Login/Logout

*
*  

"No one can solve this problem alone, but together we can change things for the better." 

– Setsuko Thurlow
Hiroshima Survivor
June 6, 2016
India

NSG Still Mulling Indian Membership

Daniel Horner

The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) continued discussions on admitting India to the group, but apparently remained divided on the issue during its annual plenary meeting last month in Seattle.

In a statement released June 22, the last day of the meeting, the 46-member group said only that it “continued to consider all aspects of the implementation of the 2008 Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India and discussed the NSG relationship with India.” That wording was identical to what the group said on the subject in last year’s statement.

The NSG is not a formal organization, and its guidelines are not binding.

In September 2008, the group eased long-standing restrictions on nuclear trade with India by its members. NSG rules generally forbid the sale of nuclear goods such as reactors and fuel to countries that, like India, are not parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

In November 2010, during a visit to India, President Barack Obama announced his support for Indian entry into the NSG and three other multilateral export control groups. At the NSG’s 2011 plenary meeting, the United States submitted a “Food for Thought” paper on options for bringing India into the group.

A key criterion for NSG membership is that a country is a party to and complying with the NPT or a nuclear-weapon-free-zone treaty. India would be the first country that did not meet that criterion.

In a June 27 interview, U.S. Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman, the new NSG chairman, said members had expressed “a variety of the views” on the issue of Indian membership. As Poneman noted, the NSG makes decisions by consensus. He characterized the discussion as one of “food-for-thought ideas.”

Asked about India’s lack of NPT membership, which some countries have indicated would be a stumbling block, Poneman said that there are “numerous ways [the Indians] can attest their commitment to nonproliferation norms” and that “the full panoply of [Indian] commitments is being looked at.” Among India’s commitments is its declaration that it is adhering to the NSG export guidelines.

Pressing China on Reactor Deal

On another ongoing issue for the NSG, Poneman said the United States and other countries were continuing to seek information from China about its plans to sell two reactors to Pakistan, which is not an NPT party.

When China joined the NSG in 2004, it had already built a power reactor at Pakistan’s Chashma site. It claimed at the time that, under the NSG’s “grandfather” provisions, it was entitled to build a second one, on the grounds that the second project was covered in its existing agreement with Pakistan. By most accounts, China told the NSG members that its agreement with Pakistan covered those two units but that it would not supply Pakistan with any reactors beyond those. China reportedly now is arguing that the proposed additional reactors also are grandfathered.

When word of the planned sale of the so-called Chashma-3 and -4 reactors emerged two years ago, a U.S. official said, “Without an exception granted by the NSG by consensus, Chinese construction of additional nuclear power plants in Pakistan beyond what was grandfathered in 2004 would be inconsistent with NSG guidelines and China’s commitments to the NSG.” (See ACT, June 2010.)

In the interview, Poneman said the United States is “not the only government that has this set of concerns.” The U.S. government “has been very clear” about its concerns and has “repeatedly asked” China for more details, he said. The Chinese have replied, but the United States would like more detail, he said. “We’ve been pressing for answers, and we’re still pressing,” Poneman said.

Lists Being Updated

In its statement at the Seattle meeting, the NSG “emphasized the importance of keeping its lists up to date with technological developments and took stock of the ongoing fundamental review process” through which it keeps its export control lists current. Poneman said the highest U.S. priority for the upcoming year was to complete the review. Some changes to the list were approved at the meeting, and more are coming, he said.

According to the statement, NSG members also “discussed brokering and transit and agreed to consider these matters further.” In the case of some exports, the main proliferation concern may come not from the supplier or the ultimate recipient but from an intermediary, Poneman said. The group wants to be sure “not to turn a blind eye if that’s a vulnerability” and will take up that issue “in a way not done until now,” he said.

In an interview last September, Poneman’s predecessor, Piet de Klerk of the Netherlands, discussed the possibility of creating “stronger relationships with different [NSG] stakeholders, be it media, be it civil society.” Poneman said that, at the Seattle meeting, de Klerk provided a briefing on those ideas, which got an “overall positive response.” The group will “continue consultations” on transparency issues, he said. It makes sense “to open the aperture,” and the group will look for opportunities to do that, he said.

The NSG chairmanship rotates annually among the member countries. A country kicks off its chairmanship year by hosting the plenary meeting.

The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) continued discussions on admitting India to the group, but apparently remained divided on the issue during its annual plenary meeting last month in Seattle.

India Announces Successful Agni-5 Test

Eric Auner

The Indian government announced on April 19 that it had successfully conducted the first test of the nuclear-capable Agni-5 ballistic missile.

The Agni-5 is the first Indian ballistic missile capable of reaching almost the entire Chinese landmass, including Beijing, as well as the Middle East. India was already capable of reaching all of Pakistan, India’s other nuclear-armed neighbor, with its existing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.

The three-stage Agni-5 is solid fueled and can carry a 1,500-kilogram payload a distance of 5,000 kilometers, according to news reports. The missile was fired from Wheeler Island, off the eastern coast of the country.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called the test “another milestone in our quest to add to the credibility of our security and preparedness and to continuously explore the frontiers of science.” Singh said that he hoped the scientists involved with the Agni-5 would continue to promote “self-reliance in defense and other walks of national life.” India has long emphasized domestic development of advanced military technologies.

The Agni-5, which is road and rail mobile, according to India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), is the latest in the Agni series of ballistic missiles, which have had progressively longer ranges. The deployed Agni-3 has a range of 3,000 kilometers. India tested the Agni-4, which has a range of 3,500 kilometers, last November. (See ACT, January/February 2012.)

The DRDO, which is the main Indian government entity responsible for developing new advanced military technologies such as ballistic missiles, issued a press release that said the Agni-5’s “composite Rocket Motors have performed well and made India completely self-reliant.” Other indigenous technologies incorporated into the missile included the “Ring Laser Gyro based Inertial Navigation System” and the “Micro Navigation System,” according to the press release.

In an April 19 U.S. Department of State press briefing, spokesman Mark Toner reiterated his previous statement that the United States “urge[s] all nuclear-capable states to exercise restraint regarding their nuclear and missile capabilities” while recognizing India’s “solid nonproliferation record.”

An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) typically is defined as being able to carry a given payload a distance of 5,500 kilometers or more. Given its declared range of 5,000 kilometers, the Agni-5 would be considered an intermediate-range ballistic missile. Media reports and analysts in India and elsewhere have described the Agni-5 as either an ICBM or long-range missile. India could extend the range of the Agni-5 by using a payload lighter than 1,500 kilograms. Generally, nuclear-capable missiles have a payload capacity of 500 kilograms and higher.

Official reaction from Pakistan has been muted. According to a Pakistani official speaking at a press briefing held after the launch, India had informed Pakistan of the launch, consistent with an agreement between the two countries on prenotification of ballistic missile launches.

Pakistan tested the Shaheen-1A nuclear-capable ballistic missile on April 25, according to a press release from the Pakistani military’s Inter Services Public Relations office. The release did not state the range of the missile, but analysts said it was approximately 700 kilometers.

China, with which India fought a war in 1962, has not reacted strongly to the test. In an April 19 statement, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin said, “China and India are cooperative partners rather than competitive rivals.” The Chinese state-owned Global Times, however, published an editorial soon after the test, warning that “India should not overestimate its strength” and that India “would stand no chance in an overall arms race with China.”

Some Chinese analysts have claimed that the Agni-5 actually has a range of 8,000 kilometers, according to the Indo-Asian News Service.

In a piece on the website of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, a think tank affiliated with the Indian government, Abhijit Singh wrote that the test may “end up impacting the balance-of-power equation in the subcontinent” as well as “the broader India-China relationship.”

India is not party to any international agreement that limits its ability to develop and test ballistic missiles. When India and Pakistan conducted nuclear tests in 1998, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1172, which condemned the tests and called on both countries to “cease development” of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. Both countries have developed and tested nuclear-capable ballistic missiles since the resolution’s passage.

Meira Kumar, the speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Indian Parliament’s lower house, called the Agni-5 test “a major leap forward in India’s missile technology and military deterrent capabilities,” according to the Economic Times, an Indian newspaper. Nitin Gadkari, leader of India’s largest opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), “congratulated the DRDO scientists for this proud milestone” in a statement on the BJP’s website.

DRDO Chief Controller for Research and Development W. Selvamurthy told the Indian television program Headline Today that the Agni-5 can carry multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles. He said that this capability has been “proven” but was not “demonstrated” during this most recent trial.

Five countries currently possess ICBMs: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. North Korea unsuccessfully attempted to launch a satellite into orbit on April 13 (see page 29). That test, which was widely seen as a cover for a long-range ballistic missile test, was met with international condemnation, including from the United States.

India is not a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the international group that coordinates export controls for missile technology. The Obama administration is supporting Indian membership in the MTCR and other regimes that limit exports of sensitive technology. (See ACT, December 2010.)

The MTCR does not limit partner nations’ own missile testing and deployments. However, since 1993 the United States has had a policy of requiring that countries joining the group to adhere to the regime’s key missile-range restrictions for their own missiles as well.

The Indian government announced on April 19 that it had successfully conducted the first test of the nuclear-capable Agni-5 ballistic missile.

Australia Allows Uranium Sales to India

Daniel Horner

The Australian Labor Party on Dec. 4 endorsed a proposal by its leader, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, to end a ban on uranium sales to India. The 206-185 vote to lift the long-standing ban came at a party conference in Sydney.

For decades, India could not purchase uranium or most other nuclear goods from members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) because New Delhi is not a party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and does not accept full-scope safeguards, which means that it does not open all its nuclear facilities to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. However, in 2008 the NSG, which includes Australia, voted to make an exception from its general rule and allow exports to India. (See ACT, October 2008.)

At a Nov. 15 press conference previewing the Labor meeting, Gillard said that, in light of the NSG decision, “for us to refuse to budge is all pain with no gain.” Australia is a leading exporter of uranium.

Critics of the Labor decision argue that selling uranium would violate Australia’s obligations under the Treaty of Rarotonga, which establishes a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the South Pacific. Article 4 of the treaty says that nuclear exports by treaty parties must be “subject to the safeguards required by Article III.1 of the NPT.”

The NPT article does not use the term “full-scope safeguards,” but in 1996, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, a member of the Liberal Party, told Parliament that the article requires such safeguards. He was responding to questions about potential Australian uranium sales to Taiwan.

In the wake of the Labor vote, former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, also a Liberal, said Gillard was “dead wrong” to lift the ban, in part because of the Rarotonga treaty language. Writing in the Dec. 12 Sydney Morning Herald, he said that “selling uranium to India would breach our international obligations.”

In a Dec. 21 e-mail to Arms Control Today, a spokeswoman for Gillard said, “Any agreement to transfer uranium to India would comply with our international legal obligations.”

Gillard, in a Nov. 15 piece in the Herald, said, “We must, of course, expect of India the same standards we do of all countries for uranium export—strict adherence to International Atomic Energy Agency arrangements and strong bilateral undertakings and transparency measures that will provide assurances our uranium will be used only for peaceful purposes.”

The Australian Labor Party on Dec. 4 endorsed a proposal by its leader, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, to end a ban on uranium sales to India. The 206-185 vote to lift the long-standing ban came at a party conference in Sydney.

India Extending Missile Reach

Peter Crail and Kathleen E. Masterson

India is preparing to test a missile with a range of 5,000 kilometers early this year and possibly develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in the future, Indian defense officials have indicated in recent weeks.

India conducted its first successful test of the Agni-4, which has a 3,500-kilometer range, Nov. 15. In a press release that day, New Delhi’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said the test marks a “quantum leap” in India’s indigenous technological capabilities.

Following the test, the defense officials said their country had mastered a series of technologies that would allow it to field longer-range systems. However, there appear to be some differences within India’s defense community over whether New Delhi should use those technologies to cross the ICBM threshold by developing missiles with a range exceeding 5,500 kilometers.

Only five countries—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—have a demonstrated ICBM capability. North Korea has unsuccessfully tested missiles in the ICBM range.

The technologies India claimed it has successfully developed include a re-entry heat shield to protect the warhead from extreme temperatures as it returns into the atmosphere, an improved navigation system, and a composite rocket motor. Indian officials claimed the country’s scientists made these advances even though it has been subject to international technology controls to prevent the spread of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. India is not a member of the 35-nation Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which was formed in 1987 to restrict the spread of missile technology. New Delhi committed in 2008 to adhere to MTCR rules, and Washington announced in November 2010 that it would support India’s membership in the group. (See ACT, December 2010.)

DRDO Director-General Vijay Kumar Saraswat told reporters Nov. 16, “The technologies proven in this mission will give us the necessary confidence to go in for the Agni-5 launch in a couple of months.” Indian defense officials have since said that the Agni-5, which is to have a range of 5,000 kilometers, will undergo its first test in February.

Michael Elleman, a former UN weapons inspector who is now a senior fellow with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said in a Dec. 21 e-mail to Arms Control Today that India’s missile development pattern was “highly unusual.”

“They conduct a limited number of tests, declare development completed and then embark on an improvement effort,” he said. “[A]t least a half-dozen flight tests would be needed to validate the performance and reliability of the new missile under a range of operational conditions,” he added.

The two-stage, solid-fuel Agni-4 failed its first test, in December 2010 as the Agni-2 Prime, and was not tested again until Nov. 15.

India fields a number of systems geared toward South Asian rival Pakistan, but it has been increasing the range of its ballistic missiles in order to place a larger number of Chinese targets in range. The Agni-5 would be capable of covering all of China while being deployed deep within Indian territory.

For some current and former Indian defense officials, such a range is all that is necessary for India’s deterrence needs. Former Indian President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, who is regarded as the father of India’s missile program, told the Indian newspaper The Tribune Nov. 18 that a missile that can reach 5,000 kilometers “was enough as the potential enemies were well within this range.”

Saraswat similarly told reporters in February 2010 that India is focused on “threat mitigation” and does intend to develop an ICBM.

However, in comments to reporters last June 11, Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik said, “India should pursue an ICBM program” with missiles having a range of 10,000 kilometers “or even more,” the Hindustan Times reported.

“Breaking out of the regional context is important as the country’s sphere of influence grows,” Naik said.

In a Dec. 13 e-mail to Arms Control Today, Bharat Karnad, one of the authors of India’s 1999 draft nuclear doctrine, said, “The technological momentum driving the Indian missile program is going to take it well beyond the 5,000 km range Agni-5 and into producing genuine ICBM category delivery systems, if only to match China.” He added that although Kalam’s suggestions would be “taken on board, his influence on current missile programs should not be overstated.”

According to Karnad, “[L]onger range, more accurate missiles will be developed [by India] as a technological imperative."

India is preparing to test a missile with a range of 5,000 kilometers early this year and possibly develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in the future, Indian defense officials have indicated in recent weeks.

More Collateral Damage from Missile Defense

U.S.-Russian negotiations on strategic arms reductions have demonstrated time and again that U.S. missile defense plans are an obstacle to negotiating lower levels of offensive nuclear forces. Security experts have been providing more reminders lately that in attempting to treat the effects of ballistic missile proliferation, missile defense programs are also having a counterproductive effect on the causes of ballistic missile proliferation. One of the shibboleths characteristic of most missile defense advocates is their faith-based assertion that missile defenses discourage proliferators...

India, Pakistan Resume Security Dialogue

Kristina Popova

The foreign ministers of nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan met July 27 in New Delhi, resuming their high-level dialogue on security and confidence-building measures for the first time since the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. A key focus of the discussions was the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir.

The bilateral relationship “should not be held hostage to the past,” said Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. “It is our desire to make the dialogue process uninterrupted and uninterruptible,” she said.

Khar’s Indian counterpart, S.M. Krishna, expressed confidence that relations between the two countries are “on the right track,” but he cautioned that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” A joint statement, released after the official talks, characterized the atmosphere as “candid, cordial and constructive” and announced that the two sides had agreed on new arrangements to increase travel and trade across the disputed Line of Control.

The ministers also committed to convening meetings of expert groups in Islamabad in September on confidence-building measures relating to nuclear and conventional weapons, which would constitute the first information-sharing initiative in years on nuclear issues between the two states. The most recent development in this field was a 2005 agreement on prenotification of ballistic missile tests.

The bilateral discussions have taken on a new urgency in the wake of Pakistan’s efforts to expand the production of fissile material for weapons. Islamabad’s current arsenal is estimated to include between 90 and 110 warheads. India is believed to have enough separated fissile material for an arsenal of more than 100 nuclear warheads. In April, Pakistan tested the Hatf-9 short-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile. (See ACT, May 2011.)

The foreign ministers of nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan met July 27 in New Delhi, resuming their high-level dialogue on security and confidence-building measures for the first time since the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

International Day Against Nuclear Tests: Translating Words Into Action

By Daryl G. Kimball August 29, 2011 is the second official International Day Against Nuclear Tests . It coincides with the 20th anniversary of the historic events that led to the closure of the former Soviet nuclear test site of Semipalatinsk, where more than 456 explosions contaminated the land and its inhabitants. Citizens of the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan protest nuclear weapons testing at the Soviet nuclear testing site near Semipalatinsk in August, 1989. Photo by Yuri Kuidin. The courageous efforts of the Kazakh people and their allies forced Moscow's communist regime to halt...

NSG Revises Rules on Sensitive Exports

An early version of this story appeared here.

Daniel Horner

Seven years after they started discussions on the issue and two and a half years after they formulated a “clean text,” the members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) agreed in June on revised guidelines for exports relating to uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing.

At issue were paragraphs 6 and 7 of the NSG guidelines. The old version of paragraph 6 said that suppliers should “exercise restraint” in exports of sensitive technology. The new paragraph 6 essentially retains that language, but specifies a list of criteria to be considered. The new paragraph 7, which deals with “[s]pecial arrangements for export of enrichment facilities, equipment and technology,” adds details on restrictions on sharing such technology.

A June 24 NSG press release issued at the end of the group’s annual plenary meeting in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, said only that the group had “agreed to strengthen its guidelines on the transfer of sensitive enrichment and reprocessing technologies.” The NSG did not release the text of the new guidelines, but a copy was obtained by Arms Control Today.

The NSG is not a formal organization, and its guidelines are not legally binding.

The main change from the previous guidelines is the addition of the list, known as “objective criteria.” Among other requirements, potential recipients of sensitive technology must be parties to and “in full compliance” with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), and they must be adhering to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards requirements.

Focus on Additional Protocol

In a separate section, the text says that suppliers should authorize enrichment and reprocessing exports only if the recipient has brought into force a comprehensive safeguards agreement and an additional protocol or, “pending this, [the recipient] is implementing appropriate safeguards agreements in cooperation with the IAEA, including a regional accounting and control arrangement for nuclear materials, as approved by the IAEA Board of Governors.” In a June 27 interview, a U.S. official said one significant aspect of the new guidelines is the reference to an additional protocol as a condition of supply.

The language on “a regional accounting and control arrangement” is a clear reference to the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC). Argentina and Brazil have not signed an additional protocol, which would give IAEA inspectors greater latitude to carry out their inspections in those countries, including the right to inspect any undeclared facilities. The NSG language would make Argentina and Brazil eligible to receive sensitive exports without having an additional protocol in force.

Since the appearance of the November 2008 “clean” draft text, critics have said the group’s concession on this point is a major flaw in the NSG’s approach because the ABACC arrangements do not provide the level of assurance about the countries’ nuclear programs that an additional protocol would.

In a June 30 interview, a Brazilian official said the Quadripartite Agreement among Argentina, Brazil, ABACC, and the IAEA furnishes a “more than sufficient guarantee” of the peaceful nature of the two countries’ nuclear programs. It “add[s] value” to INFCIRC/153, the standard safeguards agreement that the IAEA signs with NPT non-nuclear-weapon states, in part because it provides for the application of safeguards by ABACC as well as the IAEA, he said.

Compared to comprehensive safeguards agreements, it furnishes “an amount of information and mutual confidence that is superior,” he said. Additional protocols are not a legal requirement under the NPT or the IAEA, and that point has been recognized in all relevant forums, including the NSG, he said.

Brazil’s 2008 National Defense Strategy was “very clear” that the country would not adhere to new safeguards commitments until the nuclear-weapon states made significant progress toward fulfilling their disarmament obligations under Article VI of the NPT, he said.

Asked if the “pending this” language in the new guidelines suggested that the Quadripartite Agreement eventually would be supplemented by an additional protocol, the official said, “We do not see an obligation deriving from this [language].” Citing the NPT and IAEA resolutions, he said it is the “sovereign decision of any country” to conclude an additional protocol.

The U.S. official said the language “was a way of saying that the NSG would continue to review the situation with respect to the status of adherence to the additional protocol.”

‘General’ Subjective Criteria

The proposed November 2008 version of the NSG guidelines also included so-called subjective criteria: “[w]hether the recipient has a credible and coherent rationale for pursuing enrichment and reprocessing capability in support of civil nuclear power generation programmes,” “[w]hether the transfer would have a negative impact on the stability and security of the recipient state,” and “[g]eneral conditions of stability and security.”

The new text dispenses with that list. Instead, it invokes other sections of the guidelines that give suppliers broad authority to ensure that their exports do not contribute to proliferation. It also adds language saying that suppliers should “tak[e] into account at their national discretion, any relevant factors as may be applicable.”

The U.S. official said the section retains the concept of subjective criteria, but “has been written in a much more general manner.”

The guidelines also contain new language at the beginning of paragraph 7, saying in part, “All States that meet the criteria in paragraph 6 above are eligible for transfers of enrichment facilities, equipment and technology.”

According to the U.S. official, being “eligible” to receive enrichment and reprocessing exports does not equate to a “right” to receive them. A key point of the new guidelines is that “the suppliers as a group were concerned with more than a specific list,” he said.

However, in additional new language at the beginning of paragraph 7, the guidelines say that “[s]uppliers recognize that the application of the Special Arrangements [on enrichment-related exports] below must be consistent with NPT principles, in particular Article IV. Any application by the suppliers of the following Special Arrangements may not abrogate the rights of States meeting the criteria in paragraph 6.”

Article IV of the NPT establishes an “inalienable right” of treaty parties to pursue peaceful nuclear programs.

The section on enrichment-related transfers requires that they be under so-called black box conditions that seek to prevent the technology from being replicated. There is a limited exception to allow cooperation on development of potential new enrichment technologies, but the restrictions would apply once the technology was commercialized.

As the U.S. official noted, black-box requirements are now a global industry standard and are being applied to two enrichment plants in the United States. He said “enshrin[ing]” industry practice in the NSG guidelines is “a very useful thing to do.”

Effect on India

In September 2008, the NSG made an exception for India from the group’s general requirement for so-called full-scope safeguards, the requirement that recipients of exports open all their nuclear facilities to IAEA inspection. In the run-up to the announcement on the revised guidelines on enrichment and reprocessing, a key question was whether India would be exempted from the new restrictions as well.

Even before the NSG or the United States announced the agreement on the new guidelines, the U.S. Department of State’s press office issued a statement saying that the Obama administration “fully supports” the “clean” NSG exception for India and “speedy implementation” of the U.S.-Indian civil nuclear cooperation agreement, which Congress approved in 2008. “Nothing about the new Enrichment and Reprocessing (ENR) transfer restrictions agreed to by NSG members should be construed as detracting from the unique impact and importance of the U.S.-India agreement or our commitment to full civil nuclear cooperation,” the statement said.

Indian officials and observers often use the term “clean waiver” to suggest that the 2008 NSG decision lifted all the restrictions that previously had been in place on nuclear exports to India. However, the June 23 State Department press release said, “Efforts in the NSG to strengthen controls on the transfers of ENR are consistent with long-standing U.S. policy that pre-dates the Civil Nuclear Agreement and have been reaffirmed on an annual basis by the [Group of Eight industrialized countries] for years.”

The U.S. official said that NSG members had begun discussing a list of criteria for enrichment- and reprocessing-related exports in 2004 and, by the end of the year, had agreed that NPT membership should be a criterion. The plans for U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation were announced in July 2005. (See ACT, September 2005.)

The official also noted that the text of the 2008 NSG decision exempts India only from the section of the NSG guidelines dealing with the requirement for full-scope safeguards and specifically says that “transfers of sensitive exports remain subject to paragraphs 6 and 7.”

In a June 30 interview, a European diplomat agreed that, under the guidelines, India could not receive enrichment and reprocessing technology. India’s Ministry of External Affairs and its embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.

Indian Membership

According to the NSG press statement, the members also “continued to consider all aspects of the implementation of the 2008 Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India and discussed the NSG relationship with India.” Last November, President Barack Obama announced his support for Indian membership in the NSG and three other export control regimes. (See ACT, December 2010.)

India would be the first member of the NSG that is not a party to the NPT. A key criterion for membership in the group is that the country is a party to and complying with the NPT or a nuclear-weapon-free-zone treaty.

A confidential May 23 U.S.-drafted “Food for Thought” paper circulated to NSG members offers two options for bringing India into the group. One would be to revise the admission criteria “in a manner that would accurately describe India’s situation.” The other would be to “recognize” that the criteria, known as “Factors to Be Considered,” are not “mandatory criteria” and that a candidate for membership does not necessarily have to meet all of them.

At the Noordwijk meeting, the United States “did not ask anybody to take a decision,” the U.S. official said. There was “a good, solid discussion” with expressions of “views on both sides,” he said. According to the official, some delegates were “very concerned about the NPT issue.”

The United States invited additional comments, with a deadline of Sept. 1, he said. That would allow time to prepare for follow-up discussions on the sidelines of the IAEA general conference later that month and at the meeting of the NSG’s consultative group in October or November, he said.

 

Seven years after they started discussions on the issue and two and a half years after they formulated a “clean text,” the members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) last week agreed on revised guidelines for exports relating to uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing.

New Nuclear Suppliers Rules a Net Plus

Daryl G. Kimball

After years of discussion, the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has agreed on a clearer, tougher set of guidelines designed to prevent the spread of uranium-enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing equipment and technology. The action should help guard against the further proliferation of sensitive equipment and technology that can be used to make fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Although country neutral, the new NSG rules fix one of the holes created by the NSG’s ill-conceived 2008 decision to exempt India from most NSG trading restrictions and should ensure that sensitive enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technologies will not be transferred to India and used in its unsafeguarded military nuclear program.

The new guidelines, which were approved at the NSG's June 23-24 meeting in the Netherlands, bar enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technology exports to states that have not signed or are not in compliance with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), do not allow comprehensive International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, and do not allow more extensive monitoring under the terms of an additional protocol, among other criteria.

Only three states have not signed the NPT: India, Israel, and Pakistan. Iran, North Korea, and Syria are currently in noncompliance with their IAEA safeguards obligations. Dozens of states have not yet approved an additional protocol, including Algeria, Egypt, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia, whose ambassador to Washington recently threatened that his country would build nuclear weapons if Iran does.

The NSG was formed in 1975 in response to India’s misuse of civilian nuclear assistance for its nuclear weapons program. Its guidelines are voluntary and designed to reinforce legal prohibitions in the NPT and elsewhere on the use of peaceful nuclear technology for military purposes.

The NSG’s policy is a commonsense precaution: Enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technology cannot be safeguarded against misuse for military purposes, and all NSG states are under a legal obligation not to assist other countries, directly or indirectly, in the production of nuclear weapons. Unlike the five original nuclear-armed states, India continues to produce nuclear bomb material and refuses to transform its nuclear test moratorium into a legally binding pledge by signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Not surprisingly, Indian politicians are complaining that the NSG’s latest decision detracts from the so-called clean waiver from NSG rules that the Bush administration rammed through the group in 2008.

U.S. officials have responded like candidates eager not to offend campaign contributors. U.S. Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer insisted June 30 that “the White House and the Obama administration strongly and vehemently support the clean waiver for India.”

In reality, the 2008 exemption for India was not clean and unconditional. The United States and other nuclear suppliers did not then and do not now intend to provide India with enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technology, but rather electricity production reactors and fuel. India remains in a special category, outside the nonproliferation mainstream.

The 2008 NSG decision specifically did not apply to enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technology transfers. The decision also notes that the exemption will be reconsidered and probably revoked if India conducts another nuclear explosive test or if it breaks any of its other nonproliferation pledges. In addition, the 2008 U.S. legislation that allows reactor and fuel sales to India includes a similar condition, which was strongly supported by then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), that makes it clear that the United States has the right to terminate all nuclear trade with India if New Delhi’s leaders resume nuclear explosive testing.

If the NSG allows India to become a member, as the Obama administration is now proposing, the group’s ability to hold India accountable would be severely undermined, compounding the damage created by the India-specific exemption. Furthermore, given that India already has made a commitment to meet NSG export guidelines, it is not clear whether or how Indian membership would strengthen the NSG.

The Indian nuclear deal has prompted Israel and Pakistan to lobby for similar exemptions, so far unsuccessfully. Pakistan has accelerated its efforts to increase its capacity to produce plutonium for weapons and has blocked negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty. China has announced it will sell Pakistan two additional nuclear power plants in violation of NSG rules.

Before considering membership options for India, NSG members should actively encourage India to curtail the production of fissile material, sign the CTBT, and freeze further development of long-range ballistic missiles that could carry nuclear weapons.

The 2008 India exemption was a strategic blunder that has complicated relations with India and damaged the nonproliferation effort. The NSG’s new policy on sensitive enrichment and reprocessing items is an important adjustment, but the effort to curtail proliferation and slow down nuclear weapons competition in Asia requires more principled and effective leadership from Washington, New Delhi, and other capitals.

After years of discussion, the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has agreed on a clearer, tougher set of guidelines designed to prevent the spread of uranium-enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing equipment and technology. The action should help guard against the further proliferation of sensitive equipment and technology that can be used to make fissile material for nuclear weapons.

NSG Revises Rules on Sensitive Exports

Body: 

The following is an early version of a story that appears in the July/August issue of Arms Control Today.

Originally posted June 27, 2011

Updated  July 5, 2011

Seven years after they started discussions on the issue and two and a half years after they formulated a “clean text,” the members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) agreed in June on revised guidelines for exports relating to uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing.

At issue were paragraphs 6 and 7 of the NSG guidelines. The old version of paragraph 6 said that suppliers should “exercise restraint” in exports of sensitive technology. The new paragraph 6 essentially retains that language, but specifies a list of criteria to be considered. The new paragraph 7, which deals with “[s]pecial arrangements for export of enrichment facilities, equipment and technology,” adds details on restrictions on sharing such technology.

A June 24 NSG press release issued at the end of the group’s annual plenary meeting in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, said only that the group had “agreed to strengthen its guidelines on the transfer of sensitive enrichment and reprocessing technologies.” The NSG did not release the text of the new guidelines, but a copy was obtained by Arms Control Today.

The NSG is not a formal organization, and its guidelines are not legally binding.

The main change from the previous guidelines is the addition of the list, known as “objective criteria.” Among other requirements, potential recipients of sensitive technology must be parties to and “in full compliance” with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), and they must be adhering to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards requirements.

Focus on Additional Protocol

In a separate section, the text says that suppliers should authorize enrichment and reprocessing exports only if the recipient has brought into force a comprehensive safeguards agreement and an additional protocol or, “pending this, [the recipient] is implementing appropriate safeguards agreements in cooperation with the IAEA, including a regional accounting and control arrangement for nuclear materials, as approved by the IAEA Board of Governors.” In a June 27 interview, a U.S. official said one significant aspect of the new guidelines is the reference to an additional protocol as a condition of supply.

The language on “a regional accounting and control arrangement” is a clear reference to the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC). Argentina and Brazil have not signed an additional protocol, which would give IAEA inspectors greater latitude to carry out their inspections in those countries, including the right to inspect any undeclared facilities. The NSG language would make Argentina and Brazil eligible to receive sensitive exports without having an additional protocol in force.

Since the appearance of the November 2008 “clean” draft text, critics have said the group’s concession on this point is a major flaw in the NSG’s approach because the ABACC arrangements do not provide the level of assurance about the countries’ nuclear programs that an additional protocol would.

In a June 30 interview, a Brazilian official said the Quadripartite Agreement among Argentina, Brazil, ABACC, and the IAEA furnishes a “more than sufficient guarantee” of the peaceful nature of the two countries’ nuclear programs. It “add[s] value” to INFCIRC/153, the standard safeguards agreement that the IAEA signs with NPT non-nuclear-weapon states, in part because it provides for the application of safeguards by ABACC as well as the IAEA, he said.

Compared to comprehensive safeguards agreements, it furnishes “an amount of information and mutual confidence that is superior,” he said. Additional protocols are not a legal requirement under the NPT or the IAEA, and that point has been recognized in all relevant forums, including the NSG, he said.

Brazil’s 2008 National Defense Strategy was “very clear” that the country would not adhere to new safeguards commitments until the nuclear-weapon states made significant progress toward fulfilling their disarmament obligations under Article VI of the NPT, he said.

Asked if the “pending this” language in the new guidelines suggested that the Quadripartite Agreement eventually would be supplemented by an additional protocol, the official said, “We do not see an obligation deriving from this [language].” Citing the NPT and IAEA resolutions, he said it is the “sovereign decision of any country” to conclude an additional protocol.

The U.S. official said the language “was a way of saying that the NSG would continue to review the situation with respect to the status of adherence to the additional protocol.”

‘General’ Subjective Criteria

The proposed November 2008 version of the NSG guidelines also included so-called subjective criteria: “[w]hether the recipient has a credible and coherent rationale for pursuing enrichment and reprocessing capability in support of civil nuclear power generation programmes,” “[w]hether the transfer would have a negative impact on the stability and security of the recipient state,” and “[g]eneral conditions of stability and security.”

The new text dispenses with that list. Instead, it invokes other sections of the guidelines that give suppliers broad authority to ensure that their exports do not contribute to proliferation. It also adds language saying that suppliers should “tak[e] into account at their national discretion, any relevant factors as may be applicable.”

The U.S. official said the section retains the concept of subjective criteria, but “has been written in a much more general manner.”

The guidelines also contain new language at the beginning of paragraph 7, saying in part, “All States that meet the criteria in paragraph 6 above are eligible for transfers of enrichment facilities, equipment and technology.”

According to the U.S. official, being “eligible” to receive enrichment and reprocessing exports does not equate to a “right” to receive them. A key point of the new guidelines is that “the suppliers as a group were concerned with more than a specific list,” he said.

However, in additional new language at the beginning of paragraph 7, the guidelines say that “[s]uppliers recognize that the application of the Special Arrangements [on enrichment-related exports] below must be consistent with NPT principles, in particular Article IV. Any application by the suppliers of the following Special Arrangements may not abrogate the rights of States meeting the criteria in paragraph 6.”

Article IV of the NPT establishes an “inalienable right” of treaty parties to pursue peaceful nuclear programs.

The section on enrichment-related transfers requires that they be under so-called black box conditions that seek to prevent the technology from being replicated. There is a limited exception to allow cooperation on development of potential new enrichment technologies, but the restrictions would apply once the technology was commercialized.

As the U.S. official noted, black-box requirements are now a global industry standard and are being applied to two enrichment plants in the United States. He said “enshrin[ing]” industry practice in the NSG guidelines is “a very useful thing to do.”

Effect on India

In September 2008, the NSG made an exception for India from the group’s general requirement for so-called full-scope safeguards, the requirement that recipients of exports open all their nuclear facilities to IAEA inspection. In the run-up to the announcement on the revised guidelines on enrichment and reprocessing, a key question was whether India would be exempted from the new restrictions as well.

Even before the NSG or the United States announced the agreement on the new guidelines, the U.S. Department of State’s press office issued a statement saying that the Obama administration “fully supports” the “clean” NSG exception for India and “speedy implementation” of the U.S.-Indian civil nuclear cooperation agreement, which Congress approved in 2008. “Nothing about the new Enrichment and Reprocessing (ENR) transfer restrictions agreed to by NSG members should be construed as detracting from the unique impact and importance of the U.S.-India agreement or our commitment to full civil nuclear cooperation,” the statement said.

Indian officials and observers often use the term “clean waiver” to suggest that the 2008 NSG decision lifted all the restrictions that previously had been in place on nuclear exports to India. However, the June 23 State Department press release said, “Efforts in the NSG to strengthen controls on the transfers of ENR are consistent with long-standing U.S. policy that pre-dates the Civil Nuclear Agreement and have been reaffirmed on an annual basis by the [Group of Eight industrialized countries] for years.”

The U.S. official said that NSG members had begun discussing a list of criteria for enrichment- and reprocessing-related exports in 2004 and, by the end of the year, had agreed that NPT membership should be a criterion. The plans for U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation were announced in July 2005. (See ACT, September 2005.)

The official also noted that the text of the 2008 NSG decision exempts India only from the section of the NSG guidelines dealing with the requirement for full-scope safeguards and specifically says that “transfers of sensitive exports remain subject to paragraphs 6 and 7.”

In a June 30 interview, a European diplomat agreed that, under the guidelines, India could not receive enrichment and reprocessing technology. India’s Ministry of External Affairs and its embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.

Indian Membership

According to the NSG press statement, the members also “continued to consider all aspects of the implementation of the 2008 Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India and discussed the NSG relationship with India.” Last November, President Barack Obama announced his support for Indian membership in the NSG and three other export control regimes. (See ACT, December 2010.)

India would be the first member of the NSG that is not a party to the NPT. A key criterion for membership in the group is that the country is a party to and complying with the NPT or a nuclear-weapon-free-zone treaty.

A confidential May 23 U.S.-drafted “Food for Thought” paper circulated to NSG members offers two options for bringing India into the group. One would be to revise the admission criteria “in a manner that would accurately describe India’s situation.” The other would be to “recognize” that the criteria, known as “Factors to Be Considered,” are not “mandatory criteria” and that a candidate for membership does not necessarily have to meet all of them.

At the Noordwijk meeting, the United States “did not ask anybody to take a decision,” the U.S. official said. There was “a good, solid discussion” with expressions of “views on both sides,” he said. According to the official, some delegates were “very concerned about the NPT issue.”

The United States invited additional comments, with a deadline of Sept. 1, he said. That would allow time to prepare for follow-up discussions on the sidelines of the IAEA general conference later that month and at the meeting of the NSG’s consultative group in October or November, he said. —DANIEL HORNER

 

Description: 

Seven years after they started discussions on the issue and two and a half years after they formulated a “clean text,” the members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) last week agreed on revised guidelines for exports relating to uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing.

Country Resources:

Subject Resources:

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - India