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"[Arms Control Today is] Absolutely essential reading for the upcoming Congressional budget debate on the 2018 #NPR and its specific recommendations ... well-informed, insightful, balanced, and filled with common sense."

– Frank Klotz
former Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration
March 7, 2018
India

Will No-Test Condition Sink India-Japan Nuclear Deal?

By Eric Auner As I reported in September, India and Japan have been discussing a potential civil nuclear deal. As a major supporter of the nonproliferation regime, Japan has suggested that it will attach a condition whereby cooperation would cease in the event of a future Indian test. As Global Security Newswire reports, India is unenthusiastic about such a condition: India has spurned suggested language in a nuclear trade agreement with Japan that would freeze the deal should the South Asian state carry out another atomic test blast, Kyodo News reported today (see GSN, Aug. 23). "I hear...

India Passes Nuclear Liability Bill

Eric Auner

The Indian parliament has approved a bill that sets up a mechanism to compensate victims and defines who is liable, and to what extent, in the case of a nuclear accident. The bill makes nuclear supplier firms, in addition to the nuclear facility operator, potentially liable for such an accident.

The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill passed the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament, Aug. 30 amid intense debate.

The bill seeks to enable the entry of private firms into the Indian civil nuclear market. Private nuclear firms typically require a legal cap on liability in order to insure themselves against accidents in a given country, and India previously lacked a regime that assigned legal liability. Government-owned firms, such as those in France and Russia, are covered by their respective governments and are not as dependent on a liability cap. U.S. nuclear suppliers are privately owned.

The U.S.-India Business Council in Washington released a statement Aug. 30, saying India should not channel liability to suppliers. “The absence of an effective, CSC [Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage]-compliant liability regime could preclude involvement by the private sector…and stymie India’s multi-year effort to develop civil nuclear power” the council said.

In 2005, President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced an approach to easing U.S. and international nuclear trade restrictions on India, which is not a party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and conducted nuclear test explosions in 1974 and 1998. In return for access to the global nuclear market, India agreed to place some of its nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the U.S. Congress approved the plan in 2008. (See ACT, October 2008.)

A critical part of the new approach to India was a nuclear cooperation agreement, signed in 2007, with the United States. In the United States, critics said the agreement and the new policy as a whole undermined the nonproliferation regime and U.S. law by providing benefits to an NPT nonsignatory without requiring sufficient nonproliferation and disarmament measures in return. Advocates said the pact would bring India into the nonproliferation “mainstream,” improve U.S.-Indian relations, and spur trade between the two countries, in part by giving U.S. firms access to the potentially lucrative Indian nuclear market.

Article 17(b) of the liability bill states that the operator of an Indian nuclear facility has a “right of recourse” from the “supplier of the material, equipment or services” in the event of a “nuclear incident” resulting from the supplier’s “willful act or gross negligence.” The government-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) currently is the only operator of nuclear power plants in India.

The Congress Party-led coalition government had attempted to change the supplier liability language so the right of recourse would only apply if there was “intent to cause nuclear damage” on the part of the supplier, but opposition complaints led to the removal of that language. International conventions governing nuclear liability, including the CSC, channel liability exclusively to the operator.

The Indian government is not party to any of those conventions. In a 2008 letter to U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said New Delhi intended to “adhere to” the CSC prior to commencing nuclear trade with the United States.

The liability bill also intends to “ensure clarity of liability and the requirement to pay compensation” to those who suffer physical or economic harm “caused by or arising out of a nuclear incident,” according to the “Statement of Objects and Reasons” attached to the text of the bill. In the event of such an incident, compensation is to be awarded by a specially appointed commissioner or by a central government commission in special cases. Article 46 clarifies that additional “proceeding[s]” may be brought against the operator of a nuclear facility under existing Indian law. This article potentially exposes the NPCIL to additional liability, and it is unclear how it would affect foreign suppliers.

There was a heated parliamentary debate on the legislation, including accusations that the bill was intended to shield U.S. corporations at the expense of Indian interests. The debate was influenced by the recent sentencing in India of eight Union Carbide executives who were involved with the 1984 Bhopal industrial accident in which 15,000 people were killed. The sentences were widely seen as lenient, and they drew political attention to U.S. companies involved in potentially hazardous activities in India.

In Aug. 25 remarks before the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, Singh argued that the bill “completes [India’s] journey to end nuclear apartheid, which the world had imposed on India.” The United States and others placed sanctions on India’s nuclear program following the county’s 1974 nuclear test. Singh referred to claims that the bill promoted U.S. interests as being “far from being the truth.”

Indian Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Srikumar Banerjee insisted that the bill is “India-centric” in an interview with India’s Frontline magazine. He also downplayed the possibility that the inclusion of Article 17(b) would discourage foreign suppliers. “I hope I will be able to convince [foreign suppliers] that this will not cause any difficulty” in conducting nuclear commerce with India, he said.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had been critical of the bill, with senior BJP member Jaswant Singh accusing the government of “hustling” the bill through parliament. The BJP initially complained that the bill was too lenient toward suppliers and that the liability cap for operators was too low. However, after the government made several changes to the bill, including a tripling of operator liability, the BJP supported the legislation. In a press release on the party’s Web site, senior BJP leaders accused the government of initially attempting to pass a “suppliers immunity law,” but expressed “satisfaction” with the changes.

 

The Indian parliament has approved a bill that sets up a mechanism to compensate victims and defines who is liable, and to what extent, in the case of a nuclear accident. The bill makes nuclear supplier firms, in addition to the nuclear facility operator, potentially liable for such an accident.

The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill passed the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament, Aug. 30 amid intense debate.

India, Japan Discuss Terms of Nuclear Trade

Eric Auner and Daniel Salisbury

India is pursuing a civil nuclear trade deal with Japan, which has said that cooperation depends on India not conducting any further nuclear test explosions.

On Aug. 21, India and Japan concluded the latest round of their strategic dialogue, which included discussions of civil nuclear cooperation. At a joint press conference with Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna that day in New Delhi, Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said that, in the event of a future Indian nuclear test, “Japan will have no option but to state that we shall suspend our cooperation.”

India also signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with Canada, and discussed nuclear cooperation with a high-profile British delegation.

India, which tested nuclear devices in 1974 and 1998, was barred from engaging in nuclear trade with Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) members until 2008. NSG guidelines ban nuclear trade with countries that are not parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and that do not place all their nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. India remains outside the NPT, but it obtained an NSG waiver in 2008 that allows it to conduct nuclear trade with the group’s members. (See ACT, October 2008.) India has placed some of its nuclear power reactors under safeguards.

Since the NSG decision, India has entered into nuclear cooperation agreements of various forms with a number of countries, including France, Russia, and the United States.

India and Japan formed a working group on nuclear energy in late April and engaged in two days of negotiations on the subject in late June. Talks on civil nuclear cooperation are taking place in the context of the “2+2” dialogue, which involves the foreign and defense ministers of both countries discussing a wide spectrum of economic and security issues

In addition to indicating that an Indian nuclear test would result in the suspension of a nuclear agreement, Okada urged India to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and make progress toward negotiating a fissile material cutoff treaty.

Many Japanese nonproliferation advocates have opposed nuclear cooperation with India. The mayor of Nagasaki, Tomihisa Taue, released a statement criticizing nuclear negotiations with India. “This means that a nation that has suffered atomic bombings itself is now severely weakening the NPT regime, which is beyond intolerable” he said Aug. 9 during a ceremony commemorating the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

A Japanese condition suspending nuclear cooperation in the event of an Indian test would be similar to a section of the 2006 Hyde Act, which amended U.S. law to allow nuclear trade with India. The Hyde Act opened the door to the U.S.-Indian cooperation agreement; that accord, signed in 2007 and approved by Congress in 2008, does not itself contain a requirement that India forswear future nuclear tests. The Indian government has traditionally defended its right to conduct future nuclear tests although it currently is observing a moratorium.

India and Canada signed their cooperation agreement at the end of the June Group of 20 summit in Toronto after bilateral meetings between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The agreement will allow Canadian firms to export nuclear material, equipment, and technology to India and will encourage cooperation in nuclear safety and waste management.

Canada has a long history of involvement with India’s nuclear program. It sold a CIRUS research reactor, as well as two CANDU power reactors, to India in the 1950s and 1960s. Spent fuel from the CIRUS reactor was later used to produce the fissile material for India’s 1974 nuclear test explosion. Canada cut off nuclear trade in the wake of the 1974 test, opening a long-lasting diplomatic rift between the two countries.

At a June 27 press conference, Singh sought to ease concerns that Canadian nuclear exports would be used for military purposes. “We have complete civilian control and there is no scope whatsoever for any nuclear material or equipment being supplied going for any unintended purpose,” he said, according to The Indian Express. “Nuclear material supplied to India will be fully safeguarded” under the terms of India’s agreement signed with the IAEA, he said. He added that India has a “fool-proof system of export controls.” Singh and Harper released a joint June 27 statement in which both expressed their commitment to “the ratification of the agreement and the completion of all remaining steps necessary to ensure its early implementation.”

When asked about the nonproliferation assurances received by the Canadian government and whether Canada would cease nuclear cooperation in the event of an Indian nuclear test, Laura Markle, a spokeswoman at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, said in an e-mail exchange last month that any use of Canadian materials or technology beyond “peaceful, civilian and non-explosive purposes” would “provide cause for the immediate suspension, and eventual termination of nuclear cooperation.”

The United Kingdom has been seeking greater participation in the Indian market as well. A high-profile British delegation, which included Prime Minister David Cameron, visited India in late July. While on the trip, Business Secretary Vince Cable said the countries already are cooperating on “a certain amount of modest research,” but want to move to “a higher level.” British companies “potentially could do a large amount of [nuclear] business in India,” he said. In February, India and the United Kingdom signed a Joint Declaration on Civil Nuclear Cooperation, in which the two governments expressed the desire “to promote extensive co-operation in nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”

 

India is pursuing a civil nuclear trade deal with Japan, which has said that cooperation depends on India not conducting any further nuclear test explosions.

The U.S.-Indian Deal and Its Impact

Sharon Squassoni

The decision five years ago by the United States to open up nuclear trade with India overturned decades of U.S. and global nonproliferation policy. Initially, it evoked only muted criticism from the nonproliferation community. Many U.S. and foreign experts hoped that the deal would fall through or that it could be salvaged by pressing India for nonproliferation concessions. Those hopes faded as the details and process of the agreement unfolded. Critics feared that global nonproliferation norms would be undermined by the extension of nuclear trade to India, a state that has tested nuclear weapons and never signed the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). They also feared that the deal could have the practical result of freeing up domestic uranium that India could use for its weapons program.

The Bush administration justified its actions by declaring that India would be brought into the “mainstream” of nonproliferation. Five years later, however, India’s nonproliferation behavior has neither improved nor worsened. Rather than India moving into the mainstream, the mainstream has moved to it. As the “nonproliferation ayatollahs” feared,[1] other states have begun to look at India’s example and ask, “If India, why not us?” India’s brand of exceptionalism matters less to these states than the possibility of exceptionalism, and a few are prepared to make their own case.

Past as Prologue

Thirty years ago, the United States cut off nuclear trade with India after that country tested a nuclear explosive device in 1974. India produced the plutonium for its test using materials and equipment it had obtained from Canada and the United States under a peaceful-use commitment. The United States responded by forming the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to avoid similar such incidents, and the U.S. Congress responded by enacting the 1978 Nuclear Nonproliferation Act (NNPA). The presumption of the NNPA was that piecemeal safeguards were not enough to prevent proliferation; only full-scope safeguards and therefore membership in the NPT could ensure peaceful uses. The NSG’s nonbinding set of guidelines for nuclear exports did not require full-scope safeguards as a condition of supply until much later. The adoption of this requirement in 1992 was hailed as a significant achievement.

At the time the NNPA was passed, the United States had been supplying fuel to India for the U.S.-built Tarapur reactors. Thereafter, the United States quietly facilitated supply by other countries. France provided fuel until the 1992 NSG decision, and China supplied fuel from 1994 until 2004, when it joined the NSG. Russia subsequently offered to provide fuel, but encountered U.S. objections. The first collateral damage of the U.S.-Indian deal came when Russia inked an agreement with India for Tarapur resupply just days before President George W. Bush arrived in New Delhi in 2006.

Anatomy of a Deal

Efforts to create a strategic partnership with India date back to the Clinton presidency although India’s 1998 nuclear tests temporarily halted them. Advocates of closer relations with India argued that expanding the partnership between the two countries was natural because the United States and India had so many common interests. For both sides, however, the nuclear issue got in the way. India, which craved legitimization of its nuclear weapons (“strategic”) program, insisted the United States had to lift restrictions on U.S. nuclear trade. U.S. policy, at least until the Bush administration, was that India had to freeze and roll back its nuclear weapons program.

Indian and U.S. strategic thinkers devised a way to resolve the nuclear proliferation tensions between the two countries: abandon restrictions on U.S. and global nuclear trade while asking for minimal nonproliferation commitments from India. Under the two countries’ July 18, 2005, joint statement, India committed to continuing its nuclear test moratorium, supporting U.S. efforts on a treaty to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, separating its civilian from military programs, and placing a portion of its facilities, but no uranium-enrichment or spent fuel reprocessing facilities and no material, under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

Congress Gets Involved

Because the NNPA was designed to preclude nuclear cooperation with states that were outside the NPT, India clearly did not meet all the requirements of the law and would thus have to be considered an exceptional case. The law allows for the president to make an exception to the nine requirements contained in Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act, but only with a determination that meeting those requirements would be “seriously prejudicial to the achievement of U.S. non-proliferation objectives or otherwise jeopardize the common defense and security.” The Bush administration clearly did not want to take this path, which also would have required Congress to pass a law to approve the agreement. (An agreement that meets all the requirements of the law has the presumption of passage; it can enter into force after 90 days of so-called continuous session unless Congress passes a law against it.)

The Bush administration sought legislation that would have had Congress approve nuclear cooperation with India even before an agreement had been finalized. The House responded by passing the Henry J. Hyde United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act, which the Senate adopted in December 2006. The act created the needed exception for India, but it also sought to clarify several of India’s commitments. In particular, some members of Congress, including then-Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.), were concerned that nuclear cooperation might continue if India tested nuclear weapons again, because of the inclusion of multiple assurances of fuel supply for India and because of New Delhi’s insistence on the right to take “corrective actions” in the event of fuel supply termination.[2] Under U.S. law, a nuclear test explosion by India could be grounds for breaking off nuclear cooperation.

Members of Congress were also concerned that the United States might seek to bypass the NSG and therefore made the U.S. agreement’s entry into force contingent on a decision by the NSG to permit supply. Unfortunately, this approach seemed to galvanize the Bush administration to push for rapid-fire completion of all the necessary steps: India’s safeguards agreement was hastily approved at a special IAEA meeting in August 2008, and the NSG exemption was handled just a few weeks later in two special sessions. According to some participants, the Bush administration exerted unprecedented political pressure at the NSG to clinch the deal, including phone calls from U.S. cabinet members to their foreign counterparts during negotiating sessions. With an NSG approval in hand, the Bush administration returned to Congress and, by October 1, got a winning vote. A key part of the administration’s argument was that it made no sense to hold back U.S. nuclear cooperation with India once the door to global cooperation had been unlocked,[3] and few members of Congress were inclined to disagree.

Fallout From the Deal

Creating an “exceptional” nonparty to the NPT has increased pressure across the nonproliferation regime. States have pushed the boundary between legally binding and voluntary commitments. NSG consensus has suffered dramatically, as China and Russia have exploited the political disarray for their own national benefit. Efforts to restrict enrichment and reprocessing may suffer, as some states insist on their “legal” rights. At the 2010 NPT Review Conference in May, the language in the action plan referring to states’ fuel cycle decisions called on treaty parties to “[r]espect each country’s choices and decisions in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear energy without jeopardizing its policies or international cooperation agreements and arrangements for peaceful uses of nuclear energy and its fuel cycle choices,” a swipe at efforts to get countries to forswear the acquisition of sensitive technology such as uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing.

NSG Consensus

Russia lost no time in restarting nuclear cooperation with India. Days before Bush arrived in New Delhi in 2006 to finalize India’s plan to place some of its facilities under safeguards, Russian officials informed the NSG that they would resupply fuel to India’s Tarapur reactors. At the time, the NSG had not yet considered an exception for India, so the Russian action violated the guidelines. Although it was clear that the Bush administration also would seek an NSG exemption for India, Russia’s action revealed the willingness of some suppliers to exploit potential gaps in the system.

In this context, China’s recent plan to build two more power reactors for Pakistan is not surprising.[4] China has always been a supplier of peaceful and not-so-peaceful nuclear technology to Pakistan. In joining the NSG in 2004, China announced its intention to continue some kinds of cooperation with Pakistan under the NSG’s grandfathering provision. This included lifetime support and fuel supply for the Chashma I and II nuclear power plants, supply of heavy water and operational safety services to the Karachi nuclear power plant, and supply of fuel and operational safety services to the two safeguarded research reactors at PINSTECH.[5] At the time, Chashma I was operating, and Chashma II construction had not yet begun. If China builds these two newest reactors, it will be a blatant violation of NSG guidelines. In April 2006, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice noted in answers to questions for the record from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that “[i]f China did seek to provide additional reactors to Pakistan, it would need NSG accommodation. The NSG operates by consensus, so China would need the support of all other participating governments to proceed. We do not believe that the 45 member states of the Nuclear Suppliers Group would agree to such an accommodation, and we do not support such an initiative with Pakistan.”[6]

Israel, too, has sought to exploit the gaps. Israel, which is not a party to the NPT but is an adherent to NSG guidelines, has been openly discussing initiating a nuclear power program in its country. Israeli officials circulated a nonpaper to the NSG in March 2007 that suggested criteria that would allow both India and Israel to be exempted from full-scope safeguards requirements.[7]

At the same time, the NSG has been struggling with revisions to its guidelines on enrichment- and reprocessing-related exports. As a coda to the India deal, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-Calif.) extracted a promise from Rice that the administration would move quickly to ensure an NSG decision on those revisions. In the draft language that the NSG has been considering, NPT membership is required for such transfers. India would thus be excluded from receiving such technology. Ironically, although Russia has since decided against such sensitive nuclear technology trade with India, France had already signed an agreement in September 2008 that would allow sensitive nuclear transfers.[8] In the interim, the Group of Eight’s 2004 policy of no new enrichment and reprocessing transfers was watered down in 2008 to allow for transfers if there is no replication of the technology.

Pakistan’s Reaction

From the start, Pakistan lodged objections to the U.S.-Indian deal, while asserting that it deserved the same deal. In March 2006, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement saying that “[t]he agreement represents an important relaxation of the NSG’s existing guidelines, and transfer of civilian nuclear technology from NSG members to non-NPT States. Pakistan has the same claim and expectation for international cooperation under safeguards for nuclear power generation, especially because Pakistan is a fossil fuel deficit country and has a significant and fully safeguarded nuclear power generation programme.” In the wake of the 2004 revelations about the Abdul Qadeer Khan black market nuclear network, however, the Bush administration was adamant about not pursuing a similar deal with Pakistan.

Pakistani officials have argued that the deal would free up India’s domestic uranium for weapons and that Pakistan would need to increase its own capability to produce fissile material. The National Command Authority declared in August 2007 that the agreement “would have implications on strategic stability as it would enable India to produce significant quantities of fissile material and nuclear weapons from un-safeguarded nuclear reactors.”[9]

Although Bush administration officials told Congress they would encourage India and Pakistan to exercise restraint in fissile material production, the deal seems to have accelerated Pakistan’s unsafeguarded uranium- and plutonium-production capability. Pakistan has been expanding its capabilities to produce plutonium in unsafeguarded production reactors (Khushab site) and reprocessing plants (PINSTECH site) and to process uranium (at the Dera Ghazi Khan site).[10] Finally, Pakistan’s perceptions of and concerns about the Indian civil nuclear deal also appear to have further degraded Islamabad’s willingness to engage in key nonproliferation and disarmament talks. Responding to a press question in 2009 about the prospects that Pakistan would follow suit if India joined the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman noted that “[o]bviously new realities have to be considered. I can tell you that at this point in time there is no consideration to sign the CTBT.”[11] Pakistan has also hardened its opposition to the start of fissile material production cutoff talks at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva. For more than a decade, Pakistan has complained that that a cutoff treaty must not lock in disparities in fissile material stocks.[12] The India deal has only underscored that fear.

Fuel Cycle, Cooperation Rights

Regardless of the outcome of NSG decisions on technology transfers, the India deal has affected countries’ expectations about their rights regarding fuel cycle decisions and nuclear cooperation. Although India is meant to be an exception, it is clearly seen as a pathbreaker of sorts. Until the India deal, the United States did not give programmatic consent, as opposed to case-by-case consent, for reprocessing U.S.-origin fuel unless a country already had an advanced nuclear program, including reprocessing and enrichment plants; did not pose a proliferation risk; was not located in regions of proliferation concern; and had excellent nonproliferation credentials. Until India, the United States had approved the reprocessing of U.S.-origin spent nuclear fuel only in Japan and EURATOM countries France and the United Kingdom. Additionally, the U.S.-Indian deal has left the door open to enrichment and reprocessing cooperation, subject to certain requirements (the facilities must be multilateral or part of a project to improve proliferation resistance) and approval of an amended agreement. Until now, the United States has only engaged in enrichment cooperation with one state (Australia), and in that case, the technology transfer was to the United States, not the other way around.

With the resurgence of interest in nuclear energy, many states are considering their options and the potential for cooperation with advanced nuclear states. South Korea, for example, is likely to request programmatic consent for reprocessing U.S.-origin spent fuel. Without an India deal, it might have asked for this anyway. With an India deal, it may be more successful. Now, South Korea also is interested in keeping its options open on uranium enrichment. One thing is certain: the India deal has shown states that the path to global acceptance of capabilities is through the United States.

2010 NPT Review Conference

During the 2010 NPT Review Conference, India’s special status was a significant irritant. The 118 members of the Nonaligned Movement (NAM) charged that the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal had given an NPT nonparty more benefits than NPT parties. This had two effects: NAM countries sought to restrict benefits to India by including language on the need for full-scope safeguards for nuclear supply, and they sought to widen their own possibilities for supply by including language on fuel cycle rights.

In the case of the first, the NAM argued that the review conference’s final document should reiterate a requirement for comprehensive safeguards for “existing or new” nuclear supply arrangements as well as a requirement to forswear the acquisition of nuclear weapons. U.S. officials could not accept language that would apply to India and argued against inclusion of the word “existing.”[13] The final president’s statement reaffirmed that “new supply arrangements” should require full-scope safeguards and “international legally-binding commitments not to acquire nuclear weapons.” The statement also calls on all parties to give “preferential treatment to the non-nuclear weapons States parties to the Treaty, taking the needs of developing countries, in particular, into account.”

In the case of the second effect, Action 47 of the final document, as noted earlier, urges all states to respect fuel cycle choices without jeopardizing international cooperation agreements.

Conclusion

The U.S.-Indian nuclear deal bestows privileges on India beyond what is normally given to states in good standing with their nonproliferation obligations. To lessen the negative impact of the deal, the global nonproliferation regime needs to return to more equitable approaches to restrictions on technology dissemination. From the supply side, the NSG needs to adopt meaningful restrictions on enrichment and reprocessing transfers that, at a minimum, do not allow any such cooperation with India and, more importantly, strongly limit the further dissemination of such capabilities. Cradle-to-grave fuel supply services could help provide incentives to countries not to acquire sensitive technologies, but they cannot prevent them. Above all, the regime needs to go beyond approaches that perpetuate dividing lines between the haves and the have-nots.

Instead, a single vision for a nuclear energy future that complements nonproliferation and disarmament objectives, rather than defeats them, is needed. Elements could include limitations on all states and legally binding commitments not to build national fissile material production capabilities. Approaches might include multinational fuel-cycle centers or an international nuclear fuel authority, as envisioned in the NNPA. Connecting fuel cycle restrictions to disarmament obligations, such as in a fissile material production cutoff treaty, could be helpful to win broader support.

These are ambitious goals, but small-scale revisions to the nonproliferation regime will not be able to repair the damage that the India deal has caused.


Sharon Squassoni is a senior fellow and director of the Proliferation Prevention Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. From 2002 to 2007, she was a senior specialist for weapons of mass destruction at the Congressional Research Service.


ENDNOTES

1. The term “nonproliferation ayatollah” was coined in the Indian press prior to the U.S.-Indian deal to describe U.S. and Western experts that were critical of India’s nuclear weapons program. It was used extensively during the debates from 2005 to 2008 to disparage nonproliferation experts opposed to the deal. See, for example, Kaushik Kapistalam, “The Reign of the Non-proliferation Ayatollahs,” Bharat Rakshak Monitor,Vol. 6, No. 5 (March-April 2004).

2. In a colloquy with Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) on November 16, 2006, Obama sought to clarify that, under the terms of the implementing legislation, “in the event of a future nuclear test by the Government of India, nuclear power reactor fuel and equipment sales, and nuclear technology cooperation would terminate.”

3. The closing line of a letter from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to support the House legislation (H.R. 7081) on October 1, 2008, stated, “You can also help ensure that U.S. industry—just like its international counterparts—is able to engage with India in civil nuclear trade.”

4. See Daniel Horner, “China, Pakistan Set Reactor Deal,” Arms Control Today, June 2010.

5. “Answers to Questions for the Record Submitted to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice by Senator Richard Lugar,” in Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation and U.S. Additional Protocol Implementation Act, S. Rpt. 109-288, p. 164.

6. Ibid.

7. David Siegel, a spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Washington, told The Washington Post in 2007 that “Israel, recognized to be a full-fledged adherent to the NSG guidelines, has urged the NSG to consider adopting a generic, multi-tiered, criteria-based approach towards nuclear technology transfers.” See Glenn Kessler, “Israel Submits Nuclear Trade Plan,” The Washington Post, September 30, 2007.

8. For text of the Indo-French deal, see www.dae.gov.in/sectt/indofrench.pdf.

9. See “Statement by the National Command Authority,” August 2, 2007, http://missions.itu.int/~pakistan/2005_Press_Releases/Disarmament/prnca_2aug07.htm.

10. See Paul Brannan, “Steam Emitted From Second Khushab Reactor Cooling Towers; Pakistan May Be Operating Second Reactor,” ISIS Reports, March 24, 2010; David Albright, Paul Brannan, and Robert Kelley, “Pakistan Expanding Dera Ghazi Khan Nuclear Site: Time for U.S. to Call for Limits,” ISIS Reports, May 19, 2009.

11. See www.mofa.gov.pk/Spokesperson/2009/June/Spokes_18_06_09.htm.

12. See “FMCT Resisted by Brazil, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, Group of 21,” Dawn, April 19, 2010.

13. Peter Crail, “NPT Parties Agree on Middle East Meeting,” Arms Control Today, June 2010.

 

The decision five years ago by the United States to open up nuclear trade with India overturned decades of U.S. and global nonproliferation policy. Initially, it evoked only muted criticism from the nonproliferation community. Many U.S. and foreign experts hoped that the deal would fall through or that it could be salvaged by pressing India for nonproliferation concessions. Those hopes faded as the details and process of the agreement unfolded. Critics feared that global nonproliferation norms would be undermined by the extension of nuclear trade to India, a state that has tested nuclear weapons and never signed the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). They also feared that the deal could have the practical result of freeing up domestic uranium that India could use for its weapons program.

India, U.S. Agree on Terms for Reprocessing

Daniel Horner

India and the United States in late March concluded negotiations on an agreement for the reprocessing of U.S.-origin spent nuclear fuel, removing one of the key remaining barriers to nuclear trade between the two countries.

The two countries issued similar statements March 29, with both characterizing the accord as “an important step” toward implementing their nuclear cooperation agreement, which was signed in July 2007 and entered into force in December 2008. Other hurdles, related to technology transfers and liability limits for companies building nuclear plants in India, still remain.

However, “of all the things that were left, [the reprocessing agreement is] the thing [the Indians] really wanted,” Ted Jones, director of policy advocacy for the U.S.-India Business Council, said in an April 7 interview.

The agreement covers spent fuel that comes from U.S.-supplied fresh fuel or was irradiated in a U.S.-supplied reactor. Such spent fuel is described as “U.S.-origin” or “U.S.-obligated.”

The March agreement is the latest step in a process that began with a joint July 2005 statement by President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laying out an approach to easing U.S. and international trade restrictions on India, which is not a party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and conducted nuclear test explosions in 1974 and 1998. In return for its renewed access to the world nuclear market, India agreed to place some of its power reactors under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. In separate actions in 2008, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which has more than 40 member countries, and the U.S. Congress approved the plan. (See ACT, October 2008.)

The 2007 U.S.-Indian pact, known as a 123 agreement, after the section of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act that requires the United States to negotiate such agreements before doing nuclear business with another country, partially deferred the question of reprocessing by providing for a separate set of talks that would establish the arrangements under which India could reprocess U.S.-obligated spent fuel.

Unlike most U.S. nuclear trading partners, India will not have to seek U.S. consent each time it wants to reprocess U.S.-obligated spent fuel. Instead, it has obtained a broad consent covering the 40-year duration of the 123 agreement.

According to accounts during the negotiations on the 123 agreement, India insisted on such a provision as an indication of its status as an advanced nuclear state. The section of the agreement that covers reprocessing begins by referring to “a commitment to full civil nuclear cooperation” that the two countries have with “other states with advanced nuclear technology.”

Under the 123 agreement, a prerequisite to the long-term consent is that India “establish a new national reprocessing facility dedicated to reprocessing safeguarded nuclear material under IAEA safeguards” and that the parties agree on “arrangements and procedures”—the document on which the two sides recently agreed.

According to sources who were following the negotiations on the reprocessing agreement, a major issue was whether India could have more than one such facility. The agreement says it can, stipulating that the reprocessing “may take place in India at two new national reprocessing facilities.” Sources said the Indians wanted that provision because the two sites designated for U.S. reactors are on opposite sides of the country, at the Mithi Virdi site in Gujarat and the Kovada site in Andhra Pradesh. They argued that having two sites would remove the need to transport spent fuel and plutonium across the country because each U.S. reactor complex would have a reprocessing facility to deal with the spent fuel generated at that site.

In an April 7 interview, a congressional source said that “there is an argument to be made for” allowing two facilities. However, he said, it should be noted that the 123 agreement had to be “redefined” because it refers to “a” reprocessing facility.

Fred McGoldrick, a former Department of State official responsible for negotiating 123 agreements, said the shift from one to two facilities was not a major issue in itself. “The big deal is giving them [long-term] consent in the first place,” he said April 6. The United States is giving a non-NPT country an advantage that Washington has not given to most NPT countries, he said.

He noted that the 123 agreements with Japan and the European Union are the only other ones that allow a country to reprocess spent fuel on its own territory; Switzerland has long-term U.S. consent to bring back plutonium from France and the United Kingdom, where Switzerland sent its spent fuel for reprocessing.

Japan, Switzerland, and the 27 members of the EU are parties to the NPT.

Suspension Conditions

Another contentious issue, the sources said, was the terms for suspending reprocessing. According to the March agreement, the “sole grounds” for seeking suspension are “exceptional circumstances limited to” a determination by either party that “continuance of reprocessing of U.S.-obligated material at the Facility would result in a serious threat to the Party’s national security” and a determination that “suspension is an unavoidable measure.”

The parties must “give special consideration to the importance for India of uninterrupted operation of nuclear reactors that provide nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and potential loss to the Indian economy and impact on energy security caused by a suspension,” the agreement says. If there is a suspension and it lasts more than six months, “both Parties shall enter into consultations on compensation for the adverse impact on the Indian economy due to disruption in electricity generation and loss on account of disruption of contractual obligations,” the pact says.

McGoldrick noted the provision requires consultations but does not compel a particular result from the consultations. In particular, it “does not create a U.S. obligation to compensate India,” he said.

The reprocessing agreement does not clearly spell out how its termination provisions relate to those in the 123 agreement. The two sets of termination provisions are “conflicting” and “deliberately made so,” the congressional source said. “Highly informed intelligent people give different opinions,” he said.

However, another observer pointed to a provision of the reprocessing agreement that says, “[I]n the case of any conflict between these Arrangements and Procedures and the Agreement for Cooperation, the terms of the Agreement for Cooperation shall prevail.” Also, he said, some of the questions may be more theoretical than practical. For example, the reprocessing agreement does not specifically say whether it could remain in force if the 123 agreement were suspended. However, the 123 agreement recognizes the right of the country suspending the agreement in response to a violation by the other to require the violator to return any material or other items that had been transferred. By exercising that right under the 123 agreement’s suspension provisions, the United States could halt Indian reprocessing of U.S.-obligated spent fuel, the observer said.

McGoldrick said that although the reprocessing agreement’s suspension criteria are framed narrowly, they leave the United States with some “wiggle room.” For example, he said, if India conducted a nuclear test explosion, the United States could suspend the consent for reprocessing on the grounds that the test raised questions about the intent of the reprocessing.

Under the Atomic Energy Act, conducting a nuclear test is grounds for terminating nuclear cooperation.

Supply of Sensitive Technology

It is not clear where India would acquire reprocessing equipment and technology if it sought foreign assistance for the reprocessing plant. A 2006 U.S. law known as the Hyde Act, which opened the door to nuclear trade with India but also applied certain nonproliferation conditions, generally bans U.S. exports of reprocessing and other sensitive technology to India. Last year, the Group of Eight (G-8) industrialized countries agreed to tighten its export rules and urged the NSG to break a long-standing stalemate on the issue. (See ACT, September 2009.) The new rules would spell out specific criteria that non-nuclear-weapon states would have to meet to be eligible for sensitive exports related to uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing. One of the criteria is that a recipient of such exports must be an NPT party.

France and Russia, which have active reprocessing industries and are in an intense competition with each other and U.S. companies for nuclear business in India, are members of the G-8 and the NSG.

The March reprocessing agreement is considered a “subsequent arrangement” under the U.S. Atomic Energy Act. Under that law, Congress has 15 days of so-called continuous session to review the arrangement, after which time it goes into effect unless Congress has passed a law blocking it. In the case of India, under a provision in the 2008 law approving the 123 agreement, the review period is 30 days. A U.S. official said in an April 27 e-mail that the departments of State and Energy were preparing the documents that need to be submitted to Congress to start the 30-day clock.

Other Obstacles

Still pending between India and the United States is an agreement to meet the requirements of the Hyde Act’s “nuclear export accountability program,” which requires detailed reporting on U.S. nuclear technology exports to India. Jones said India did not have a “model” for its private sector to provide the kinds of assurances that are required, but that the government is preparing regulations to do that.

Meanwhile, India’s ruling coalition in March postponed parliamentary consideration of a bill that would set limits on the liability of companies building nuclear plants in India. Liability protection is particularly important to U.S. companies, which, unlike their French and Russian competitors, are privately owned.

Jones said addressing Indian concerns about liability was likely to be more difficult than finding agreement on the technology-transfer question. Both those issues must be resolved before U.S. companies can complete reactor sales, but once the reprocessing agreement goes into effect, U.S. firms can sell fuel in India, he said.

India had made the reprocessing agreement a prerequisite for any U.S. sales.

 

India and the United States in late March concluded negotiations on an agreement for the reprocessing of U.S.-origin spent nuclear fuel, removing one of the key remaining barriers to nuclear trade between the two countries.

Indian-U.S. Nuclear Trade Still Faces Hurdles

Daniel Horner

More than a year after the Indian-U.S. nuclear cooperation agreement entered into force, multiple obstacles remain before U.S. companies can receive licenses for nuclear exports to India, documents and interviews indicate.

The countries have not yet agreed on a pact on Indian reprocessing of U.S.-origin material or worked out the arrangements for nuclear technology transfers from the United States to India. Nor has the Indian parliament approved nuclear liability legislation. Those issues have been publicly aired for months. (See ACT, October 2009.)

Another issue relates to a provision in a 2008 U.S. law dealing with the nuclear facilities that India opens to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) cannot issue licenses for nuclear trade with India until India meets the requirements of that provision. In a Jan. 8 e-mail to Arms Control Today, the Department of State said it had not yet determined that India met the requirements.

Placing some of its reactors under IAEA safeguards was a key part of a deal between India and the United States to ease U.S. and international nuclear trade restrictions on India, which is not a party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and conducted nuclear test explosions in 1974 and 1998.

In separate actions in 2008, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which has more than 40 member countries, and the U.S. Congress lifted restrictions that had been in place for three decades on nuclear trade with India. (See ACT, October 2008).

Currently, the only Indian reactors under safeguards are those that were or are being built with foreign assistance: two units apiece at Tarapur, Rajasthan, and Kudankulam.

As part of the nuclear deal, originally announced in a joint statement during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the United States in July 2005 and further elaborated in later statements, India was to place under safeguards 14 of the 22 power reactors that were in operation or under construction. That meant declaring eight reactors in addition to the six that were already under safeguards.

In a document submitted to parliament on May 11, 2006, the Indian government listed 14 reactors, in chronological order of when they would be “offered for safeguards.” The first six on the list are the ones already under safeguards.

The document is known as the “separation plan” because one of India’s commitments under the deal with the United States was to separate its military reactors from civilian ones and place the latter under safeguards. In addition to the reactors, the document lists a number of fuel cycle facilities to be placed under safeguards. The list includes six “upstream facilities,” which are facilities, such as fuel fabrication plants, that are part of the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle.

In submittals to the IAEA last October, India listed eight reactors—the six already under safeguards, plus two more units at Rajasthan—and the six upstream facilities. A Nov. 12 IAEA document summarizes the submittals.

Under the 2008 law, which approved the Indian-U.S. cooperation agreement that the Bush administration had negotiated, the NRC cannot issue the necessary licenses until India has given the IAEA a list of facilities that is “not materially inconsistent with” the separation plan.

In the Jan. 8 e-mail, the State Department said that “the NRC cannot currently issue licenses related to the US-India [nuclear cooperation] agreement. The matter is still pending.” The agreement entered into force in December 2008.

An Indian official said his government would offer facilities for safeguards in accordance with the separation plan and India’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA. The separation plans says India will declare the 14 reactors by 2014.

The question of the criteria for issuance of NRC licenses is a matter for the U.S. government and Congress to decide, the official said in a Jan. 12 interview.

Other Obstacles

India has said there will be no contracts with U.S. companies until the two countries have concluded the reprocessing agreement. Last November, there was a wave of expectation in some quarters that the agreement would be signed during Singh’s visit to the United States that month. Right after the visit, Indian officials publicly said they expected a signing in another week or two.

In a Jan. 6 interview, a former U.S. official said the differences between the two sides were down to “two or three items” and were “nothing fundamental.” It is a question of “finding formulations that both sides’ lawyers can live with” rather than “big philosophical questions,” he said.

The discussions over the technology transfers relate to the “nuclear export accountability program” laid out in the 2006 U.S. law known as the Hyde Act, which opened the door to U.S. nuclear trade with India but set a number of nonproliferation conditions. The provision on technology transfers requires more detailed reporting on them than U.S. law generally requires. (See ACT, September 2009.)

Although not mandated by U.S. law, nuclear liability legislation is important to U.S. companies that are in the running to build Indian reactors, the biggest potential prize in the Indian nuclear market. Such legislation would cap the companies’ liability if an accident occurred at one of their plants. The former U.S. official said the liability legislation could be introduced in the Indian parliament in the next two or three months.

At this point, none of the various obstacles are holding up business, he said. Although some accounts have suggested that contracts are imminent, he said he “wouldn’t take that at face value.”

 

 

More than a year after the Indian-U.S. nuclear cooperation agreement entered into force, multiple obstacles remain before U.S. companies can receive licenses for nuclear exports to India, documents and interviews indicate.

The countries have not yet agreed on a pact on Indian reprocessing of U.S.-origin material or worked out the arrangements for nuclear technology transfers from the United States to India. Nor has the Indian parliament approved nuclear liability legislation. Those issues have been publicly aired for months.

Indian Scientist Triggers Debate on Testing

Daniel Horner

A leading Indian nuclear scientist has said the yield from India’s 1998 test of a thermonuclear device was less than expected and that the country should not close off the option of further tests.

The comments, reported Aug. 27 by The Times of India, touched off a debate that has lasted for weeks.

The Times quoted K. Santhanam, who had direct responsibility for the series of 1998 nuclear tests as a top scientist with India’s Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), as saying, “Based upon the seismic measurements and expert opinion from [the] world over, it is clear that the yield in the thermonuclear device test was much lower than what was claimed. I think it is well documented and that is why I assert that India should not rush into signing” the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

In a subsequent interview with the Indian Web site Rediff.com, Santhanam was asked about the timing of his comments. He cited the change of U.S. administrations, saying that the Obama administration is “bound to further pressurise India to sign the CTBT.”Top Indian officials, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar, rejected Santhanam’s claims and said the 1998 test was successful, according to Indian media reports.

India, which is one of the 44 designated states that must ratify the CTBT to bring it into force, has not signed the treaty. Its current policy is to adhere to a declared moratorium on testing.

During a Sept. 21 media briefing in Washington, Tibor Tóth, executive secretary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, said it was “very encouraging” that the rebuttals to Santhanam were coming from within India and included people who were “even higher in the scientific echelon” than Santhanam at the time of the 1998 tests.

Among the officials arguing that the 1998 tests were a success was A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who was head of the DRDO at the time and later became president of India. In the Rediff.com interview, Santhanam dismissed Kalam’s comments, saying Kalam is a missile scientist and was not present at the test.

Responding to Santhanam in an interview with The Hindu, Indian National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan said, “As of now, we are steadfast in our commitment to the [nuclear testing] moratorium. At least there is no debate in the internal circles about this.” Asked about the prospects of joining the CTBT if other current nonparties, such as the United States and China, do so, Narayanan said India needed to “have a full-fledged discussion on the CTBT.”

Observers inside and outside India have said the country’s government would have to weigh the impact of a nuclear test on its nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States. Under U.S. law, an Indian test would halt such cooperation.

The agreement entered into force last year, but several unresolved issues have blocked nuclear trade between the two countries.

India has said there will be no contracts with U.S. companies until the two countries have concluded an agreement on reprocessing of U.S.-origin material. The first round of talks took place in July and went smoothly, according to two U.S. sources. The next round is scheduled for October 8-9, the sources said. The Department of State declined to confirm the dates.

One of the sources, who strongly supports the U.S.-Indian deal, said it is “possible, though perhaps unlikely” that the reprocessing agreement would be finalized before Singh comes to the United States for a scheduled state visit in late November.

Also still unresolved are terms for U.S. exports of nuclear technology. (See ACT, September 2009.) A 2006 U.S. law known as the Hyde Act creates a “nuclear export accountability program” that includes requirements for the tracking of U.S. nuclear exports to ensure that they do not boost India’s weapons program.

Agreeing on those arrangements has taken longer than it should have, the source said. There might have been some “miscommunication” that was not handled “expeditiously,” but the two sides are “definitely focused now” on resolving the issue, he said. U.S. industry officials are “just tearing their hair out” at the slow pace, he said.

At a Sept. 25 press briefing in New York, Robert Blake, assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, acknowledged that “there are still some steps that have to be taken” to “move forward” on nuclear cooperation. They include passage of nuclear liability legislation by the Indian parliament and the formal announcement of sites at which U.S. companies would build groups of reactors, Blake said.

 

A leading Indian nuclear scientist has said the yield from India’s 1998 test of a thermonuclear device was less than expected and that the country should not close off the option of further tests.

The comments, reported Aug. 27 by The Times of India, touched off a debate that has lasted for weeks.

India, U.S. Agree on Defense Trade Monitoring

Jeff Abramson and Daniel Horner

India and the United States have agreed on an end-use monitoring arrangement that will make it easier for India to acquire advanced U.S. defense equipment, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna announced at a joint press appearance with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in New Delhi July 20.

The pact “will boost India’s ability to defend itself through the acquisition of U.S. defense equipment while promoting American high tech exports,” according to a Department of State summary of the trip. Few details about the deal were released. A State Department official said in an Aug. 28 e-mail that the end-use monitoring text has been finalized, but is not publicly available.

The agreement is significant in part because India currently is seeking 126 fighter jets to update its air force, a contract that could be worth more than $10 billion. Major U.S. defense contractors Boeing and Lockheed Martin are part of an international competition for the contract.

The possibility of broad U.S. access to sensitive Indian defense sites was controversial in India. Typical U.S. end-use monitoring agreements place a number of limitations on recipients of U.S. defense articles, including provisions for on-site inspection by U.S. officials and prohibitions on the retransfer of the equipment.

Shortly after the July 20 announcement, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh defended the agreement, telling Parliament that Indian sovereignty was not compromised and that the agreement did not allow “unilateral” U.S. inspections. According to Indian press reports citing unnamed government officials, the two countries reworked the on-site inspection system. Although U.S. inspectors will be allowed to inspect equipment purchased or transferred from the United States, the inspections will be prescheduled and occur at locations of India’s choice, the reports said. If the equipment is being used, there are provisions for rescheduling the inspection, according to the reports. The State Department official did not confirm this information but instead indicated that some of the details are still being determined.

Monitoring Nuclear Exports

Export monitoring also has been an issue in proposed nuclear cooperation between the United States and India. Last year, the United States and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which includes the United States, lifted long-standing restrictions on nuclear exports to India. (See ACT, October 2008.) In return, India agreed to take certain steps with regard to its nuclear program, including opening some of its currently unsafeguarded nuclear reactors to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Under U.S. law and NSG guidelines, countries generally are not eligible to receive major nuclear exports if they are not parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Congress in 2006 passed legislation opening the door to renewed nuclear trade with India. The legislation, known as the Hyde Act, also contained several nonproliferation provisions, including one creating a “nuclear export accountability program.” In the congressional debate over the Hyde Act, a key concern was to ensure that U.S. nuclear exports would not boost India’s weapons program.

The export accountability provision requires detailed reporting on the use of U.S. nuclear technology exports to India. An official from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which oversees such exports, said earlier this year that the Hyde Act establishes a process that goes beyond the tracking requirements for similar U.S. exports to other countries.

A January trip report by a nuclear industry delegation that had traveled to India cited the monitoring requirement as one of several obstacles to U.S. nuclear trade. An NNSA spokesperson said in Aug. 24 e-mail that she had “no updates” on efforts to resolve the issue.

India and the United States have agreed on an end-use monitoring arrangement that will make it easier for India to acquire advanced U.S. defense equipment, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna announced at a joint press appearance with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in New Delhi July 20. (Continue)

India Launches First Nuclear Submarine

Peter Crail and Eben Lindsey

India launched its first nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine July 26, paving the way for initiating the third leg of its planned nuclear “triad.” The vessel, named the Arihant (Destroyer of Enemies) is the first nuclear-powered submarine of any type that India has developed and constitutes the first undersea-based component of New Delhi’s nuclear delivery capabilities. India is only the sixth country to develop a nuclear-powered submarine after the United States, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and China.

India’s nuclear arsenal consists of up to 100 nuclear weapons, which can be delivered using aircraft and surface-based ballistic and cruise missiles. Placing such weapons aboard nuclear submarines, which can remain under water undetected for extended periods of time, is generally seen as the most effective way to protect them from attack and assure they can be used in response.

When asked by India’s NDTV August 3 if the Arihant would provide New Delhi with a “second strike” capability, Anil Kakodkar, chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), said, “[T]hat is the purpose of such a platform.”

India’s 1999 draft nuclear doctrine established a no-first-use policy of “retaliation only” and added that “the survivability of the arsenal is critical.” (See ACT, July/August 1999.)

Bharat Karnad, a member of the drafting group responsible for that document, has suggested that Indian ballistic missile submarines may have a more expansive role. In an Aug. 12 e-mail, he said such vessels would not only serve as a “survivable passive deterrent,” but also “for active deterrence and even preemption.”

Such submarines “are conceived as the cutting edge in a deterrent confrontation with China,” in the context of a long-term aim for “notional parity” with China in the quality and size of India’s nuclear arsenal, he said.

Indian officials, however, have been wary of publicly making a connection between India’s and China’s strategic capabilities. During an Aug. 11 speech on national security challenges, Chief of Naval Staff Adm. Sureesh Mehta stated, “[W]e have neither the capability nor the intention to match China, force for force,” in military capabilities.

Speaking at the July 26 launch ceremony, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh emphasized that the launch was not intended as an aggressive act. India does not have “any aggressive designs, nor do we seek to threaten anyone,” he said. Outlining the rationale behind the vessel’s development, he said, “[I]t is incumbent upon us to take all measures necessary to safeguard our country and to keep pace with technological advancements worldwide.”

Pakistan did not appear to be convinced by Singh’s assurances. In a statement issued the day after the launch, Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Abdul Basit said that the introduction of new weapon systems into the region by India was detrimental to regional peace and security. “Pakistan will take appropriate steps to safeguard its security without entering an arms race,” he added.

Pakistan does not have a nuclear submarine but maintains a small fleet of diesel-electric attack submarines.

The launch of the 367-foot, 6,000-ton Arihant follows more than two decades of development under the secret Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV) program, which New Delhi publicly revealed in 2007.

Beginning in the late 1980s, India received Russian assistance for that project, including the lease of a Charlie II-class nuclear submarine. Indian technicians maintain that Russia provided only consultation and that the miniature reactor technology key to the submarine’s development was homegrown. India’s Frontline magazine quoted former AEC Chairman M.R. Srinivasan in August as saying, “The naval personnel had some assistance from Russia in designing the submarine, but the reactor is a totally Indian effort.”

In spite of the public launch of the Arihant, key systems are not operational. In particular, the vessel is not equipped with its reactor. Noting the amount of work yet to be done to prepare the submarine for safe operation, former Chief of Naval Staff Adm. Arun Prakash told the Times of India July 26, “The big day will however come when the nuclear reactor attains criticality.”

Additionally, India has not yet completed development of the nuclear-capable missiles the Arihant-class vessels are intended to carry or the vertical launch tube system in the submarine itself. In a July 30 op-ed in the Indian daily Business Standard, retired Vice Adm. Premvir Das, former commander-in-chief of India’s Eastern Naval Command, said that the underwater launch system will not be operational “any time soon.”

“For the present, a few years are needed to prove the platform and its systems, first on the surface in harbor, then on the surface at sea, and finally, under water, progressively at increasing depths,” Das added.

Explaining the reason for launching the vessel without such systems, Karnad said, “the idea is to have these critical systems get on stream around the time the harbor trials and initial sea trials validate the basic design, buoyancy aspect, working of the diving planes, etc., so that induction into the fleet can follow soon thereafter.”

The missile system currently being developed for the submarine is reportedly a ballistic missile called the K-15 with a range of about 700 kilometers. India Today quoted retired Rear Adm. Raja Menon in January 2008 as stating that “one submarine carries at least 12 missiles with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles, which could mean as many as 96 warheads.”

According to Indian press reports, while the Arihant undergoes sea trials, its crews will train aboard the Akula II-class nuclear-powered attack submarine Nerpa, which Russia is expected to lease to India before the end of the year.

New Delhi is reportedly planning to produce two more nuclear submarines for the Indian navy using the ATV design.

India launched its first nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine July 26, paving the way for initiating the third leg of its planned nuclear “triad.” The vessel, named the Arihant (Destroyer of Enemies) is the first nuclear-powered submarine of any type that India has developed and constitutes the first undersea-based component of New Delhi’s nuclear delivery capabilities. India is only the sixth country to develop a nuclear-powered submarine after the United States, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and China. (Continue)

Toward a Nuclear Freeze in South Asia

Daryl G. Kimball

Ten years ago this month, tens of thousands of Indian and Pakistani soldiers faced off in a confrontation over the disputed Kashmir region. If not for intensive U.S.-led crisis diplomacy, that standoff and another in 2002 could have led to war between the two nuclear-armed rivals.

Since then, Indian and Pakistani nuclear and missile stockpiles have grown even larger, and the underlying conditions for conflict still persist. Indian military planners foolishly believe they can engage in and win a limited conventional conflict without triggering a nuclear exchange even though the Pakistani army's strategy relies on nuclear weapons to offset India's overwhelming conventional superiority.

Unfortunately, U.S. policymakers downplayed regional nonproliferation and risk-reduction priorities in the pursuit of other objectives. Beginning with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's visit to India this month, the United States should help to re-establish nuclear restraint and arms control as a top priority for the region.

Despite its struggle against extremists inside its own borders, the Pakistani army sees India as its main adversary. Pakistan is expanding its uranium-enrichment capabilities and building two new plutonium-production reactors for weapons purposes even though it already possesses enough fissile material for 60-80 bombs.

One excuse for Pakistan's ongoing buildup is the U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation initiative. Approved last year, the deal exempts New Delhi from long-standing restrictions on civil nuclear trade in exchange for India's promise to refrain from nuclear testing and support a global ban on fissile material production for weapons, among other nonproliferation commitments. The deal gives India access to global nuclear fuel markets, freeing up its limited domestic uranium supplies for use exclusively in weapons production. India has enough fissile material for well more than 100 bombs.

India and Pakistan each claim to want only a "minimal credible deterrent," but the end of their nuclear and missile buildup is not in sight. Indian and Pakistani support for negotiations on a global fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) is weak at best.

Ambassador Nirupama Rao said May 29 that New Delhi would allow multilateral talks to begin but would "not accept obligations" that hinder India's "strategic program" or research and development or those that "place an undue burden on our military nonproscribed activities." That, of course, is the very purpose of an FMCT.

Nor have the two states moved closer to a legally binding test ban since Washington persuaded them to declare testing moratoria in 1999. In recent months, Pakistani and Indian officials have said they have no plans to join the United States and China as signatories to the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Given the billions of dollars of U.S. military aid flowing into Pakistan and India's commitments made in the context of the nuclear cooperation deal, the Obama administration can and should use its leverage to put the brakes on their nuclear arms race. As Clinton suggested in a June 20 speech, the nuclear deal "can and should also serve as the foundation of a productive partnership on nonproliferation."

For his part, Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said June 3 that India would "welcome real action toward nuclear disarmament" and "will work with our partners internationally towards that objective." Now that President Barack Obama has jump-started global disarmament efforts and pledged to engage other states in the effort, India and Pakistan must do their part by embracing rather than rejecting commonsense nuclear arms control strategies.

A good starting point would be for India to invite Pakistan and China to halt fissile production for weapons pending the conclusion of a global FMCT. India, which has more than enough separated fissile material to maintain a large nuclear deterrent force, would win wide international acclaim for the proposal and remove the rationale for Pakistan's fissile buildup.

The Obama administration can nudge New Delhi along by strictly adhering to a key provision of the implementing legislation for the nuclear cooperation deal. That provision requires a report to Congress by the end of this year and each year thereafter that assesses whether India has or has not increased unsafeguarded fissile material production.

Clinton should not hesitate to put the CTBT back on the U.S.-Indian bilateral agenda. She should urge her Indian counterparts to reiterate Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's 1998 commitment that India would not be among the last states standing in the way of the treaty's entry into force.

New Delhi is clearly not yet ready to sign the CTBT, but it is not in its strategic interests to resume nuclear testing. As then-Sen. Obama (D-Ill.) said on the floor of the Senate on November 16, 2006, "[I]n the event of a future nuclear test by the Government of India, nuclear power reactor fuel and equipment sales, and nuclear technology cooperation would terminate."

It may be difficult for the Obama team to nudge India and Pakistan toward greater nuclear restraint, but failure to bring about change risks the most severe nuclear proliferation consequences in the years ahead.

 

Ten years ago this month, tens of thousands of Indian and Pakistani soldiers faced off in a confrontation over the disputed Kashmir region. If not for intensive U.S.-led crisis diplomacy, that standoff and another in 2002 could have led to war between the two nuclear-armed rivals.

Since then, Indian and Pakistani nuclear and missile stockpiles have grown even larger, and the underlying conditions for conflict still persist. Indian military planners foolishly believe they can engage in and win a limited conventional conflict without triggering a nuclear exchange even though the Pakistani army's strategy relies on nuclear weapons to offset India's overwhelming conventional superiority. (Continue)

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