In a bid to promote civil nuclear trade with other countries, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has issued new guidelines that would allow a person (or entity) in India to do nuclear commerce directly with suppliers even if there are no formal bilateral agreements for nuclear cooperation with such trading countries. The notification, ‘Guidelines for Implementation of Arrangements for Cooperation Concerning Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy with Other Countries', was issued on June 4.

Since there already exist Guidelines for Nuclear Transfers (Exports), issued through a February 1, 2006 notification of the department, and as they would continue to hold as such, the present notification would have implications only for nuclear imports.

Indeed, by designating an officer of the DAE as the appropriate authority to grant approvals for imports as envisaged by Article 2(iii) of the Indo-U.S. civil nuclear cooperation agreement, the new notification fulfils a minor requirement of the deal with the U.S. Besides nuclear commerce under bilateral or multilateral agreements for civil nuclear cooperation that India has entered into or may enter into, these guidelines will allow any entity in India to import ‘scheduled items' (as detailed in Schedule-I of the notification) under authorisation by the DAE even if there is no civil nuclear cooperation agreement in place. The scheduled items include nuclear material, non-nuclear material, equipment, components, information and technology. Information here refers to information that is not in the public domain.

According to the guidelines, supply of any scheduled item from such country shall be based on ‘assurances' from the recipient of the supplies, which have to be agreed to by the government. Nuclear transfers to the importing entities will thus be in strict accordance with the relevant agreements and assurances. The agreements and assurances will inter alia include peaceful use, application of IAEA safeguards, provision of adequate physical protection, conditions for retransfer, confidentiality of information and intellectual property rights.

Based on the arrangement arrived at with the supplier, the entity intending to enter into a commercial deal, collaboration, cooperation or contract is required seek the aforesaid government authorisation from the DAE. While in the case of a cooperating country, the arrangement has to meet the conditions stipulated in the Cooperation Agreement, in the case of a trading country it has to be consistent with the assurances agreed to by the government.

Interestingly, the recipient need not be an Indian citizen or Indian company. Accordingly, the application form for seeking authorisation requires information about the citizenship of the applicant and the degree of control of the entity by any foreign person.

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