Siddharth Varadarajan

Statement lays emphasis on “concomitant arrangements”

“India would retain the right till the end before putting any of its reactors under safeguards”

IAEA would have no locus standi on unsafeguarded nuclear material

New Delhi: India will not place any reactor under international safeguards pursuant to its nuclear deal with the United States until it has determined “that all conditions conducive to the objectives of the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement and concomitant arrangements have been fulfilled,” the Government has said.

“Key understandings”

This important assurance forms part of an official note issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) following a meeting between National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan and leaders of the Samajwadi Party on the India-U.S. nuclear deal.

Though no specific details were provided of the draft safeguards agreement between India and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the PMO’s note said the salient features of the draft “reflect the key understandings [between India and the United States] relating to fuel supply assurances, strategic fuel reserves and corrective measures.”

The note stresses that “provisions have been included that make it clear that India is offering its civilian nuclear facilities voluntarily for safeguards and keeping in view these assurances.”

Depending on the specific language used to tie down these provisions, the draft agreement appears to link the continuity of safeguards to the continuity of these assurances, in much the same way as the March 2006 separation plan linked the perpetuity of safeguards on civilian reactors to the perpetuity of fuel supplies for them.

The PMO statement added, “Most importantly, the Agreement provides for the filing of a declaration [regarding India’s civilian facilities with the IAEA] based on its sovereign decision, and only when India determines that all conditions conducive to the objectives of the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement and concomitant arrangements have been fulfilled.”

This provision, the PMO says, “ensures that India would retain the right till the very end before putting any of its reactors under safeguards.” Though the statement does not clarify this, “concomitant arrangements” is a reference to fuel supply arrangements as well as, perhaps, the yet-to-be-negotiated agreement with the U.S. on the specifics of reprocessing.

Another “major principle” of the Safeguards Agreement highlighted by the PMO is that “the IAEA shall implement safeguards in a manner that do not hinder or otherwise interfere with any activity involving the use by India of nuclear material or technology developed by India independent of this Agreement for its own purposes.”

This principle essentially reiterates the fact that the IAEA would have no locus standi in regard to unsafeguarded nuclear material and facilities in India and amounts to acknowledging, in an IAEA document, the reality of India’s strategic nuclear programme.

More In: NEW DELHI | NATIONAL