision unless India and the IAEA conclude a meaningful additional protocol to its “umbrella” facility specific safeguards agreement.

Fourth, before India is granted a waiver from the NSG’s full-scope safeguards standards, it should join with four of the five orgininal nuclear weapons states in declaring that it has stopped fissile material production. And NSG states should insist that India transform its nuclear test moratorium pledge into a legally binding pledge, perhaps by signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

So, this is a time for NSG governments to stand up and be counted in order to prevent further damage to the nuclear non-proliferation system.

We will stop there and open the floor to your questions.

Country Resources:

GOV/1620 IAEA Document on Duration and Termination of Safeguards


Item l(b) of the provisional agenda

1966 AND 1968)
Memorandum by the Director General

Document published 20 August 1973. 

Country Resources:

A Nonproliferation Disaster


Commentary by Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala and Daryl G. Kimball on the Draft Indian-IAEA Safeguards Agreement

For Immediate Release: July 10, 2008
Press Contacts: Wade Boese , (202) 463-8270 x104 and Peter Crail, (202) 463-8270 x102

(Washington, D.C.): Two leading nonproliferation experts stated today that governments committed to reducing global nuclear dangers have a responsibility to modify or block a proposed arrangement to facilitate increased global nuclear commerce with India, which has refused to forswear nuclear testing or halt its nuclear weapons production activities. Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala, former UN undersecretary general for disarmament affairs, and Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the nonpartisan Arms Control Association, issued their call in a statement published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Dhanapala and Kimball stated, “Contrary to the claims of its advocates, the deal fails to bring India further into conformity with the nonproliferation behavior expected of the member states of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Unlike 178 other countries, India has not signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). It continues to produce fissile material and expand its arsenal.”

They noted that “India is seeking an ‘India-specific’ safeguards agreement that could, depending on how it is interpreted, allow India to cease [International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)] scrutiny if fuel supplies are cut off even if that is because India renews nuclear testing. In the preamble of the proposed safeguards agreement, which was distributed yesterday, India states that it may take unspecified ‘corrective actions’ to ensure fuel supplies in the event that they are interrupted. IAEA board members should get clarification before taking a decision and reject any interpretation that is inconsistent with the principle of permanent safeguards over all nuclear materials and facilities.”

In addition, the two experts stated, “given that India maintains a nuclear weapons program outside of safeguards, facility-specific safeguards on a few additional ‘civilian’ reactors provide no serious nonproliferation benefits. States should insist that India conclude a meaningful additional protocol safeguards regime before the [Nuclear Suppliers Group] takes a decision on exempting India from its rules.”

They concluded, “the Indian nuclear deal would be a nonproliferation disaster, especially now. The NPT is in jeopardy and diplomatic efforts to address the nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran are at a delicate stage. For those world leaders who are serious about ending the arms race, holding all states to their international commitments, and strengthening the NPT, it is time to stand up and be counted.”

The full commentary is available here. The draft Indian-IAEA safeguards agreement is available at http://www.armscontrol.org/pdf/20080709_India_safeguards.pdf .

Country Resources:

India-IAEA Agreement for the Application of Safeguards to Civilian Nuclear Facilities

Posted here is a copy of the agreement between India and the International Atomic Energy Agency on the application of safeguards to civilian nuclear facilities. Click on the right for the document.

Country Resources:

LOOKING BACK: The 1998 Indian and Pakistani Nuclear Tests

Michael Krepon

Ten years ago, the governments of India and Pakistan tested nuclear devices, prompting a global uproar, a united front by the five permanent members (P-5) of the UN Security Council, and stiff sanctions directed at New Delhi and Islamabad. Although the timing of the tests came as a surprise to the U.S. intelligence community, New Delhi had foreshadowed its decision to test two years earlier by withdrawing from the negotiating endgame for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), a goal that was ardently championed from 1954 onward by Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister, and his successors.

New Delhi's stated reason for its reversal was the failure by states possessing nuclear weapons to accept a time-bound framework for nuclear disarmament along with the CTBT. New Delhi also took issue with a complex entry-into-force (EIF) provision that would make the treaty contingent on India's deposit of its instrument of ratification, along with no less than 43 other states that then possessed nuclear power or research reactors.[1] This provision, which was widely perceived at home as an affront to India's strategic autonomy, bore the fingerprints of China, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom, which wished to prolong taking the treaty's bitter medicine as long as possible by forcing others to take it as well.

The real reasons behind the Indian government's sudden reversal on the CTBT were not the EIF clause, despite its aggravating features, nor the absence of a time-bound framework for nuclear disarmament, an agenda item that was not part of the negotiations. What truly rankled New Delhi was that the walls of the global nonproliferation system appeared to be closing in from all sides. The nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) had been indefinitely extended in 1995, with the promise of a CTBT to follow-a promise that the P-5 could condition but from which they could not back away. India's nuclear enclave believed that negotiations on a treaty ending the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons would be next in line. Global export controls also seemed to be closing in on India's nuclear options, while the screw-tighteners seemed to put blinders on when China helped Pakistan.

No nuclear agreement has more onerous EIF provisions than the CTBT, which attests to the reluctance of the P-5 to accept what President Bill Clinton called "the longest-sought, hardest-fought prize in arms control history." By comparison, the Chemical Weapons Convention required the deposit of 65 instruments of ratification, and the NPT simply required the deposit of instruments of ratification by the United Kingdom, United States, and USSR, along with 40 other countries. Securing comparable EIF procedures for the CTBT and avoiding the treaty's extended limbo would have required Clinton's strenuous, early, and sustained efforts. Instead, Clinton put off consideration of EIF provisions until the very end of negotiations, when he succeeded in convincing British Prime Minister John Major to be more flexible. Then, instead of making other phone calls, Clinton quickly threw in the towel.[2] The hour was late, and the time had come, in the view of the president and his advisers, to orchestrate a treaty signing ceremony at the United Nations.

The P-5 signed the CTBT on September 24, 1996, thereby incurring the obligation under international law not to undercut the treaty's objectives and purposes pending its entry into force or until renunciation of their treaty commitments. Two of the five, China and the United States, have yet to deposit their instruments of ratification. The Senate refused to consent to ratification in 1999-a sad tale recounted below-and China's legislature continues to consider this matter at a snail-like pace.

Even if Washington and Beijing were to join the 144 other capitals that have ratified the CTBT, other prominent holdouts may not follow suit. Despite the international community's best efforts, India and Pakistan refused to sign the treaty after testing nuclear devices. This reluctance either reflects lingering domestic constraints against doing so, the intention to test again after a suitable interval, or both. Other holdouts, which include Egypt, Iran, and Israel, as well as North Korea, which broke a global moratorium on nuclear testing that had lasted for eight and a half years after the Indian and Pakistani tests, may be expected to seek inducements and conditions that the EIF procedures invite. Rarely in the history of nuclear negotiations has a provision ostensibly designed to rope in stragglers given them so much bargaining leverage or mischief-making potential.

The CTBT and the Indian and Pakistani Tests

Many Indian supporters of the CTBT argued that it would help reduce the shadow cast by nuclear weapons over international politics, thereby advancing India's long-standing goal of nuclear abolition. This and other arguments fell on deaf ears. India's test of a nuclear device in 1974 was more of a physics experiment than a workable bomb design, and India's nuclear enclave was chafing at the bit. If ever there was a juncture to break free of New Delhi's decades-long ambivalence regarding nuclear weapons, it was, paradoxically, at a time of progress to prevent proliferation and to end nuclear testing permanently. The timing of India's decision to test depended on the election of a coalition government led by a party with enough nerve to break out of this box. That government took office in March 1998, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) two most senior politicians, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani. When India finally decided to test, it was almost a foregone conclusion that Pakistan would follow suit.

Predictably, instead of tying New Delhi's hands, the EIF clause became a source of indignation across the domestic political spectrum, a powerful consensus-builder to reject any constraints on India's nuclear options sought by outside powers. As anticipated, the Pakistani government welcomed the disapprobation placed on India for withdrawing support for the CTBT and waited in the shadows for New Delhi's eventual decision to accept even more heat by testing nuclear devices. When New Delhi obliged on May 11 and 13, no inducements or penalties the United States and other capitals could identify were powerful enough to prevent Pakistan from following suit. Just to make sure that Pakistan would reject U.S. offers and to prevent India from being singled out for international pressure, Advani issued a thinly veiled public threat to the effect that now that New Delhi possessed the bomb, its neighbor should watch its step in Kashmir.[3] Pakistan tested its nuclear devices on May 28. The exact number of tests conducted on the subcontinent in May 1998 remains in doubt because several devices were tested simultaneously and because Pakistan may have inflated its number of tests for political reasons.

After the Tests

Immediately after New Delhi inaugurated this round of testing, the Clinton administration made an intense effort to threaten international isolation unless the governments of India and Pakistan signed the CTBT and took other steps to reduce nuclear dangers. The point man for the Clinton administration was Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. His opposite number was Jaswant Singh, a confidant of Vajpayee who was later appointed external affairs minister in December 1998. Talbott quickly came to the conclusion that little would result from his dialogue with Pakistan unless he could first gain traction in India.

Drawing from a P-5 joint communiqué issued in June 1998, Talbott and his negotiating team initially laid down five conditions for India and Pakistan to meet in order to be freed of sanctions and to break their diplomatic isolation. The topmost condition was signing the CTBT. Next was cooperation in negotiating a permanent ban on the production of fissile material and, pending this negotiation, a freeze on further production of bomb-making material. Third, the United States wanted both countries to accept a "strategic restraint regime" that would limit ballistic missile inventories to versions that had already been tested. Other parts of the strategic restraint regime included pledges by India and Pakistan not to deploy missiles close to each other's borders and also not to maintain warheads atop missiles or stored nearby. Fourth, the United States demanded that both countries adopt "world class" export controls. The fifth condition called on India and Pakistan to "resume dialogue to address the root causes of tension between them, including Kashmir."[4]

Beijing's imprint on the P-5's conditions was difficult to miss, as the proposed strategic restraint regime and a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) would not just curtail New Delhi's options against Pakistan, but would also significantly constrain India from countering China's strategic modernization programs. The reference to Kashmir as the "root cause of tensions" on the subcontinent, without mentioning Pakistan's support for crossings of the Kashmir divide by Islamic extremists to initiate acts of violence, was akin to waving a red flag in front of a very disgruntled Brahma bull. Nonetheless, India swallowed its resentments over the P-5's agenda. New Delhi's top priority after May 1998 was to chip away at its diplomatic isolation, and the best interlocutor to accomplish this objective was the United States.

The talks began in June 1998. Singh asserts in his memoirs that, at the outset, he told Talbott, "I was not there to negotiate, either to give or to ask for anything. I was really there much more to engage in a dialogue.... [W]e could endeavor to harmonize our views so that the first requirement-a restoration of confidence-is achieved, even if only in part."[5] This was a deft gambit, one that Talbott could hardly refuse. U.S.-Indian bilateral relations were in desperate need of repair, and the upside potential of a serious dialogue could yield important dividends downstream. Neither could Talbott wave away the Clinton administration's stipulations for concrete measures to reduce nuclear dangers, specially the need for India to sign the CTBT.

The extended dialogue between Talbott and Singh might be likened to the diplomatic equivalent of a handicap match in professional wrestling, with the world's sole superpower shouldering the handicap. The most crucial factor in the Talbott-Singh strategic dialogue was the passage of time because the Clinton administration had less than three years to accomplish any of its objectives. As Talbott wrote, "India's strategy was to play for the day when the United States would get over its huffing and puffing, and with a sign of exhaustion or a shrug of resignation, accept a nuclear-armed India as a fully responsible and fully entitled member of the international community."[6] For a nation such as India, which waited 24 years between tests of nuclear devices, three years was not a very long time to outwait Washington.

The primary reason why New Delhi backed away from previous internal deliberations to test was the threat of economic sanctions imposed by foreign governments on an overly centralized, underperforming national economy. According to a well-sourced Indian account, an internal assessment done prior to the 1998 tests estimated that if sanctions lasted more than six months, the Indian economy could be seriously stressed.[7] Members of the U.S. Congress from farming states began chipping away at the sanctions well before then, in search of export earnings. Commercial interests in Paris and Moscow also began to erode the P-5's united front, as might be expected. One by one, the concrete measures demanded of India by the Clinton administration slipped off the negotiating table.

What remained was the CTBT. Vajpayee announced a moratorium on testing in May 1998, even before Talbott and Singh met, but this was hardly the legal or political equivalent of signing the CTBT. The U.S. negotiating team repeatedly asked a simple question: If New Delhi had no plans or intentions to test again, why not sign the CTBT? Talbott, a meticulous chronicler of nuclear negotiations, never got a straightforward answer. He recalls Singh stating in June 1998 that, "in exchange for the lifting of American sanctions, India might take the next step, ‘de jure formalization of our position and acceptance of the letter of the treaty.'"[8] In August 1998, Singh showed Talbott a letter from Vajpayee to Clinton promising "to engage constructively with a view to arriving at a decision regarding adherence to the CTBT by the month of September 1999."[9] During this visit to Washington, Talbott reports that, in his presence, Singh told national security adviser Sandy Berger that "Vajpayee had made an ‘irreversible' decision to sign the CTBT-it was just a question of how and when to make that decision public."[10] In January 1999, Talbott reports that Singh told him that "India would sign the CTBT by the end of May."[11] None of these statements were vocalized publicly by Indian officials.

Singh's memoir offers no promises in this regard. He writes, "India had a certain position on the CTBT, and we were going to move purposefully in that direction-but at our own pace. The Prime Minister had already stated that we were not going to conduct more tests. This was a self-imposed restraint amounting to a moratorium." Singh stresses in his account and in his meetings with U.S. officials that the CTBT had been "demonized" in India and that it was widely viewed as "an unequal, dangerous, and coercive treaty."[12] In perhaps the most revealing passage about his interactions with Talbott, Singh notes in characteristically stilted fashion that "[i]f, occasionally during the dialogue and in discussing the issue of adhering to the CTBT, recourse was taken to deflective ambiguity, that can hardly be characterized as adherence."[13]

The longer the U.S.-Indian strategic dialogue proceeded, the less Singh needed to resort to deflective ambiguity. The Clinton administration necessarily needed to turn its attention elsewhere, especially to al Qaeda, which had begun to carry out long-distance acts of violence from its base in Afghanistan. The flurry of nuclear tests also set in motion dangerous friction between India and Pakistan that raised nuclear dangers and the risk of uncontrolled escalation. Within eight months after testing nuclear devices, General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's chief of army staff, in effect called Advani's bluff over Kashmir by beginning to infiltrate military units across the Kashmir divide in mountainous terrain overlooking the town of Kargil. Infiltration levels and acts of violence carried out by Pakistani-supported jihadi groups on Indian soil were also becoming more brazen. The stability/instability paradox-a construct devised by Western deterrence theorists who postulated that nuclear weapons could check full-scale wars but encourage mischief-making below the nuclear threshold-seemed to be playing out on the subcontinent under a risk-taking Pakistani army chief.[14]

Beginning in May 1999, when the Pakistani units were discovered by Indian reconnaissance teams in the heights overlooking Kargil, the CTBT took a distant back seat to the need to secure a Pakistani withdrawal and to prevent the high-altitude war from expanding in scope and intensity. Several unanticipated consequences and deep ironies resulted from U.S. crisis management in the Kargil war. Clinton, who was withholding a trip to the subcontinent as leverage for CTBT signatures, promised one to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as a face saver for withdrawal. His subsequent trip to the region clarified how much progress was possible in improving Indo-U.S. relations and how badly strained bilateral ties with Pakistan had become, primarily due to its ties to al Qaeda and other Islamic extremist groups.

The prospects of gaining Indian and Pakistani signatures on the CTBT were hanging by a slender thread when the Republican-led Senate suddenly consented to long-standing demands by their Democratic colleagues to vote on the treaty. The Clinton White House and Senate Democratic leadership were completely unprepared for this eventuality and ignorant of the prior efforts by Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) to line up sufficient Republican votes to kill the treaty. Relations between Republicans and the Clinton White House were venomous, as reflected in the 16-month-long impeachment proceedings during 1998-1999 regarding Clinton's sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. Lines of communication were also severed between Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill. When Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) stood up in the Senate in September 1999 expressing his intention to block all further proceedings unless the CTBT were brought up for a vote, he was about to learn that Kyl had the votes to defeat ratification.[15]

Senate Democrats found it awkward to pivot away from the CTBT after demanding a vote. As in Geneva, the Senate's negotiating endgame left the Clinton White House holding a very poor hand. Clinton had neither the time nor the leverage to influence the outcome. Sixty-two Senators, led by John Warner (R-Va.) and Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.), tried to avoid a complete train wreck over the CTBT by signing a letter requesting postponement of the vote. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) agreed to withdraw the treaty if Clinton would request a withdrawal in writing and if he would pledge not to bring up the CTBT for the duration of his presidency. Under the prevailing circumstances, these conditions bowed to political realities, but the second condition was somehow deemed unacceptable by the Clinton White House. As Berger explained, "The president believes that it is inappropriate for him to say to the world that the United States is out of the nonproliferation business during an election year."[16] On October 13, 1999, the Senate failed to give the CTBT a simple majority, let alone the necessary two-thirds vote required for passage. The vote was 48 in support, 51 opposed.

September 11 and U.S. Relations With India and Pakistan

The Bush administration's agenda for the subcontinent shifted dramatically after the terrorist attacks of September 11, as it sought to forge a strategic partnership with Islamabad to fight the "war on terror" and to create a new partnership with India with the unstated purpose of helping to provide a counterweight to China. On September 22, 2001, the Bush administration lifted all remaining economic sanctions on India and Pakistan, except for sanctions on entities that had engaged in proliferation-related commerce. India's economic potential, trade, and growth have inoculated the country from new threats of sanctions. Besides, the Bush administration made it a strategic priority to befriend India, including the promotion of a wide-ranging civil nuclear cooperation agreement with New Delhi, overriding decades of export control arrangements established by the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The Bush administration asked for very little in return, least of all India's signature on the CTBT. Ironically, this proposed deal, which was the Bush administration's most important regional priority as Pakistani governance faltered, remains in limbo. Like the CTBT, the deal has been stymied by polarized domestic politics in India.

Ten years after testing nuclear devices, India and Pakistan still have not accepted any constraints on their strategic autonomy. Along with China, both states are engaged in strategic modernization programs of considerable breadth, building nuclear-tipped cruise missiles as well as ballistic missiles to be carried by their land, sea, and air forces.[17] India has plans for a deterrent it deems worthy of a major power, which might entail further tests to certify thermonuclear weapon designs. If India tests again, Pakistan is likely to do so as well. The nuclear enclaves in each county are highly respected at home and believe they have more work to do. This spells trouble not only for the CTBT's entry into force, but also for initiating and successfully concluding fissile material cutoff negotiations in Geneva.

Looking back, the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan and the subsequent rejection by the Senate of the CTBT were significant setbacks for global nonproliferation efforts. Nonetheless, the sky has not fallen. In the following decade, only one additional device has been tested, the lowest number in any 10-year period since the bomb's unveiling. This test, by North Korea, was widely condemned and helped to spur diplomatic efforts to dismantle Pyongyang's nuclear infrastructure. Although other nuclear-weapon enclaves would welcome the opportunity to test again, several are weaker than they have ever been, and political leaders are hesitant to be the first to break an informal global moratorium or to follow the lead of an outlier state. This calculus of restraint can change quickly, especially if China, Russia, or the United States is the first to resume testing.

Looking forward, U.S. CTBT ratification depends, in the first instance, on the identity of the next president. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) voted against the CTBT in 1999; Senators Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) support the treaty. Yet, even if the next president thinks positively of the CTBT, he or she will have many pressing matters to address. The priority attached to the CTBT will depend in part on the projected vote count in the Senate. Perhaps a dozen Republican senators will need to join Democrats in consenting to ratification, including some, such as Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), who voted nay in 1999. Kyl may well hold an even more important Republican leadership position after the next U.S. election, and his opposition appears unyielding. If the new administration is favorably disposed toward the CTBT and if its vote count falls short, moving forward might well require trade-offs involving support for some variant of the Reliable Replacement Warhead program that may be very controversial and unacceptable to long-standing treaty supporters who oppose new warhead assembly lines.

Another option for the next U.S. administration would be to pursue modest but useful steps that are already in train, thanks to the steady and wise leadership of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization's (CTBTO) current executive secretary, Tibor Tóth of Hungary, and his predecessor, Wolfgang Hoffmann of Germany. The treaty's international monitoring system is being expanded, and valuable training exercises are being carried out. The next administration may also see the wisdom of paying U.S. dues to the CTBTO in full. The treaty's international monitoring network's ability to identify the sub-kiloton North Korean nuclear test marks a major success story. Adapting and adding to this network to provide for an improved tsunami early-warning system could add to the success of the CTBTO.

We are a long way from closure regarding the CTBT. India, like the United States, believes deeply that it is an exceptional country and exceptional countries prefer to lead rather than to join. The harsh treatment meted out to the civil nuclear cooperation agreement by opposition leaders in the BJP-an agreement they would surely have welcomed had they been in power during the Bush administration-does not bode well for forging a national consensus in India on the CTBT. The EIF provision continues to serve its intended, malign purpose, which in turn makes it essential to continue an informal global moratorium on testing.

Ten years after the May 1998 tests, India and Pakistan remain outliers to treaties that help define responsible stewardship of nuclear arsenals. Pakistan shows every inclination to compete with India, as is suggested by its growing bomb-making infrastructure and its willingness to block the initiation of negotiations on an FMCT in Geneva. Islamabad's response to treaty commitments remains fixed: Pakistan will consider whatever India agrees to first. Meanwhile, New Delhi's timelines for considering the CTBT and the cutoff treaty seem quite elastic.

The positive news about nuclear stabilization measures on the subcontinent lies outside the domain of treaties. India and Pakistan have agreed to several confidence-building and nuclear risk-reduction measures, such as notifications regarding certain missile flight tests and military exercises. After a period of domestic turbulence in Pakistan, these discussions will resume, perhaps yielding more agreements that reduce the possibility of unintended escalation. Each country is focused on trade, economic development, and domestic cohesion. In turn, this requires that the divided territory of Kashmir, which Pakistani officials used to describe as a "nuclear flashpoint," remain on the back burner. These important gains are unlikely to be supplemented by constructive initiatives relating to nuclear negotiations.

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Michael Krepon is the co-founder of the Henry L. Stimson Center and a diplomat scholar at the University of Virginia. His next book, Better Safe than Sorry: The Ironies of Living with the Bomb, will be published by Stanford University Press.


1. See Arundhati Ghose, Statement to the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva, June 20, 1996.

2. Senior Clinton administration officials, interviews with author, Washington, D.C., 1996.

3. "Islamabad should realise the change in the geo-strategic situation in the region and the world. It must roll back its anti-India policy especially with regard to Kashmir. Any other course will be futile and costly for Pakistan." Sabina Inderjit, "Advani Tells Pakistan to Roll Back Its Anti-India Policy," Times of India, May 19, 1998 (quoting Advani).

4. See Strobe Talbott, Engaging India: Diplomacy, Democracy, and the Bomb (Washington: Brookings Institution Press, 2004), pp. 96-97. Talbott's account is essential for specialists and accessible to nonexperts, making it an excellent teaching tool for the complexities of proliferation and U.S.-Indian relations.

5. Jaswant Singh, In Service of Emergent India: A Call to Honor (Calcutta: Rupa & Co., 2006; Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007), p. 253.

6. Talbott, Engaging India, p. 5.

7. Raj Chengappa, Weapons of Peace, The Secret Story of India's Quest to be a Nuclear Power (New Delhi: HarperCollins, 2000), pp. 48-49.

8. Talbott, Engaging India, p. 86.

9. Ibid., p. 121.

10. Ibid., p. 123.

11. Ibid., p. 145.

12. Singh, In Service of Emergent India, p. 263.

13. Ibid., p. 274.

14. For more on the stability/instability paradox as it applies to South Asia, see Michael Krepon, "The Stability-Instability Paradox, Misperception, and Escalation Control in South Asia," in Prospects for Peace in South Asia, ed. Rafiq Dossani and Henry S. Rowen (Stanford University Press, 2005); Michael Krepon, Rodney W. Jones, and Ziad Haider, eds., Escalation Control and the Nuclear Option in South Asia (Washington, D.C.: Henry L. Stimson Center, 2004). For another perspective, see S. Paul Kapur, "India and Pakistan's Unstable Peace: Why Nuclear South Asia Is Not Like Cold War Europe," International Security, No. 30 (Fall 2005), pp. 127-152.

15. For a superb case study, see Terry L. Deibel, "Inside the Water's Edge: The Senate Votes on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty," Institute for the Study of Diplomacy Case Studies, No. 263 (2003).

16. Ibid., p. 147.

17. See Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, "India's Nuclear Forces, 2007," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, No. 63 (July/August 2007), pp. 74-78; Robert S. Norris, "Pakistan's Nuclear Forces, 2007," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, No. 63 (May/June 2007), pp. 71-74.


Ten years ago, the governments of India and Pakistan tested nuclear devices, prompting a global uproar, a united front by the five permanent members (P-5) of the UN Security Council, and stiff sanctions directed at New Delhi and Islamabad. Although the timing of the tests came as a surprise to the U.S. intelligence community, New Delhi had foreshadowed its decision to test two years earlier by withdrawing from the negotiating endgame for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), a goal that was ardently championed from 1954 onward by Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister, and his successors. (Continue)

NGO Statement at 2008 NPT PrepCom


The following statement was delivered by John Loretz of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War on 29 April 2008. It is based on an international letter sent on 7 January 2008 to governments on the NSG and the IAEA Board of Governors.

Proposal for Nuclear Cooperation with India: A Nonproliferation Disaster

Convenors: Daryl Kimball, Arms Control Association; Philip White, Abolition 2000 US-India Deal Working Group
Speaker: John Loretz, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

Ladies and Gentleman:

As we mark the 40th anniversary of the opening for signature of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), global system for controlling and eliminating nuclear weapons is under severe stress. This presentation addresses a fundamental challenge to the treaty: the July 2005 proposal to carve-out a country-specific loophole in global nonproliferation norms and standards to allow a handful of nuclear supplier states to engage in nuclear cooperation with India, which is one of the few remaining NPT hold-out states.

We believe that each NPT state party has a role and responsibility to actively help ensure that any proposed nuclear cooperation with India, or with any other country outside the NPT, should be fully consistent with the treaty and all NPT Review Conference decisions, as well as United Nations Security Council resolution, the established practices of the IAEA safeguards system, and international nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation agreements, principles, and norms.

This presentation represents the views of more than 130 experts and nongovernmental organizations from 23 countries, including the President of the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference. It is based on a letter dated 7 January 2008 that was sent by these organizations and individuals to over 60 governments.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors may soon be asked to consider a new "India-specific" safeguards agreement that would cover a limited number of additional "civilianÅh reactors. Shortly thereafter, the members of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) will be asked to take a position on the Bush administration's proposal to exempt India from longstanding NSG guidelines that require full-scope IAEA safeguards as a condition of supply. This would open the door for the United States and others to engage in nuclear trade with India for the first time since India detonated a nuclear device in 1974 that used plutonium harvested from a heavy water reactor supplied by Canada and the United States in violation of bilateral peaceful nuclear use agreements.

Contrary to the claims of its advocates, the proposed arrangement fails to bring India further into conformity with the nonproliferation behavior expected of other states. India's commitments under the current terms of the proposed arrangement do not justify making far-reaching exceptions to international nonproliferation rules and norms. Consequently, the proposed arrangement would damage the already fragile nuclear nonproliferation system and set back efforts to achieve universal nuclear disarmament.

We urge your government and this meeting of NPT states parties has a responsibility to consider the full implications of the proposed agreement and to play an active role to help ensure that this controversial proposal does not:

  • further undermine the nuclear safeguards system and efforts to prevent the proliferation of technologies that may be used to produce nuclear bomb material;
  • in any way contribute to nuclear proliferation and/or the expansion of India's nuclear arsenal; or
  • otherwise grant India the benefits of civil nuclear trade without holding it to the same standards expected of other states parties of the NPT.

Please consider the following:

1) India is seeking "India-specific" safeguards over the additional facilities it has declared "civilian". Indian officials insist that the continuation of these safeguards depends upon the continued supply of nuclear fuel from foreign suppliers. India may also assert that it has the option to remove certain "indigenous" reactors from safeguards if foreign fuel supplies are interrupted, even if that is because it has resumed nuclear testing. Such interpretations would be unprecedented and should be rejected whether they might be included in the actual safeguards agreement or accompanying statements.

As part of the final document of the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, all NPT states parties endorsed the principle of full-scope safeguards as a condition of supply. A decision by a subset of the NPT states parties - the 45-nation NSG - to exempt India from this requirement for India would contradict this important element of the NPT bargain.

It should also be noted that the several countries that are parties to the Treaty of Pelindaba and the Treaty of Rarotonga have made further commitments not to provide any source or special fissionable material to any NPT non-nuclear-weapon state unless the recipient state is under comprehensive IAEA safeguards.

We urge your government to actively oppose any arrangement that would give India any special safeguards exemptions or would in any way be inconsistent with the principle of permanent safeguards over all nuclear materials and facilities.

2) India pledged in July 2005 to conclude an Additional Protocol to its safeguards agreement. Given that India maintains a nuclear weapons program outside of safeguards, facility-specific safeguards on a few additional "civilian" reactors provide no serious nonproliferation benefits. States should insist that India conclude a meaningful Additional Protocol safeguards regime before the NSG takes a decision on exempting India from its rules.

3) The United States has put forward a draft NSG guideline that would allow NSG states to continue providing India with nuclear supplies even if New Delhi breaks its nuclear test moratorium pledge. Indian officials say they want changes to NSG guidelines that do not impinge upon their ability to resume nuclear testing. The U.S. proposal on India at the NSG would, in the case of a resumption of nuclear testing by India, make the suspension of nuclear trade optional for NSG members. Such an approach would undercut the international norm against nuclear testing and make a mockery of NSG guidelines. Nuclear supplier states should be immediately terminated if India resumes nuclear testing for any reason.

4) India is seeking exemptions from NSG guidelines and IAEA supply guarantees that would allow supplier states to provide India with a strategic fuel reserve that could be used to outlast any fuel supply cut off or sanctions that may be imposed if it resumes nuclear testing. The U.S.-India bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement includes political commitments to support an Indian strategic fuel reserve and an "India-specific" fuel supply arrangement. If nuclear supplier states should agree to supply fuel to India, they should do so in a manner that is commensurate with ordinary reactor operating requirements.

5) India is seeking and the United States has proposed an NSG guideline that would open the way for other nuclear suppliers to transfer sensitive plutonium reprocessing, uranium enrichment, or heavy water production technology to India even though IAEA safeguards cannot prevent such technology from being replicated and used in its weapons program. U.S. officials have stated that they do not intend to sell such technology, but other states may. Foreign-assisted enrichment and reprocessing, even if ostensibly confined to the civilian program, could help India in its military programs because Indian technicians could adapt civilian assistance to the weapons program through reverse engineering. So long as India maintains an unsafeguarded weapons program, no such technologies should be transferred to India.

6) Absent a decision by New Delhi to halt the production of fissile material for weapons purposes, foreign fuel supplies would allow India not only to continue but also to potentially accelerate the buildup of its stockpile of nuclear weapons materials. This would not only contradict the goal of Article I of the NPT, but it would also foster further nuclear competition between India and Pakistan. India's stated support for a global, verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty is welcome, but insufficient, especially given the decade-long gridlock in Geneva that has held up negotiations on the cut-off.

7) UN Security Council Resolution 1172 calls on India and Pakistan to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and stop producing fissile material for weapons, among other nuclear risk reduction measures. Your government is bound by the UN Charter to support the implementation of this resolution and states at this meeting should reiterate their commitment to the prompt realization of its goals.

The initiative for nuclear cooperation with India threatens to undermine the nuclear nonproliferation regime by granting India the benefits of nuclear commerce only accorded to NPT states parties, while securing no meaningful constraint on the growth of its nuclear weapons stockpile or commitment by India to accept the legal equivalent of the obligations set forth in Articles I and VI of the NPT.

We call on all NPT states parties to judge the proposal for nuclear cooperation according to the commitments they have made under the treaty and in the context of NPT Review Conferences, and according to the obligations imposed by UN Security Council resolutions passed in the aftermath of the May 1998 Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests. Rather than create exceptions to the rules of behavior expected of responsible states, NPT states parties should reaffirm the need for universal adherence to the treaty and for nuclear disarmament.

Thank you.


Individual Endorsements (organizations listed for identification purposes only)

Tadatoshi Akiba
Mayor of Hiroshima (Japan)

Amb. Richard Broinowski (Australia)
Adjunct Professor, School of Letters, Art and Media
University of Sydney
Former Ambassador to Vietnam, Republic of Korea, Mexico, the Central American Republics and Cuba

Jayantha Dhanapala (Sri Lanka)
Former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs
President of the 1995 NPT Review & Extension Conference (Recipient of the 2007 Intl. Peace Bureau MacBride Prize)

Amb. Robert Grey Jr., (Washington D.C., USA)
Director, Bipartisan Security Group and Former U.S. Representative to the Conference on Disarmament

Fred McGoldrick (Boston, Mass., USA)
Consultant and Former Director of Nonproliferation and Export Policy U.S. Department of State

Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C., Canadian Senator Emeritus and Former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament

Roland Timerbaev (Moscow, Russia)
Ambassador (Ret.), Executive Board Chair
Center for Policy Studies

Leonard Weiss (USA)
Former Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and chief architect of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Act of 1978

Praful Bidwai (India)
Senior journalist and author
Fellow of the Transnational Institute and co-winner of the IPB MacBride Prize

Dr. Helen Caldicott (Australia)
Co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility
Founder of Womens Action for Nuclear Disarmament
Founder Nuclear Policy Research Institute

Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy (New Delhi, India)
Professor of International Studies
Jawaharlal Nehru University

Noam Chomsky (Cambridge, Mass. USA)
Emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Joseph Cirincione (Washington, D.C., USA)
Senior Fellow and Director for Nuclear Policy
Center for American Progress

Gwynne Dyer (Canada)
Freelance journalist, columnist, broadcaster, and lecturer on international affairs

Trevor Findlay (Ottawa, Canada)
Director, Canadian Centre for Treaty Compliance
Associate Professor
Norman Paterson School of International Affairs

Frank von Hippel (Princeton, NJ, USA)
Professor of Public and International Affairs
Program on Science and Global Security
Princeton University

Wade L. Huntley, Ph.D. (Vancouver, Canada)
Director, Simons Centre for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Research
Liu Institute for Global Issues
University of British Columbia

Michiji Konuma
Member of The Committee of Seven for World Peace and Emeritus Professor of Keio University and Musashi Institute of Technology

Zia Mian (Princeton, NJ, USA)
Research Scientist, Program on Science and Global Security Princeton University

Dr. William C. Potter (Monterey, Calif., USA)
Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar Professor of Nonproliferation Studies
Monterey Institute of International Studies

M.V. Ramana (Bangalore, India)
Senior Fellow, Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Environment and Development

Ernie Regehr, O.C. (Canada)
Co-Founder Project Ploughshares
Adjunct Associate Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies, Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo and Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation

Sharon Squassoni (Washington, D.C. USA)
Senior Associate
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Tatsujiro Suzuki (Japan)
Member of Japan Pugwash Group
Co-founder of Peace Pledge, Japan

Tomihisa Taue
Mayor of Nagaski City (Japan)

Hideo Tsuchiyama (Japan)
Member of The Committee of Seven for World Peace
Emeritus Professor and former President of Nagasaki University

Hiromichi Umebayashi (Japan)
President, Peace Depot

Achin Vanaik (India)
Professor of International Relations and Global Politics
Department of Political Science, Delhi University
Fellow of the Transnational Institute (Co-recipient of the 2000 International Peace Bureau MacBride Prize)

Alyn Ware (New Zealand)
Vice-President of International Peace Bureau

International NGOs

Peter Becker
International Secretary
International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms

Regina Hagen
International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation

Tomas Magnusson
International Peace Bureau (Recipient of the 1910 Nobel Prize for Peace)

Susi Snyder
Secretary General
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom

Rene Wadlow
Representative to UN, Geneva
Association of World Citizens

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (Recipient of the 1985 Nobel Prize for Peace)

Associate Professor Tilman Ruff
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) Working Group

National and Local NGOs (listed by region)

South Asia


Dr Mahesh Kumar Arora
Anubhooti Society (Jaipur, Rajasthan, India)

Dr. Prakash Louis
Bihar Social Institute (Patna, Bihar, India)

Harsh Kapoor
South Asians Against Nukes (India)

Prof. E. P. Menon
India Development Foundation (Bangalore India)

ConvenorChampa -The Amiya & B.G.Rao Foundation (New Delhi, India).

Sandeep Pandey
Asha Parivar (India)

Medha Patkar
National Alliance of People's Movements (India)

Sukla Sen
EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity) (Mumbai, India)

S. P. Udayakumar
People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (Tamil Nadu, India)


Ram Narayan Kumar
South Asia Forum for Human Rights (Kathmandu)


Aslam Khwaja
Executive Director
People's Development Foundation (Pakistan)

Sri Lanka

Upali Magedaragamage
Coordinator, Asian Network for Culture and Development (Maharagama, Sri Lanka)

South Asian Diaspora

Mr. Abi Ghimire
Canadian Network for Democratic Nepal (Canada)

Hari Sharma (President) and Board of Directors
South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (Vancouver, Canada)

Coalition for an Egalitarian and Secular/Pluralistic India (Los Angeles, CA, USA)

EKTA Los Angeles (Committee for Communal Amity) (Palos Verdes, CA, USA)

South Asia Forum (Huntington Beach, CA, USA)

East Asia


Shingo Fukuyama
Secretary General
Japan Congress Against A- and H-Bombs (Gensuikin)

Akira Kawasaki
Executive Committee
Peace Boat (Japan)

Ken’ichi Okubo
Executive Director
Japan Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms

Daisuke Sato
NoNukes Asia Forum Japan

Yoshiko Shidara
Women's Democratic Club

Aileen Mioko Smith
Green Action (Kyoto, Japan)

Hiroshi Taka
Secretary General
Japan Council against A- and H-Bombs (Gensuikyo)

Terumi Tanaka
Secretary General
Nihon Hidankyo (Japan Confederation of A- and H-bomb Sufferers) (Japan)
(Hidankyo was the recipient of the 2003 International Peace Bureau MacBride Prize)

Hiroshima Alliance for Nuclear Weapons Abolition

South Korea

Park Jin-Sup
Vice Director
Eco-Horizon Institute (Seoul, South Korea)

Park Jung-eun
Chief Coordinator, Center for Peace and Disarmament
People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (South Korea)

Wooksik Cheong
Peace Network (Seoul, South Korea)



Heinz Stockinger
PLAGE (Salzburg Platform Against Nuclear Dangers) (Austria)


David Heller
Friends of the Earth, Flanders & Brussels (Belgium)

Hans Lammerant
Bombspotting – Vredesactie (Belgium)


Laura Lodenius
Peace Union of Finland


Jean-Marie Matagne
Action des Citoyens pour le Désarmement Nucléaire
Action of Citizens for the total Dismantling of Nukes (France)

Pierre Villard
Mouvement de la Paix (France)
Coordinateur de la Campagne pour le Désarmement Nucléaire


Rainer Braun
Executive Director
International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, German section

Wolfgang Nees
NaturwissenschaftlerInnen-Initiative "Verantwortung für Frieden und Zukunftsfähigkeit" (Germany)

Ingrid Schittich
Association of World Citizens, German branch

Bundesverband der Deutschen Friedensgesellschaft - Vereinigte KriegsdienstgegnerInnen (Germany)

Komitee für Grundrechte und Demokratie (Germany)

International Fellowship of Reconciliation, German Branch

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, German section


Mary McCarrick and Emily Doherty
Executive Committee Members
Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Joe Murray
Director, Action from Ireland (AFRi)

Roger Cole
Peace and Neutrality Alliance (Ireland)


Albino Bizzotto,
Beati i costruttori di pace (Blessed Are the Peacemakers) (Italy)

Lisa Clark,
Nuclear Weapons Working Group
Rete Italiana per il Disarmo (Italian Disarmament Network)

Nicola Cufaro Petroni
Secretary General
Union of Scientists for Disarmament (USPID) (Italy)


Ak Malten
Global Anti-Nuclear Alliance (The Netherlands)


Stine Rødmyr
Leader of No to Nuclear Weapons (Norway)


Anna Lisa Eneroth (President) and
Alexandra Sundberg (Secretary General)
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Swedish section

Anna Ek
Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society

Frida Sundberg (President SLMK) and
Gunnar Westberg (Co-President IPPNW, member of SLMK Board)
Swedish Physicians Against Nuclear Weapons (SLMK)

United Kingdom

Kate Hudson
Chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK)

Dr. Rebecca Johnson
Executive Director
Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy (UK)

Jenny Maxwell
West Midlands Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Dave Webb
Yorkshire Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Middle East and Africa


Nouri Abdul Razzak Hussain
Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization (Cairo)



John Hallam
People for Nuclear Disarmament Nuclear Flashpoints Campaign (Sydney, Australia)

Don Jarrett
President, Australian Peace Committee (Australia)

Pauline Mitchell
Campaign for International Cooperation and Disarmament Melbourne (Australia)

David Noonan and Dave Sweeney
Nuclear Free Campaigners
Australian Conservation Foundation (Australia)

Cam Walker
National Liaison Officer, Friends of the Earth Australia

Dr Sue Wareham OAM
Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia)

New Zealand

Dr Kate Dewes (Coordinator) and
Commander Robert D Green (Royal Navy (Ret'd))
Disarmament & Security Centre (Christchurch, New Zealand)

Barney Richards
National Secretary
Peace Council Aotearoa New Zealand

North America


Sr. Mary-Ellen Francoeur
World Conference of Religions for Peace (Canada)

Paul Hamel (President) and Phyllis Creighton (Secretary)
Science for Peace (Toronto Canada)

Laura Savinkoff
Boundary Peace Initiative (Canada)

Dr. Jennifer Simons
Simons Foundation (Canada)

Steven Staples
Rideau Institute on International Affairs (Canada)
Global Secretariat to Abolition 2000

Jessica West
Program Associate
Project Ploughshares (Waterloo, ON, Canada)

Physicians for Global Survival (Canada)

StopWar.ca (Canada)

United States of America

Rochelle Becker
Executive Director
Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility (San Luis Obispo, Ca, USA)

John Burroughs
Executive Director, Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy (New York, USA)

Glenn Carroll
Coordinator, Nuclear Watch South (Atlanta, USA)

David Culp
Legislative Representative
Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers) (Washington, D.C. USA)

Mary Davis
Director of Yggdrasil, a project of Earth Island Institute (Lexington, KY, USA)

Keith Gunter
Citizens' Resistance at Fermi Two (Monroe, MI, USA)

David Hartsough
Executive Director
Peaceworkers (San Francisco, CA, USA)

Alice Hirt
Don't Waste Michigan (Holland, MI, USA)

Michael J. Keegan
Coalition for a Nuclear Free Great Lakes (Monroe, MI, USA)

Daryl G. Kimball,
Executive Director,
Arms Control Association (Washington, DC, USA)

David Krieger
President, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (New York, USA)

Terri Lodge
Arms Control Advocacy Collaborative (USA)

Michael McCally, M.D., Ph.D.
Executive Director
Physicians for Social Responsibility (Washington D.C., USA)

Christopher Paine
Director, Nuclear Program
Natural Resources Defense Council (Washington, D.C., USA)

Jon Rainwater
Executive Director
Peace Action West (Berkeley, California, USA)

Don Richardson, M.D.
Western North Carolina Physicians For Social Responsibility (Asheville, NC, USA)

Susan Shaer
Executive Director
Women's Action for New Directions (Washington, D.C., USA)

Alice Slater (New York, USA)
Convener, Abolition 2000 Sustainable Energy Working Group

Jennifer O. Viereck,
Director, HOME: Healing Ourselves & Mother Earth (Tecopa, CA, USA)

Sisters of St. Francis Center for Active Nonviolence (Clinton, Iowa, USA)



The following statement was delivered by John Loretz of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War on 29 April 2008. It is based on an international letter sent on 7 January 2008 to governments on the NSG and the IAEA Board of Governors. (Continue)

Country Resources:

Reshaping the U.S.-Indian Nuclear Deal to Lessen the Nonproliferation Losses

Charles D. Ferguson

For decades, India’s nuclear programs have been defined by two contradictory forces: the country’s vast ambitions and its limited uranium reserves. Its ambitions have led New Delhi to establish a significant civilian nuclear enterprise, to refuse to sign the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), and to develop and test nuclear weapons. Its limited uranium reserves, on the other hand, have clearly slowed India’s nuclear energy development, most likely hampered its nuclear weapons program, and intertwined the two efforts to a high degree.

The tension between India’s goals and resources has grown much stronger in the past decade. By bringing India’s nuclear weapons programs into the open, the country’s 1998 nuclear tests fueled calls to develop the full panoply of nuclear capabilities, including a nuclear triad. India’s recent impressive economic growth has strained the country’s energy system, increasing interest in nuclear energy. In particular, India would like to quintuple the production of electricity through nuclear energy by 2020.

To the Indian government, the civil nuclear cooperation agreement it signed with the United States last year looks like a way for New Delhi to escape this dilemma, giving it access to global uranium reserves without imposing limits on its nuclear weapons program. India’s right and left wings may claim the Congress-led government has somehow shortchanged their country. The truth is that, without the deal, New Delhi will be forced to confront painful trade-offs between its energy and national security goals, as a series of January interviews I conducted in India of nuclear scientists, policy experts, and energy and defense analysts made clear.

For the deal to go forward, the 45 members of the voluntary Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) must first agree to carve out an exception for India to its guidelines. These currently require a non-nuclear-weapon state, as India is legally defined under the NPT, to have comprehensive safeguards on all nuclear facilities before receiving civilian nuclear assistance from NSG countries.

The U.S. Congress too must sign off on the final nuclear cooperation agreement, meaning that it and the NSG will retain considerable leverage over India. They should use this power to condition the agreement in a way that does less damage to the nuclear nonproliferation regime.

The NSG has an opportunity to condition this exception on India’s behaviors, including continuing to refrain from testing nuclear explosives and placing permanent safeguards on any foreign technologies and fuel, as well as designated indigenous facilities. Moreover, the NSG should hold back on transferring enrichment and reprocessing technologies, which could further enhance India’s weapons production capabilities, and only supply as much reserve fuel as needed for reasonable power plant requirements. U.S. leadership could also influence India to become a more responsible nuclear-armed state through signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and committing to a cutoff of weapons-usable fissile material in addition to adhering to conditions on civilian nuclear commerce.

Two Intertwined Visions

The roots of the current controversy over the nuclear deal go back to India’s emergence as an independent nation in the late 1940s. At that time, Dr. Homi Bhabha, widely viewed as a father of India’s nuclear programs, sought to develop these efforts in a way that exploited indigenous resources. He was well aware that India’s uranium resources were only sufficient to power a modest nuclear energy program of about 10,000 megawatts per year and even less would be available if some were used for weapons. To compensate, Bhabha laid out a three-stage plan for India to hoard these limited indigenous uranium deposits and to leverage its abundant thorium deposits to bootstrap itself to a massive production of electricity through nuclear energy and to produce weapons-grade plutonium.

This vision of self-sufficiency, which arose in part from India’s desire to escape its colonial heritage, has remained a guiding vision for India’s nuclear establishment even as its practical fulfillment has receded further into the future. India’s positions in the discussions on a nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States in many ways reflect a compromise between those who want to be self-reliant and stick almost exclusively with Bhabha’s three-stage plan, which one interviewee called “a sacred cow,” and those who are willing to bring in outside foreign suppliers. India’s preference for autarky was reinforced by its isolation from international nuclear trade after a 1974 nuclear test, which relied on U.S. and Canadian technology and nuclear materials. This is also reflected in India’s current negotiating posture, which seeks to ensure that foreign suppliers cannot shut off access to fuel and reactors if New Delhi tests nuclear explosives or commits some other proliferation transgression, such as transferring nuclear technologies to states of concern.

Moreover, while Bhabha sought to ensure that fissile materials would be available for a nuclear weapons program, India in recent years has fleshed out what it means when it says that it seeks a “credible minimal deterrent.” In its draft nuclear doctrine published soon after the 1998 tests, New Delhi explicitly stated its objective was to deploy a triad of nuclear forces. The triad would consist of land-based ballistic missiles, nuclear-capable aircraft, and nuclear-armed submarines. As with the U.S.-Soviet experience during the Cold War, such a triad is designed to provide India with survivable nuclear forces and a second-strike capability. It would also mean that India’s arsenal would increase from an estimated few dozen operational warheads today to as many as 200 or more, a level akin to China and the United Kingdom. The nuclear deal would not prevent India from building up to these projected operational and reserve capacities within several years.[1]

The Deal and India’s Fissile Material

To produce enough weapons-usable fissile material (highly enriched uranium or plutonium), India needs sufficient uranium. This uranium would have to come from the country’s limited indigenous sources because foreign suppliers would not give permission to have their uranium used to make weapons. Currently, the military has to share these scarce uranium resources with the civilian sector as nearly all of India’s thermal reactors, are fueled with indigenous uranium. All told, the current total annual uranium demand is about 475 tons. The military reactors require about 45 metric tons of uranium annually:  The CIRUS and Dhruva weapons-grade plutonium-production reactors require about 35 metric tons and another military program to make fuel for nuclear-powered submarines, the uranium-enrichment facility at Mysore, uses an estimated 10 metric tons of uranium annually. By contrast,  the civilian thermal reactor fleet currently requires about 430 metric tons of uranium per year to be fully fueled.[2] The uranium demands of the civilian sector have grown since the late 1990s more reactors came online in the late 1990s and the India was able to operate its reactors at a higher pitch.

Indigenous supplies have not kept up with this rising demand. Estimated uranium mining has fallen to around 300 tons per year because of poor planning in the uranium mining and milling sectors and opposition from an emerging environmental movement. Notably, New Delhi has kept its two weapons-grade plutonium-production reactors fully fueled during the last several years while curtailing electricity production.

This energy crunch could not have come at a worse time. Indian electricity demand is soaring to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding economy. According to the Indian government and the International Energy Agency, India’s electricity demand will increase at a rate of 6 to 8 percent annually at least through 2020.

India’s nuclear energy boosters, such as Subhinder Thakur, the head strategist for the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), an enterprise of the government of India, claim “the mismatch is temporary.” Thakur said the Uranium Corporation of India, the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research, and the Nuclear Fuel Complex are working together to resolve the uranium shortage within the next few years.

Despite this optimistic assessment from the NPCIL, India confronts continued resistance from environmentalists about opening new mines or expanding old ones, especially in the northeastern part of the country. Also, India’s plans to increase its thermal reactor power production within the next five to six years would drive up the demand for domestically mined uranium in the near term. In particular, to keep the newest indigenous reactors fully fueled would require about 140 tons of uranium per year. Adding this to the current uranium demands means that if the plants were run at full capacity, India annually would consume an estimated 600 tons of uranium.

Therefore, if the political conflicts surrounding mining were not resolved by the time these plants were built and if the nuclear deal were to fall through, India would be forced to stop running about half of its indigenously fueled reactors or only operate this fleet at approximately 50 percent capacity. With the deal, India has plans to place enough reactors under safeguards to reduce the demand for domestically mined uranium to just more than 300 tons for the unsafeguarded power production reactors by 2014—the amount that it is mining today. Assuming that India could import the uranium for the safeguarded reactors, the deal could reduce pressure on India to open up new or expand existing uranium mines. From the perspectives of the NSG and the United States, this significant difference between the deal and no deal scenarios offers tremendous leverage.

Still, the United States and the other NSG countries have not yet taken advantage of this opportunity to extract crucial concessions that would reduce the deal’s damage to the nonproliferation system. Instead, the deal would permit India to reach its goal of 20,000 megawatts of nuclear-generated electricity by 2020, if foreign suppliers could build enough reactors, and to fulfill its nuclear weapons aspirations. If the deal goes through, about one-half of India’s nuclear-generated electricity would come from indigenously produced and currently operating foreign-supplied reactors and the other half would come from additional foreign-supplied reactors, including the two 1,000-megawatt reactors Russia is completing at Kudankulam. Therefore, the Indian government has asked foreign suppliers to bid on building up to eight large reactors by 2020.[3] Current and former government officials, however, admitted to me that this planning scenario is ambitious and faces significant financial and construction hurdles.

Plutonium Production

To be sure, Indian officials I interviewed, as well as some deal supporters in the United States, contend that whether or not the deal goes through will not significantly affect India’s weapons-grade plutonium production.[4] Given New Delhi’s dedication to maintaining such production at full capacity, the deal’s potential impact in this regard is indeed murky.

New Delhi has neither published its weapons-usable fissile material holdings nor indicated how large a nuclear arsenal it intends to make. Unofficial estimates by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) indicate that India may have amassed 575 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium as of the end of 2004.[5] ISIS has also estimated that India may have consumed about 131 kilograms of this plutonium in nuclear weapons tests, as reactor fuel, and in processing losses. The CIRUS reactor could produce about 9 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium annually, and Dhruva could make about 23 kilograms annually. If these estimates are accurate, India may have had available 540 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium as of the end of 2007. Using the conservative International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) estimates that 8 kilograms of plutonium are needed to make a nuclear bomb, the stockpiled Indian plutonium could fuel a minimum of 67 first-generation fission bombs. Some analysts have argued that more advanced designs could use as little as a few kilograms of plutonium.[6] Therefore, the upper bound estimate for India’s current warhead capacity is somewhat more than 100 nuclear weapons.

It does appear that, in at least one respect, the deal could stimulate near-term growth in weapons-grade plutonium production. Under the deal, India has pledged to shut down the aging CIRUS reactor by 2010. CIRUS is contentious because India obtained it from Canada in the late 1950s and gave assurances “that the reactor would be used only for peaceful uses.” The United States had provided the heavy water for the reactor. This reactor, however, produced plutonium for India’s 1974 “peaceful” nuclear test, which spurred the United States and other countries to form the NSG. India has considered replacing this 40-megawatt thermal (MWth) reactor with a larger capacity 100 MWth reactor.[7] This replacement reactor could produce about two-and-a-half times the amount of plutonium produced annually by CIRUS, or about 23 kilograms compared to 9 kilograms.

In addition to its weapons-grade plutonium stockpile, with or without the deal, India can make hundreds of nuclear weapons from several tons of unsafeguarded reactor-grade plutonium in spent nuclear fuel it has already accumulated, although the deal could somewhat affect future production. It is unknown how much reactor-grade plutonium India has separated from spent fuel, but the unsafeguarded reactors have produced more than 20 times the amount of plutonium that India has obtained from the two weapons-plutonium-production reactors. The deal did not place any of this past production under safeguards.

The most direct and immediate means of using this material would be as fissile material in nuclear weapons. Although weapons-grade plutonium is ideal for weapons use, reactor-grade plutonium can also serve this purpose.[8] Reportedly, India may have used reactor-grade plutonium in one of its May 1998 tests.[9]

Moreover, this feedstock of unsafeguarded plutonium could fuel India’s planned breeder reactor program (the second stage of Bhabha’s three-stage plan), which will remain outside of safeguards. The five planned breeder reactors by 2020 would require two initial cores of plutonium before recycling of plutonium would make the breeders more than self-sufficient. If only the first 500-megawatt electric Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor were dedicated to weapons production, it could produce up to 140 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium each year, more than four times the current rate of production from CIRUS and Dhruva.[10]

It should be noted that, in a few years, the deal might lower the future rate of production of reactor-grade plutonium. Without the deal, India would have only six reactors under safeguards: the U.S.-built Tarapur 1 and 2, the Canadian-built Rajasthan 1 and 2, and the two Russian reactors under construction at Kudankulam. With the deal, India has agreed to place eight additional indigenously made reactors under safeguards, meaning that eight pressurized heavy-water reactors and their produced plutonium would remain outside of safeguards. Over the course of the next seven years, the net result would be that the annual production rate of unsafeguarded plutonium would be set to peak at about 2,000 kilograms per year in the next two years and fall to about 1,250 kilograms per year by 2015, when safeguards would be applied to all of the reactors subject to the deal.

Therefore, the deal would serve to lower India’s future unsafeguarded plutonium production rate by about one-third.[11] In that respect, the deal is arguably positive for nonproliferation as long as permanent safeguards are applied. Nonetheless, existing and future stocks of spent fuel would be more than sufficient to fuel the breeder program or to provide direct fissile material for nuclear weapons. Furthermore, the deal as structured has given implicit U.S. approval to India’s nuclear weapons program under the guise of bringing India into “the nonproliferation mainstream.”

Directing India Onto a More Responsible Path

To truly bring India into the nonproliferation mainstream, the NSG and Congress must insist on certain conditions. These conditions are minimal in the sense that they would not roll back India’s nuclear weapons program and would not significantly curtail India’s weapons-usable fissile material production capabilities. In that sense, India will have won what it has most sought, recognition of its nuclear weapons program. Even if the deal dies, the United States in effect has already bestowed that recognition. Nonetheless, as a price for that acknowledgement, India should be willing to accept more responsible behavior that would lessen the damage to the nonproliferation regime.

Nuclear trade should be contingent on India refraining from nuclear testing. Also, such commerce should depend on maintenance of permanent safeguards on all designated nuclear facilities. Moreover, the NSG should hold back on transferring enrichment, reprocessing, and heavy-water technologies that could further enhance India’s weapons production capabilities. In addition, the United States should press for India to sign the CTBT and adhere to a weapons-usable fissile material cap. Fully implementing these measures, however, will depend on Chinese and Pakistani actions.

Although most Indian policymakers and analysts have supported the country’s unilateral testing moratorium since 1998, all interviewees agreed that India’s accession to the CTBT has become increasingly tied to the U.S. position on the treaty. India will not ratify the treaty unless the United States does so. Although there is no direct nuclear threat between India and the United States, Indian analysts have made a direct connection between U.S. nuclear actions and India’s place in the world. Summing up this view, Professor Pratap Mehta, the executive director of the Center for Policy Research, based in New Delhi, said India “cannot support a world order that gives into the U.S. maintaining its nuclear primacy.” Moreover, he said that “as long as the U.S. holds out on modernizing its arsenal, India will not sign the FMCT [fissile material cutoff treaty] or the CTBT.”

Acknowledging U.S. influence, top defense expert K. Santhanam, who had a leadership role during the 1998 tests, drew a more direct connection to China and Pakistan. He expressed willingness for India to continue indefinitely the testing moratorium as long as China and Pakistan refrain from testing.

All of the five original nuclear-weapon states, including China, have signed the CTBT. Even if ratification by the United States remains out of reach for the time being, India should be encouraged in tandem with Pakistan to take a step beyond the moratorium and sign the treaty.

Similarly, fissile material production depends crucially on Chinese and Pakistani production. All of the five legally recognized nuclear-weapon states but China have committed to stop making fissile material for weapons. China is believed to have stopped weapons-usable fissile material production, but Beijing has never officially said so. If China would make a public pledge not to make fissile material for weapons, it would put added pressure on India to specify when it would stop stockpiling nuclear weapons material. To bring Pakistan into this arrangement, India could offer a series of alternating unilateral moves. For example, India could verifiably shut down one of its plutonium-production reactors for a period of time. Pakistan could take a similar step with one of its production reactors. Verification could be achieved through third-party commercial satellite monitoring of the status of the reactors.

Although turning back the growth in India’s nuclear arsenal appears unlikely for the foreseeable future, the NSG and the United States have opportunities to shape the future direction of India’s strategic weapons program. They should take it.

India’s Nuclear Energy Program: Ambitious Dreams, Sober Realities

Charles D. Ferguson

New Delhi’s nuclear planners can never be accused of thinking small. Even at the very beginning of India’s nuclear efforts, Homi Bhabha proposed an ambitious three-stage plan for Indian nuclear development that sought to develop original technology that would allow the country to compensate for its insufficient uranium reserves.

Thermal reactors—today’s typical power reactors—represented the first part of Bhabha’s vision. Thermal reactors use slow or thermal energy neutrons to fission uranium-235, a naturally occurring fissile isotope of uranium.

Bhabha envisioned that, in a second stage, spent fuel from these thermal reactors would be reprocessed to separate plutonium for fueling breeder reactors, which would “breed” more plutonium.

In the third and final stage, this plutonium would fuel reactors that would irradiate thorium to make uranium-233. India has about one-third of the world’s known supply of thorium, which is not useful by itself but can transform into the fissile material U-233. U-233 can power nuclear reactors and provide the fissile material for nuclear weapons. This material could therefore provide additional fuel for India’s electrical power production reactors and additional material for nuclear weapons.

If India were able to develop the thorium fuel cycle, it could have available as much as 155,502 gigawatt-years of electrical energy (GWe-yr), in comparison to the potential for 328 GWe-yr from indigenously fueled thermal reactors; 10,660 GWe-yr from indigenous coal (which now provides 69 percent of Indian electricity); and 42,231 GWe-yr from plutonium breeder reactors.[1] Currently, India has an installed electrical generating capacity of about 140 GWe, and the rate of electricity demand is expected to increase by 6 to 8 percent per year through 2020 during this period of projected ambitious economic growth.[2] Thus, the thorium cycle holds out the potential to provide a huge portion of India’s projected electricity needs for several hundred years.

Indian engineers have recognized, however, that significant hurdles block the way toward commercializing the thorium fuel cycle. High costs and major technical problems are likely to delay full commercialization of the thorium cycle until at least 2050, according to Indian energy experts.

To fully realize the thorium cycle, Indian engineers first face the mainly financial challenge of proving the commercial viability of the plutonium breeder program. India has operated a small 40-megawatt pilot-scale breeder reactor since 1985.Although India is building a commercial-scale breeder reactor, which is projected to be completed in 2011, and is planning to build four more of these reactors by 2020, ramping up to a fleet of breeder reactors will likely take decades, and it is uncertain if this program will succeed commercially. Thus, full realization of India’s civilian nuclear energy vision appears blurry, and this program could remain stuck at a low level for the next few decades.

Indeed, after nearly half a century of investment, nuclear energy provides only about 4,000 megawatts of electricity, or 3 percent of India’s electricity needs. That compares to about 20 percent in the United States. Even if the nuclear deal were to go through and India were to meet all of its goals for nuclear power generation, nuclear-generated electricity would only account for about 5 percent of India’s projected electricity demands in 2020. —CHARLES D. FERGUSON


1. Subhinder Thakur, Interview with author, Mumbai, January 4, 2008. Similar estimates appear in R. B. Grover and Subhash Chandra, “Scenario for Growth of Electricity in India,” Energy Policy, November 2006, pp. 2834-2847. For data on coal use, see World Coal Institute, www.worldcoal.org/pages/content/index.asp?PageID=402.

2. John Stephenson and Peter Tynan, “Will the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative Light India?” in Gauging U.S. Indian Strategic Cooperation, Henry Sokolski, editor (Strategic Studies Institute, 2007), p. 24.

India’s Planned Nuclear Triad: Seeking a “Credible Deterrent”

Charles D. Ferguson

If the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal were to move forward without any conditions, it would allow India to achieve its goal of deploying a triad of land-, sea-, and air-based nuclear weapons without hampering its nuclear energy ambitions.

India’s desire for a nuclear triad arises out of its stated need for a “credible minimal deterrent.” Exactly what that means is still being debated within the country, although the emphasis is clearly on “credibility” not minimalism. “Minimal” has been dropped at times from government pronouncements, but Indian analysts have consistently underscored the notion of credibility.[1] Even those who are strong supporters of eventual nuclear disarmament generally agree that credibility requires a second-strike capability.

Second-strike capability demands survivable nuclear forces. To achieve this, Indian analysts have borrowed from the U.S.-Soviet experience during the Cold War and have sought to acquire nuclear-armed submarines. In late February, India took a decisive step toward a sea-based nuclear capability by conducting a test of the K-15 ballistic missile from a submerged pontoon. The K-15 has a reported top range of 700 kilometers, allowing it to strike many targets in Pakistan. Deployed K-15 missiles on submarines could also target high-value sites in China.

The Indian military has been less successful in building nuclear submarines from which to launch such missiles. India’s nuclear-powered submarine program has limped along since 1985, although the Indian navy is trying to ready its first nuclear submarine for sea trials next year. India also received some experience in nuclear submarine operations from 1988 to 1991 when it leased a nuclear-powered attack submarine from the Soviet Union. A Russian crew manned this submarine while training Indian sailors. Presently, Russia is building an Akula-class nuclear submarine for lease to India.

Despite the substantial delays in deploying nuclear-powered submarines, these types of warships are not essential for deploying nuclear-armed forces at sea. India could use conventionally powered submarines as missile carriers, surface ships carrying nuclear-armed cruise missiles, or aircraft carriers with nuclear-capable bombers. Russia is refitting an aircraft carrier for India. Having fallen behind schedule, Moscow will likely complete the refit by late 2010. India has renamed the Admiral Gorshkov carrier as the Vikramaditya, which would be capable of helping protect India’s submarine fleet as well as launching fighter-bomber aircraft.[2] Of these platforms, Indian defense planners prefer the submarine force, whether nuclear or conventionally powered, to optimize survivability of this leg of the envisioned triad.

At this stage, India has not indicated how large its nuclear-armed submarine force could become. Submarines are least vulnerable to a pre-emptive attack when deployed; in port, a submarine is more exposed to attack. Even when deployed, a small submarine force could be vulnerable to anti-submarine warfare. If Pakistan develops effective anti-submarine capabilities, Indian defense planners would feel pressure to build a larger fleet of submarines, thereby increasing the perceived need for more weapons-usable fissile material and more nuclear weapons.

The other two legs of the triad would also require ready-to-deploy nuclear weapons. In the absence of clarifying information from the Indian government, there has been considerable debate about the deployment status of India’s nuclear weapons. Estimates of weapons that are fully assembled or can be fully assembled within days to weeks vary from a few to up to 100 with many analysts settling on about 30 to 50.[3]

There is even more certainty about the numbers of aircraft India has. India has more than 300 nuclear-capable planes, but it is uncertain how many are devoted to the nuclear mission. The most likely nuclear delivery systems are the Jaguar IS and Mirage 2000H fighter-bombers. Russian-acquired older MiG-27 and newer Su-30MKI fighter-bombers might also have a nuclear role.[4] India plans to upgrade its military aircraft within the next few years by purchasing 126 multipurpose planes for up to $12 billion. During a late February 2008 official visit to India, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reportedly promoted sales of U.S.-made aircraft.[5] It is uncertain how many aircraft India has armed or would consider arming with nuclear weapons.

Although the number of nuclear-armed land-based missiles is also uncertain, tests of these missiles are easier to track. The Prithvi I, with a range of 150 kilometers and a payload of 1,000 kilograms, has been approved for the Indian army. The Dhanush is the naval version of the Prithvi II, which is under development and has a range of approximately 350 kilometers. In addition, India has been developing longer-range Agni missiles. Although the Agni I with a 700-kilometer range and the Agni II with a range greater than 2,000 kilometers have reportedly been “inducted” into the army’s missile groups, their operational status is uncertain. In addition, the Agni III with a range greater than 3,000 kilometers is still under development and was test-launched on April 12, 2007. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that the Agni I and II will become fully operational in the next two years. Both can be deployed on road or rail launchers.[6] Once operational, these missile systems would significantly enhance India’s nuclear strike capabilities and could strike parts of China. India is estimated to have up to 100 ballistic missiles with more than half of those in the longer-range Agni class, but it is uncertain how many of these could be armed with nuclear warheads.[7]

Perceived pressures to deter China as well as Pakistan could increase the numbers of deployed and reserve Indian nuclear weapons. Although the actual size of the Indian arsenal is unknown, accounting for even modestly sized bomber, land-based missile, and submarine legs in a triad can give a rough estimate of the potential future size. For aircraft, India may choose to have a few dozen nuclear bombs. Presently, for example, India has about 48 Mirage 2000H planes and about 70 Jaguar ISs, but probably only a portion would have nuclear bombs devoted to them. In the missile leg, a few dozen Prithvi and Agni missiles could be devoted to nuclear missions. In the submarine leg, to ensure survivable forces, India would likely plan at a minimum for one submarine in the shipyard, one in port readying for deployment, and one or two at sea. Assuming up to a dozen missiles per submarine, India may have at least a few dozen warheads for the submarine force. If multiple warheads are placed on the missiles, the warhead numbers could expand by three or more times.

In sum, India’s triad including a single-warhead missile force based on land and underwater and a bomber fleet could exceed more than 100 operational weapons in the coming years. In addition, this warhead amount could increase by a factor of two or more depending on the size of a reserve fissile material stockpile. —CHARLES D. FERGUSON


1. For an extensive, recent Indian report on this issue, see “India’s Credible Minimum Deterrence: A Report,” IPCS Special Report, No. 13, February 2006.

2. Viktor Litovkin, “India to Get Renamed Aircraft Carrier From Russia,” RIA Novosti, June 11, 2007.

3. Arms Control Association, “Arms Control and Proliferation Profile: India,” Fact Sheet, November 2007; Sharon Squassoni, “Indian and Pakistani Nuclear Weapons,” CRS Report for Congress, RS21237, February 17, 2005.

4. Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, “India’s Nuclear Forces, 2007,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July/August 2007, pp. 74-78.

5. Ken Fireman, “Gates Says U.S.-India Ties to Expand Regardless of Nuclear Deal,” Bloomberg, February 26, 2008.

6. Norris and Kristensen, “India’s Nuclear Forces, 2007,” p. 76.

7. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “Nuclear Forces: India 2005,” www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=19273&prog=zgp&proj=znpp; Natural Resources Defense Council, “Nuclear Notebook,” July/August 2007.

Charles D. Ferguson is a fellow for science and technology at the Council on Foreign Relations. He co-authored The Four Faces of Nuclear Terrorism (Monterey Institute of International Studies and the Nuclear Threat Initiative, 2004).


1. For a different analysis that reaches similar conclusions, see Raja Menon, “Nuclear Stability, Deterrence and Separation of India’s Civil and Weapon Facilities,” Strategic Analysis, Vol. 29, No. 4 (October-December 2005).

2. Zia Mian et al.,“Plutonium Production in India and the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal,” in Gauging U.S.-Indian Strategic Cooperation, ed. Henry Sokolski (Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, 2007), p. 109.

3. Note that there is a discrepancy between NPCIL and Government of India Planning Commission estimates of the number of foreign-supplied reactors by 2020. The NPCIL cites up to eight 1,000-megawatt reactors from foreign suppliers while the commission cites six of these reactors. The difference is accounted for by the NPCIL’s more ambitious projections of 23,180 megawatts of electricity (including contributions from a few breeder reactors); the commission calls for 20,000 megawatts, which it characterizes as “optimistic.” Government of India Planning Commission, “Integrated Energy Policy: Report of the Expert Committee,” August 2006, p. 47.

4. Ashley J. Tellis, “Atoms for War?: U.S.-Indian Civilian Nuclear Cooperation and India’s Nuclear Arsenal,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2006.

5. David Albright, “India’s Military Plutonium Inventory, End-2004,” Institute for Science and International Security, May 7, 2005.

6. Thomas B. Cochran and Christopher E. Paine, “The Amount of Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium Needed for Pure Fission Nuclear Weapons,” Natural Resources Defense Council, April 13, 1995.

7. The thermal power rating (MWth) specifies the power that is produced by the reactor core. Knowing this number, one can estimate the plutonium production capacity. By contrast, the electric power rating (MWe) tells the electrical power production capacity. Because of energy conversion loses, MWe is always less than MWth.

8. U.S. Department of Energy, “Nonproliferation and Arms Control Assessment of Weapons-Usable Fissile Material Storage and Excess Plutonium Disposition Alternatives,” 1997.

9. George Perkovich, India’s Nuclear Bomb: The Impact on Global Proliferation (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1999), pp. 428-430.

10. Alexander Glaser and M. V. Ramana, “Weapon-Grade Plutonium Production Potential in the Indian Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor,” Science and Global Security, Vol. 15, No. 2 (2007), pp. 85-105.

11. Mian et al., “Plutonium Production in India and the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal,” p. 115.

Indian Politics Stymie U.S.-Indian Nuclear Deal

Wade Boese

With U.S. officials warning that time is running out on an initiative to rollback restrictions on global nuclear trade with India, that country’s coalition government failed March 17 to persuade its leftist allies to drop their opposition to the U.S.-Indian effort. Another meeting to sway the holdouts is supposed to take place sometime in April.

The government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is trying to win over the leftist parties because they have threatened to withdraw support for the ruling coalition if it takes certain steps toward implementing what the leftists charge is a deal that will erode India’s sovereignty and security. Such a split could trigger early elections that risk unseating Singh’s government.

The key issue at the March conclave was whether Singh’s government should finalize a safeguards agreement it negotiated over the past several months with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Safeguards are measures that the agency applies to a country’s declared civilian nuclear materials, technologies, and facilities to guard against their use for nuclear weapons purposes.

As part of a March 2006 agreement with President George W. Bush, Singh pledged to put eight additional Indian thermal nuclear reactors under IAEA safeguards, leaving another eight outside of safeguards and free to contribute to India’s nuclear weapons sector. New Delhi also plans to keep its two fast breeder reactors, which can produce large quantities of the nuclear bomb material plutonium, outside of safeguards. It further retains the option to designate any future reactors of any type that it builds off-limits to the IAEA.

Singh’s government is seeking the leftist parties’ endorsement of the new safeguards arrangement so it can be completed and presented for approval by the IAEA’s 35-member Board of Governors. The leftist parties have warned that they will break with the government if it proceeds with the safeguards agreement without their consent.

The text of the India-specific safeguards agreement remains secret and unfinished. A source familiar with the IAEA-Indian talks told Arms Control Today March 19 that “the sides are close to a final text, but India has to confirm the text” before it can be presented to the board, which typically has agreed to safeguards arrangements by consensus. It can, however, approve them with a simple majority vote.

At the March meeting, Singh’s government did not share the safeguards text with the representatives of the leftist parties, opting to brief them instead. The Hindu, one of India’s largest daily newspapers, reported afterward that leftist leaders said they need more details and that deliberations might take another three to four months.

That prospect conflicts with recent statements by U.S. government officials and legislators that the IAEA Board of Governors and the voluntary Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) must act rapidly on the U.S.-Indian initiative so U.S. lawmakers can take it up before this summer when Congress will recess and then turn its attention to the November elections. (See ACT, March 2008 .) The 45 members of the NSG, including the United States, seek to coordinate their nuclear export rules, one of which restricts trade with countries, such as India, that do not subject their entire nuclear enterprise to IAEA safeguards and remain outside the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. India largely has been ostracized from the international nuclear market since conducting a 1974 nuclear blast that used material derived from Canadian and U.S. exports designated for peaceful purposes.

U.S. lawmakers in December 2006 approved legislation with a provision that the NSG must clear India for expanded nuclear trade before Congress will vote on a U.S.-Indian nuclear trade agreement negotiated last summer. (See ACT, September 2007 .) Meanwhile, the NSG is waiting on IAEA board approval of the Indian safeguards agreement.

The next NSG meeting is scheduled to occur May 19-22, which is prior to the next regular IAEA board meeting June 2-6. A special meeting of the board, however, can be convened at the request of the IAEA director-general or any board member, including the United States or India. The source familiar with the IAEA-Indian talks said that there are “no plans for a special session of the board” but noted that could change quickly if the Indian government gives final approval to the negotiated safeguards text.

Still, the window might already be closed. Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, told the Hindustan Times Feb. 29 that the “Indian government needs to move in the month of March on the IAEA Board of Governors” in order to give the NSG and Congress time to act. Noting that “it’s not going to happen overnight,” he warned that the NSG process will be “complicated” and “require many meetings.” Burns further cautioned that if Congress did not get around to passing the agreement this year, he thought “it’s very likely that we will not see it continued by a new administration.”

India Test-Launches Submarine Missile

Wade Boese

India took a recent step toward its longtime goal of deploying nuclear weapons at sea by test-firing a missile from beneath the ocean’s surface. The submarine that this missile type is supposed to arm is scheduled to be put to sea for the first time next year.

 Official details about the Feb. 26 missile test are scant, and the Indian government did not respond to Arms Control Today inquiries requesting information. India’s media, however, reported on the event at length, albeit with some conflicting data.

In addition, the Pakistani government confirmed March 5 that it had been “duly informed” of the test in advance by India. The two rivals agreed in October 2005 to give each other prior notice of their surface-to-surface ballistic missile flight tests. (See ACT, November 2005. ) That notification suggests that the missile tested was a ballistic missile and not a cruise missile as some reports stated. A cruise missile is powered through its entire flight and can maneuver, unlike a ballistic missile, which is only powered during the early stages of its flight and then follows a trajectory dictated by gravity to its target.

The missile India fired from a submersible platform about 50 meters deep in the Bay of Bengal waters was most frequently cited as the K-15. Some reports also called it the Sagarika, which is a missile that two years ago India’s defense minister told lawmakers did not exist.

All reports generally agree that the tested missile can fly approximately 700 kilometers and carry a nuclear warhead. Most reports also declare the experiment was the missile’s inaugural undersea launch. Agence France-Presse Feb. 18 quoted S. Prahlada, a top official of India’s Defence Research and Development Organization, as telling reporters, “[W]e have completed all preparations for the first-ever launch of the missile.” But some reports indicated the missile may have been previously tested secretly, perhaps several times.

Rajesh Basrur, author of the book Minimum Deterrence and India’s Nuclear Security, told Arms Control Today in a March 20 e-mail that the previously reported tests were “component tests” and “the recent one was the first ‘undersea’ trial.” He added, “[T]hat would partly explain the publicity given to it.”

Another expert on Indian nuclear weapons, Bharat Karnad, also e-mailed Arms Control Today March 23 that the February launch was a “full-system test.” Formerly a member of India’s National Security Advisory Board and a participant in crafting India’s 1999 draft nuclear doctrine (see ACT, July/August 1999 ), Karnad contended the launch was a success but “some kinks appeared thereafter in [the missile’s] flight which need ironing out.”

India has at least a few years to try and perfect the missile. Sureesh Mehta, India’s top naval official, disclosed last December that the first Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) would be ready for sea trials in 2009. If the trials go well, it could be inducted into service two or three years later.

Largely kept secret, the ATV would be India’s first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine and India’s first submarine able to fire nuclear-armed missiles. India reportedly is building three of the boats. It began developing nuclear power submarines in the 1970s, but their development was delayed by troubles in building a power reactor small enough to fit onboard.

India’s interest in nuclear-armed submarines has been no secret. The 1999 draft nuclear doctrine endorsed a sea-based nuclear delivery capability. In its May 2006 “vision document,” the Indian navy stated its intent to conduct operations from “conventional war fighting to nuclear deterrence.”

Basrur and Karnad stated that India wants nuclear-armed submarines due to the notion that they are more “invulnerable” than air or ground systems. The thinking is that such arms more persuasively dissuade an adversary that, in a first strike, it will be able to minimize or eliminate the possibility of retaliation. India claims it particularly needs survivable forces because it has forsworn the first use of nuclear weapons. Basrur disagrees, contending that submarine-delivered nuclear weapons invite instability by increasing “risk precisely because they are hard to detect…thereby reducing reaction time and encouraging early warning and launch.” 

Admiral Muhammad Afzal Tahir, chief of Pakistan’s naval staff, reacted to the Indian test by reportedly calling it a “very serious issue” and warning it could provoke “a new arms race in the region.” In a lengthy interview several months ago with Asian Defence Journal, however, Tahir discounted the possibility that Pakistan would pursue a sea-based nuclear force, stating, “[P]resently, we do not have [the] technological capability and we cannot afford it.”

Other countries with nuclear-armed submarine missiles are China, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and France, which recently commissioned its latest nuclear-armed submarine (see page 35 ). Israel, which neither confirms nor denies its widely believed nuclear arms possession, also allegedly has equipped submarine-based cruise missiles with nuclear warheads. (See ACT, November 2003 .)


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