People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Vol. XXX

No. 35

August 27, 2006

PM’s Clarifications On Nuclear Deal


CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury while participating in the short duration discussion on Indo-US Nuclear Deal in Rajya Sabha on August 17, 2006 raised nine important departures from the July 18 Agreement and sought clarification. 


Below we give the nine issues raised and the point by point clarifications given by prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh.]


1. Whether the deal will give “full” civilian nuclear technology and lift all existing sanctions on dual use technology imposed on India for not signing the NPT.


Response: The objective of full civil nuclear cooperation is enshrined in the July Statement. This objective can be realized when current restrictions on nuclear trade with India are fully lifted. In accordance with the July Statement, US has initiated steps to amend its legislation and to approach the NSG to adapt its guidelines. We seek the removal of restrictions on all aspects of cooperation and technology transfers pertaining to civil nuclear energy – ranging from supply of nuclear fuel, nuclear reactors, reprocessing spent fuel, i.e., all aspects of complete nuclear fuel supply. Only such cooperation would be in keeping with the July Joint Statement.


2. Cannot accept restrictions on Indian foreign policy to be imposed such as on Iran, irrespective of whether it is in the policy section or in the sense of the House section of the legislation.


Response: Government is clear that our commitments are only those that are contained in the July Joint Statement and in the Separation Plan. We cannot accept introduction of extraneous issues on foreign policy. Any prescriptive suggestions in this regard are not acceptable to us. 


Our foreign policy is and will be solely determined by our national interests. No legislation enacted in a foreign country can take away from us this sovereign right. 


3. Signing of IAEA safeguards in perpetuity for the civilian programme to take place after the US Congress had approved a “123 Nuclear Cooperation Agreement”. All restrictions on India to be lifted before we sign the IAEA safeguards. 


Response: I had conveyed to Parliament on July 29, 2005 on my return from Washington that before placing any of our nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards, we will ensure all restrictions on India have been lifted. Under the Separation Plan agreed to with the United States, India has offered to place under IAEA safeguards 14 of its reactors presently operating or under constructions between 2006 and 2014. The nuclear facilities listed in the Separation Plan will be offered for safeguards only after all nuclear restrictions have been lifted on India. This would include suitable amendments to the US legislation to allow for such cooperation, the passing of the bilateral agreement with India and the adaption of the NSG guidelines. It is clear that India cannot be expected to take safeguards obligations on its nuclear facilities in anticipation of future lifting of restrictions.


4. Guarantees on fuel as agreed in the March 2006 statement. In case the US reneges on supply of fuel, they will ensure continuity through other members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).


Response: Separation Plan includes elaborate fuel supply assurances given by the United States. Understandings in the Separation Plan also provide for contingency of disruption of fuel supplies to India. In such a case, the United States and India would jointly convene a group of friendly supplier countries (Russia, France and United Kingdom) aimed at restoring fuel supplies to India. An important assurance is the commitment of support for India’s right to build strategic reserves of fuel over the life time of its nuclear reactors. In the event of disruption of fuel supplies despite the assurances, India will have a right to take corrective measure to ensure the operation of its nuclear reactors.


5. India will work for an FMCT and for nuclear disarmament with all nuclear weapon states, in line with the Rajiv Gandhi Plan or Delhi Declaration in tandem.


Response: Our support for global nuclear disarmament remains unwaivering. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had put forward an Action Plan in the 1988 UNGA Special Session on Disarmament. We remain committed to the central goal of this Action Plan, i.e., complete elimination of nuclear weapons leading to global nuclear disarmament in a time-bound framework. India has agreed to negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva for a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. There has been no change in our position on this matter.


6. In the original deal, there is no provision for US inspectors, only provision for IAEA inspectors. The draft US Bills contains such provisions.


Response: In the Separation Plan, we have agreed to offer for IAEA safeguards nuclear facilities specified in the Separation Plan for that purpose. The nature of safeguards will be determined by an India specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA. This will be applied to the safeguarded nuclear facilities in India. Therefore, there is no question of accepting other verification measures or third country inspectors to visit our nuclear facilities, outside the framework of the India specific safeguards agreement.


7. An India-specific protocol and not an Additional Protocol as per IAEA Standard Modified Protocol.


Response: In the Separation Plan, we have agreed to conclude an India specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA. The question of an Additional Protocol will arise only after the India specific safeguards agreement is in place. As a country with nuclear weapons, there is no question of India agreeing to a Safeguards agreement or an Additional Protocol applicable to non-nuclear weapon states of the NPT.


8. References to Iran in the House Bill.


Response: We reject the linkage of any extraneous issue to the nuclear understanding. India’s foreign policy will be decided on the basis of Indian national interests only.


9. Reference to Proliferation Security Initiative in the House and Senate Bills.


Response: The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) is an extraneous issue as it is outside the framework of the July 18 Joint Statement. Therefore, we cannot accept it as a condition for implementing the July Statement. Separately, the Government has examined the PSI. We have certain concerns regarding its legal implications and its linkages with the NPT. We also have concerns with amendments to the suppression of Unlawful Activities at Sea Treaty under the International Maritime Organisation.