The nuclear legacy trap: risk and costs of nuclear power - Major-General Vinod Saighal | To date, sufficient thought does not seem to have been given to the legacy factor of nuclear reactors being built. The post...
Written By Gopal Krishna on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 | 6:33 AM
On 9th July 2008, the IAEA Secretariat circulated the draft of an Agreement with the Government of India for the Application of Safeguards to Civilian Nuclear Facilities to Members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors for their consideration. This was done at the request of the Government of India.
The Chairman of the Board is consulting with Board Members to agree on a date for a Board meeting when the Agreement would be considered.
About the IAEA
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) serves as the world's foremost intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical co-operation in the peaceful use of nuclear technology. Established as an autonomous organization under the United Nations (UN) in 1957, the IAEA carries out programmes to maximize the useful contribution of nuclear technology to society while verifying its peaceful use.
Dr Manmohan SIngh's statement in the Lok Sabha on Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation with the United States
August 13, 2007
Excerpts of the Prime Minister's statement - this is a preliminary transcript that is yet to be corrected and matched with the official transcription from the Lok Sabha.
I rise to inform this august House that the Government of India has reached agreement with the Government of the United States of America on the text of the bilateral Agreement on Cooperation for Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy.
2. This Government has kept Parliament fully in the picture at various stages of our negotiations with the United States. We have never shied away from a full discussion in Parliament on this important issue. I have myself made statements on several previous occasions – on July 29, 2005 soon after my return from Washington; on February 27, 2006 during which I took Parliament into confidence regarding our ongoing discussions with the United States on the Separation Plan; and on March 7, 2006 following the visit of President Bush to India. I also made a detailed statement in the Rajya Sabha on August 17, 2006 conveying certain solemn commitments to which I shall return shortly.
Our Government has adhered scrupulously to Parliamentary traditions and practices. We have in fact gone far beyond any previous Government.
3. After the conclusion of the Agreement we have also briefed many of the parties represented in Parliament on the details of the Agreement.
4. The Agreement is about civil nuclear energy cooperation. It is an Agreement between two States possessing advanced nuclear technologies, both parties having the same benefits and advantages. The significance of the Agreement lies in the fact that when brought into effect, it will open the way for full civil nuclear energy cooperation between India and the United States. We have negotiated this Agreement as an equal partner, precisely because of the achievements of our scientists and technologists in overcoming the barriers placed around us in the past. This is an Agreement based on the principle of mutual benefit.
5. There has been considerable public debate and discussion on various aspects of the Agreement. On August 17, 2006, I had given a solemn commitment to Parliament and to the country regarding what we can agree and cannot agree with the United States to enable civil nuclear energy cooperation with India. I had stressed that it must be within specific parameters, which I had shared with Parliament. This was an unprecedented measure of transparency on our part even in the midst of complex negotiations.
6. I had given Parliament my assurance that the Government will make every effort so that the vision of the Joint Statements of July, 2005 and March, 2006 becomes a living reality. I believe that we have redeemed that pledge. In concluding this Agreement, we have ensured that the autonomy of our strategic programme is fully maintained, and that Dr. Homi Bhabha’s long-term vision remains our guiding principle.
7. With your permission, I wish to draw the attention of this august House to the main features of the Agreement in some detail. It would become evident that the commitments I had made to Parliament, including those on August 17, 2006, have been fully adhered to.
(i) Full Civil Nuclear Cooperation
Ø The concept of full civil nuclear cooperation has been clearly enshrined in this Agreement. The Agreement stipulates that uch cooperation will include nuclear reactors and aspects of the associated nuclear fuel cycle, including technology transfer on industrial or commercial scale. It would also include development of a strategic reserve of nuclear fuel to guard against any disruption of supply over the lifetime of our reactors.
Ø A significant aspect of the Agreement is our right to reprocess US origin spent fuel. This has been secured upfront. We view our right to reprocess as a key element of a closed fuel cycle, which will enable us to make full use in our national facilities of the energy potential of the nuclear fuel used in our reactors. This important yardstick has been met by the permanent consent for India to reprocess.
Ø India will establish a new national reprocessing facility dedicated to reprocessing foreign nuclear material under IAEA safeguards. India and the US will mutually agree on arrangements and procedures under which such reprocessing will take place in the new facility. Consultations on arrangements and procedures will begin within six months of a request by either party and will be concluded within one year. There is no ambiguity with regard to the commitments of both countries.
Ø Any special fissionable material that may be separated may be utilized in national facilities under IAEA safeguards. Thus the interests of our three stage nuclear programme have been protected.
Ø The United States has a longstanding policy of not supplying to any country enrichment, reprocessing and heavy water production facilities. This Agreement provides for such transfers to India only through an amendment. Forward- looking language has been included for dual use transfers of enrichment, reprocessing and heavy water production facilities. We hope transfers will become possible as cooperation develops and expands in the future. It is important to note that no prohibition that is specifically directed against India has been included in the Agreement.
(ii) The Principle of Reciprocity:
Ø The principle of reciprocity, which was integral to the July 2005 Statement, has been fully safeguarded in this Agreement. There is no change in our position that we would accept only IAEA safeguards on our civilian nuclear facilities. This would also be in a phased manner and as identified for that purpose in the Separation Plan, and only when all international restrictions on nuclear trade with India have been lifted. India will not take any irreversible steps with the IAEA prior to this.
Ø This Agreement emphasizes the desire of both countries to cooperate extensively in the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes as a means of achieving energy security on a stable, reliable and predictable basis. This Agreement further confirms that US cooperation with India is a permanent one.
There is no provision that states that US cooperation with India will be subject to an annual certification process.
Ø Hon’ble Members may recall that the 18th July 2005 Joint Statement had acknowledged that India be regarded as a state with advanced nuclear technology enjoying the same advantages and benefits as other States with advanced nuclear technology, such as the US. This Agreement makes specific references to India and the United States as States possessing advanced nuclear technology, both parties having the same benefits and advantages, both committed to preventing WMD proliferation.
Ø As agreed in the March Separation Plan, India has accepted only IAEA safeguards that will be reflected in an India-specific Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA.
We have not consented to any provision that mandates scrutiny of our nuclear weapons programme or any unsafeguarded nuclear facilities. There are explicit provisions in the Agreement that make it clear that this Agreement does not affect our unsafeguarded nuclear facilities and that it will not affect our right to use materials, equipment, information or technology acquired or developed independently. India and the United States have agreed that the implementation of the Agreement will not hinder or otherwise interfere with India’s nuclear activities including our military nuclear facilities. Nothing in the Agreement would impinge on our strategic programme, our three-stage nuclear power programme or our ability to conduct advanced R&D.
(v) Fuel Supply Assurances:
Ø I would like to reiterate that the March 2006 Separation Plan provided for an India-specific Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, with assurances of uninterrupted supply of fuel to reactors that would be placed under IAEA safeguards together with India’s right to take corrective measures in the event fuel supplies are interrupted. An important assurance given is the commitment of support for India’s right to build up strategic reserves of nuclear fuel to meet the lifetime requirements of India’s reactors.
Ø This Agreement envisages, in consonance with the Separation Plan, US support for an Indian effort to develop a strategic reserve of nuclear fuel to guard against any disruption of supply for the lifetime of India’s reactors. The Agreement reiterates in toto the corresponding portions of the Separation Plan.
It has endorsed the right of India to take corrective measures to ensure uninterrupted operation of its civilian nuclear reactors in the event of disruption of foreign fuel supply.
Hon’ble Members will agree that these provisions will ensure that there is no repeat of our unfortunate experience with Tarapur.
(vi) Integrity and reliability of our strategic programme, autonomy of decision making and future scientific research and development:
Ø In my statements of March 7 and August 17, 2006, I had assured Parliament that the Separation Plan would not adversely affect our strategic programme, the integrity of the three-stage nuclear programme and the autonomy of our Research and Development activity.
Ø This Agreement does not in any way impact on India’s ability to produce and utilize fissile material for its current and future strategic needs.
Our right to use for our own purposes our independent and indigenously developed nuclear facilities has been fully preserved. The Agreement also provides for non-hindrance and non-interference in our activities involving use of nuclear material, non-nuclear material, equipment, components, information or technology and military nuclear facilities produced, acquired or developed independently for our own purposes.
(vii) Cessation of cooperation:
Ø An elaborate multi-layered consultation process has been included with regard to any future events that may be cited as a reason by either Party to seek cessation of cooperation or termination of the Agreement. Both Parties have agreed to take a number of factors into account in their consultations so that the scope for precipitate or unilateral action is reduced.
Cessation of cooperation can be sought by the US only if it is prepared to take the extreme step of termination of the Agreement. India’s right to take “corrective measures” will be maintained even after the termination of the Agreement.
Ø In the case of termination of this Agreement and cessation of cooperation by either Party, each has the right to seek return of nuclear material and equipment supplied by it to the other. However, before the right of return is exercised, the Agreement commits the parties to consult and to take into account specific factors such as national security, ongoing contracts and projects, compensation at market value, physical protection and environmental issues. India and the United States have agreed to consider carefully the circumstances that may lead to termination, including a party’s concerns about a change in the security environment or a response to similar actions by other states that could impact on national security.
The Agreement stipulates that the two parties recognise that exercising the right of return would have profound implications and consequences for their relations.
Ø From India’s point of view our primary objective is to ensure the uninterrupted operation of our nuclear reactors, in the context of the detailed fuel supply assurances provided in the Separation Plan and these are now reflected in full in the Agreement. The Agreement specifically states in regard to fuel supply assurances and India’s right to take “corrective measures” that there will be no derogation of India’s rights in this regard, including the right to take “corrective measures” to ensure the uninterrupted operation of its reactors. This reflects the balance of obligations consistent with the understandings of the July Statement and the March Separation Plan.
8. Among the significant and innovative features of this Agreement are specific mention of the right to run foreign supplied reactors ‘without interruption’ and to take ‘corrective measures’ in the event of fuel supply disruption. This has been made possible by crafting the provisions in a manner that provide for explicit linkages and interlocking of rights and commitments contained in the Agreement.
9. The Agreement does not in any way affect India’s right to undertake future nuclear tests, if it is necessary in India’s national interest. Let me hence reiterate once again that a decision to undertake a future nuclear test would be our sovereign decision, one that rests solely with the Government. There is nothing in the Agreement that would tie the hands of a future Government or legally constrain its options to protect India’s security and defence needs.
10. If I might sum-up, this Agreement does not in any way inhibit, restrict or curtail our strategic autonomy or capabilities. Our rights to pursue our three-stage nuclear power programme remain undiluted.
In the unlikely event of cessation of cooperation there is no derogation of our rights with regard to corrective measures. Our reprocessing rights are upfront and are permanent in nature. Advanced R&D programmes and IPR Protection are fully safeguarded.
11. As I have said, this is an Agreement for cooperation between India and the US on peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Its genesis is the shared perception between India and the US that both our countries need to address their energy challenges, and address them in a manner that is sensitive to concerns about the environment. For India, it is critically important to maintain our current GDP growth rate of 8 to 10% per annum if our goal of eradicating poverty is to be achieved. The energy implications of this growth rate over the next couple of decades are enormous. Even if we were to exploit all our known resources of coal, oil, gas and hydropower, we would still be confronted with a yawning demand and supply gap.
12. India’s three-stage nuclear power programme holds immense promise for the future. The unique thorium-based technology would become an economically viable alternative over a period of time following sequential implementation of the three stages. We must, in the meantime, explore and exploit every possible source of energy. Nuclear energy is a logical choice for India. Indigenous supplies of uranium are highly inadequate and hence we need to source uranium supply from elsewhere. In a globalised world, technology is always a premium item and we look forward to expanding our horizons in this regard as well. We intend to carry forward our cooperation with other countries in civil nuclear energy, in particular with major nuclear suppliers such as Russia and France.
13. We already have a comprehensive nuclear infrastructure. We have a corps of skilled and technically qualified manpower in this sector. It makes sense for us to leverage this valuable asset. As Hon’ble Members are aware, our target for the year 2020 is 20,000 MW of nuclear power generation. It is quite modest.
However, if international cooperation once again became available, we could hope to double this target.
14. On the basis of the Indo-US bilateral Agreement and the finalisation of an India-specific Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, which is being taken up shortly, the Nuclear Suppliers Group is expected to adapt its guidelines to enable international commerce with India in civil nuclear energy and all dual use technologies associated with it. This would be the beginning of the end of the technology-denial regimes against India that have been in existence for over three decades.
15. Apart from its direct impact on our nuclear energy programme, this Agreement will have major spin-offs for the development of our industries, both public and private. High technology trade with the US and other technologically advanced countries will expand rapidly.
16. I wish to draw attention to another major gain for India from this initiative.
We will be creating opportunities for our scientists to participate in the international exchange of scientific ideas and technical know-how and to contribute to the global effort to deal with the world-wide challenges of energy security and climate change. This includes the International Thermonuclear Research Reactor or ITER project, in which India has already joined as a full and equal member along with a handful of technologically advanced countries.
17. In discussions on this subject, questions have been raised about Government’s commitment to an independent foreign policy. I have clearly spelt out the Government’s position in this regard in my statements to Parliament in March and August 2006. I had specially underlined that the pursuit of a foreign policy that is independent in its judgement is a legacy of our founding fathers and an abiding commitment of my Government. India is too large and too important a country to have the independence of its foreign policy taken away by any power.
Today, India stands on the world stage as an influential and respected member of the international community. There is independence in our thought and independence in our actions.
18. I would like to reiterate that our engagement today with all global powers like US, Russia, China, EU, UK, France, Germany and Japan is unprecedented. Engagement with West, East, South East and Central Asia has been significantly stepped up with visible results. We are building new frontiers in our ties with Africa and Latin America. In South Asia we seek to develop a peaceful environment, one that is conducive to ambitious developmental targets. I urge those who question our commitment to an independent foreign policy to display the same degree of confidence in India, as others from outside do.
19. Thus, there is no question that we will ever compromise, in any manner, our independent foreign policy. We shall retain our strategic autonomy.
At the same time, we must not forget India’s long-standing commitment to the noble ideas of nuclear disarmament and our refusal to participate in any arms race, including a nuclear arms race. Our commitment to universal, non-discriminatory and total elimination of nuclear weapons remains undiminished. It was this vision of a world free of nuclear weapons which Shri Rajiv Gandhi put before the UN in 1988 and this still has universal resonance.
20. We remain committed to a voluntary, unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing. We are also committed to negotiate a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty or FMCT in the Conference on Disarmament. India is willing to join only a non-discriminatory, multilaterally negotiated, and internationally verifiable FMCT, as and when it is concluded in the Conference on Disarmament, subject to it meeting our national security interests.
21. Despite changes in government and changes in political leadership we have always tempered the exercise of our strategic autonomy with a sense of global responsibility and with a commitment to the ideals of general and complete disarmament, including global nuclear disarmament. This Government believes that our commitment to these ideals and our efforts to realize them must continue, and continue with even greater vigour, now that we are a nuclear weapon state. The possession of nuclear weapons only increases our sense of responsibility and does not diminish it.
22. Pending global nuclear disarmament, India has maintained an impeccable non-proliferation record. As a responsible nuclear power, India will not be the source of proliferation of sensitive technologies. We stand for the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime as the infirmities in this regime have affected our security interests. We will work together with the international community to advance our common objective of non-proliferation.
23. There are now other landmarks to cross before the goal of India joining the international mainstream as a full and equal partner becomes a reality. We have to finalise an India-specific Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA. Thereafter, the Nuclear Suppliers Group has to agree, by consensus, to adapt its guidelines, we expect without conditions, to enable nuclear commerce with India and to dismantle the restrictions on the transfer of dual use technologies and items to our country. The US Administration is to secure requisite approval from the US Congress. The completion of these next steps will mark the practical realization of this initiative.
24. Our negotiators deserve credit for delivering to the nation an Agreement, which can potentially transform the economic prospects of our country. It is an Agreement that will enable us to meet the twin challenges of energy security and environmental sustainability, and remove the technology denial regimes that have, for decades, been a major constraint on our development.
At the same time, it will bring India the recognition it deserves thanks to the outstanding achievements of our scientists in nuclear and space sciences as well as other high technology areas.
25. This historic initiative has received the steadfast support of President Bush and senior members of his Administration. The strengthening and enhancement of our bilateral relations is an objective that has received his unstinting personal support and commitment. This Agreement is a shining example of how far we have progressed.
26. Finally, Sir, let me end by saying that we have achieved an Agreement that is good for India, and good for the world. I am neither given to exaggeration nor am I known to be self-congratulatory. I will let history judge; I will let posterity judge the value of what we have done through this Agreement. In days to come it will be seen that it is not just the United States but nations across the world that wish to arrive at a new equilibrium in their relations with India. This agreement with the United States will open new doors in capitals across the world. It is another step in our journey to regain our due place in global councils. When future generations look back, they will come to acknowledge the significance of this historic deal.
Thank you, Sir.
Statement of Dr Manmohan Singh in Rajya Sabha on the India- US Nuclear Agreement
August 17, 2006
THE PRIME MINISTER (DR. MANMOHAN SINGH): Mr. Chairman, Sir, as I stand before this august House, I would like to share with you and the hon. Members the vision that inspires us and that vision is bequeathed to us by no less than a person than Jawaharlal Nehru, when, on the eve of our Independence he said, "Our task will not be complete so long as we cannot get rid of chronic mass poverty, ignorance and disease which still afflict millions and millions of our country men and country women." In the last sixty years, a great deal has been done to soften the harsh edges of extreme poverty. But, who can deny that we have to do a lot more to reach our cherished goal. Sir, Panditji said in 1947 that it has been the dream of the greatest man of our age, referring to Mahatma Gandhi, to wipe out every tear from every eye and, he then said, that may be a tall order for us. But, that is the inspiration which has to inspire Governments in a country as poor, as under-developed as we are.
Sir, it is my solid conviction that mass poverty can be removed only if we have a fast expanding economy. Even though, I recognise that a fast expanding economy is by itself not a sufficient condition of getting rid of poverty. We need institutional mechanisms to focus, particularly on the needs of the under privileged sections of our society. If India has to grow at the rate of 8 per cent to 10 per cent and, maybe, more, India needs rising amounts of energy. A question has been asked, 'Have I calculated what type of energy mix this country needs and have I worked out the costs of that?' Mr. Chairman, I had some experience of that. Soon after the Pokhran Tests in 1974, I became the Member for finance of the Atomic Energy Commission and, along with colleagues like Dr. Ramanna, Dr.Sethna, Dr. Iyengar, we worked out the role of nuclear energy in meeting the deficit in our energy requirements.
In this context, we must never forget the primary motivation for India's nuclear programme was the production of energy, defence came much later. And, where are we? After six years, our total production of nuclear power is no more than 3,000 MW. People say that we can use coal. We have plenty of coal. Often low-grade coal has high ash content. If you use increased quantities of coal you run into environmental hazards, like, the CO2 and other gas emissions. As for hydrocarbons, you know there is a great insecurity of supplies. We know that the price of hydrocarbons, oil and gas, can go, in a very short period, to hundred dollars a barrel. Therefore, in this environment, prudence demands that we must widen our energy options. I am not saying that nuclear energy will provide the final answer. All I am saying is, as I understood, all development is about widening human choices. And, when it comes to energy security, widening our choices means that we should be able to make effective use of nuclear power. If the need arises. If the economic calculus demands that this is the most cost-effective means.
It is my belief that the nuclear order that prevailed in the world for thirty odd years, which has imposed restrictions on nuclear trade with India -- if this nuclear order is not changed, India's development options, particularly its quest for energy security will face, to put it mildly, a great degree of uncertainty. Mr. Arun Shourie asked me what calculations have I seen. I have seen many calculations in the Department of Atomic Energy. In the eighties when Shri K.C. Pant was the Chairman of the Energy Policy Committee, a detailed study was done and it was shown that if you were talking of generating power and reaching it to place 700 kms away from a coal mine, nuclear energy is the right economic answer. Things can change. And, I think, the Planning Commission has done recent work, and they have also come to the conclusion that having the nuclear option is something which will give us greater degree of security on the energy front. That's the vision that inspires our quest for changing the nuclear order.
We have, of course, security concerns, international security concerns. Nuclear proliferation in our neighbourhood is something which worries us and, therefore, it is quite clear that while we are committed to our civilizational heritage of working untiringly for universal disarmament, we have to recognise that we are living in a world, where this is not going to happen today, tomorrow, or, day after tomorrow. In this uncertain world, the unpredictable world that we live in, we have legitimate security concerns. The nuclear weapon programme, its autonomy, its independence, dependent solely on our own assessment, must remain a cardinal principle of our nuclear policy.
Sir, I do recognize, if you are trying to move away from the status quo, you do run risks. Change is very disruptive. It upsets existing institutions; existing ways of thinking, and status quo has the satisfaction of being rooted in reality. If you are planning for a future and the future is inherently uncertain, you run the risk that you may go wrong. But we live in a world, where change is the only constant. This country has to be prepared to think big about its future and if that is the vision, that is the mission, then, I sincerely believe the path that we have identified is the right path. I am not saying that I know whether we will succeed or not.
In fact, if I had been allowed to initiate this debate, I would have outlined the risks that we face and, maybe, at the end of it the whole House would have said that this is what things should be and this is what our approach should be. I was not given that opportunity even though I offered, in both the Houses, that I was willing to make a suo moto statement setting out our vision, goals, risks and uncertainties that we face and how we will tackle those risks and uncertainties.
Sir, my thoughts go back to the year 1991. Shri Yashwant Sinha handed me a bankrupt economy with foreign exchange reserves of no more than two weeks. I had to improvise within one week a programme to rescue this economy. Within one month I had to come with a Budget which required far-reaching changes in the way we were taught to think about our economic problems. On that occasion also, in 1992, when I rose to present my second Budget, all Opposition, the Right and Left, rose and said that I should be impeached because I have prepared this budget in consultation with Washington and that I was an American agent. I have lived with that sort of thing. And, therefore, it does not surprise me that today all sorts of adjectives were used. I am strong or weak, history will determine that. But, I do wish to share with this House that I do recognise the risks that reform undertakings run into in all modern societies.
I was reading Machiavelli recently. I should like to quote a paragraph from 'The Prince': " It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit from the new order. This lukewarmness arises partly from the fear of their adversaries, who have the laws in their favour; and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have the experience of it. Thus it arises that on every opportunity for attacking the reformer, his opponents do so with the zeal of partisans, the others only defend him half-heartedly, so that between them he runs a great danger."
Therefore, I am aware of the risks that I do incur. Mr. T.T. Krishnamachari once told me that there are tigers on the prowl on the streets of Delhi. I am aware of the risks but for India's sake, I am willing to take those risks.
Mr. Chairman, you forgive me if I become a little sentimental on this occasion. I was born in a very poor family on the other side of Punjab. I was the first one in the family who went to High School. My father left his class in the eighth standard and became a freedom fighter in Nabha and Jaito morchas that were launched at that time. I may not have been in politics, but I have in my blood the feelings of a freedom fighter's family. I may be late comer into politics, but I have the privilege of belonging to a Party which fought for India's freedom. The Party which produced great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Rajiv Gandhi, etc. That is the heritage of which any Party must be proud.
When I stand before this House, I cay say in all faithfulness that in these two years and three months that this nation has entrusted me with the job of the Prime Minister, I did not seek it; it came my way, but it has been my effort to do my very best to serve the vital interests of this nation.
This commitment I made in 1991. In my first Budget Speech I said, "No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come". I had then said, "The emergence of India, as a major pole of the global economy is one such idea whose time has come." And, I said: "I will dedicate myself to that task." I was criticised by the Right, by the Left, names were used, epithets, 15 years down, who will today say that what I did then was wrong. This Nation stands tall, proud, fast-growing and if India had not launched, if we had not launched the programmes of reforms, I shudder to think, how India would have faced the Asian crisis of the mid 90's. So, Sir, I speak with some experience, even though, I may be novice in politics. I do not have the skills of Jaswant Singhji, Yashwant Sinha, or, Arun Shourieji, but I do wish to say to our countrymen that the service of India, as Jawahar Lal Nehru used to say, means a service of teeming millions who suffer day and night and that is the vision, that is the mission which inspires me and will guide me for whatever is left of my life. No power on earth can take away that privilege from me. I will discharge my duties to this country, to the last ounce of my blood. Sir, I now come to the subject matter of discussion today.
At the outset, I would like to convey my gratitude to all the Hon’ble Members who have participated in this debate. I am grateful for this opportunity to clarify some of the issues arising from the discussion. I will do so in a non partisan spirit and I have every reason to believe that after I have finished that I will be able to carry the whole House with me. Our Government has never shied away from a full discussion in Parliament on this important issue. On three previous occasions on July 29, 2005, February 27, 2006 and March 7, 2006, I had made detailed statements and discussed this important subject in this august House. Once again, several issues have been raised during the current discussions and I wish to take this opportunity to respond to them. I also intend to cover developments since my last Suo Motu statement of March 7 this year.
2. Two types of comments have been made during the discussion in the House. The first set of issues pertains to the basic orientation of our foreign policy. Some Hon’ble Members have observed that by engaging in discussions with, and allegedly acquiescing in the demands made by the United States, we have compromised the independent nature of our foreign policy.
3. The second set of issues pertain to deviations from the July 18 Joint Statement and the March 2 Separation Plan. Many of the points raised by the Hon’ble Members have also been aired outside Parliament, notably also by some senior members of the scientific establishment. Overall, a listing of the important concerns include the following: that the India-US Nuclear initiative and more particularly the content of the proposed legislation in the US Congress, could undermine the autonomy of our decision-making; limit the options or compromise the integrity of our strategic programme; and adversely affect the future of our scientific research and development. To sum up, this would suggest that India’s strategic nuclear autonomy is being compromised and India is allowing itself to be pressurized into accepting new and unacceptable conditions that are deviations from the commitments made by me to Parliament in July 2005 and in February and March this year.
4. I recognize that many of these concerns are borne out of genuine conviction that nothing should be done that would undermine long standing policies that have a bearing on India’s vital national security interests. I fully share and subscribe to these sentiments. I would like to assure the Hon’ble Members that negotiations with the US regarding the civilian nuclear deal have not led to any change in the basic orientation of our policies, or affected our independent judgment of issues of national interest. Last year during my visit to the US, I addressed the National Press Club in the full glare of the media. A question was put to me regarding what I thought about the US intervention in Iraq. In the full public glare of the media I said that it was a mistake. I said the same to President Bush when he visited India. I said India does not find favour with regime change.
5. The thrust of our foreign policy remains the promotion of our national interest. We are unswerving in our commitment to an independent foreign policy. We do recognize the complexities present in an increasingly inter-dependent and multi-polar world. While we recognize that the United States is a pre-eminent power and good relations with the U.S. are in our national interest, this has not in any way clouded our judgment. There are many areas of agreement with the United States, but at the same time there are a number of areas in which we have differences and we have not shied away from making these known to the US, as also expressing them in public. Currently, we are engaged not only with the US but other global powers like Russia, China, the EU, UK, France and Japan. We are also focusing on ASEAN, as well as countries in West Asia, Africa and Latin America. More importantly, we are devoting proportionately larger time and effort in building relations with countries in our immediate neighbourhood like Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Pakistan. Our relations with all these countries are determined by the dictates of our enlightened national interest and we have not allowed any other country, including the United States, to influence our polices. This will not change as long as I am Prime Minister.
6. I would, hence, again reiterate in view of the apprehensions expressed, that the proposed US legislation on nuclear cooperation with India will not be allowed to become an instrument to compromise India’s sovereignty. Our foreign policy is determined solely by our national interests. No legislation enacted in a foreign country can take away from us that sovereign right. Thus there is no question of India being bound by a law passed by a foreign legislature. Our sole guiding principle in regard to our foreign policy, whether it is on Iran or any other country, will be dictated entirely by our national interest.
7. Let me now turn to some of the concerns that have been expressed on the second set of issues regarding possible deviations from assurances given by me in this august House on the July 18, 2005 Joint Statement and the March 2, 2006 Separation Plan. I would like to state categorically that there have neither been nor will there be any compromises on this score and the Government will not allow such compromises to occur in the future.
8. Hon’ble Members will recall that during President Bush’s visit to India in March this year, agreement was reached between India and the United States on a Separation Plan in implementation of the India-United States Joint Statement of July 18, 2005. This Separation Plan had identified the nuclear facilities that India was willing to offer, in a phased manner, for IAEA safeguards, contingent on reciprocal actions taken by the United States. For its part, the United States Administration was required to approach the US Congress for amending its laws and the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group for adapting its Guidelines to enable full civilian nuclear cooperation between India and the international community.
9. The US Administration had thereafter approached the US Congress to amend certain provisions of the United States Atomic Energy Act of 1954, which currently prohibit civil nuclear cooperation with India. The US House of Representatives International Relations Committee passed a Bill on the subject on 27th June 2006. The House of Representatives passed the Bill as approved by its International Relations Committee on July 27.
10. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed its version of the Bill on June 29, 2006. The US Senate is now expected to vote on this version of the Bill some time in September. We have concerns over both the House and Senate versions of the Bill. Since the two Bills are somewhat different in content, according to US practice they will need to be reconciled to produce a single piece of legislation. After adoption by both the House and the Senate, this would become law when the US President accords his approval. The final shape of the legislation would, therefore, be apparent only when the House and the Senate complete the second stage of assent/adoption.
11. Meanwhile, the US Government has approached the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group to adapt its guidelines to enable full civil nuclear cooperation between India and the International community. In March this year, the NSG at its plenary meeting in Brazil held a preliminary discussion on this issue. The matter will be further discussed by the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group later this year. On our part, we have separately raised this issue with several countries and urged them to lift the existing restrictions on nuclear supplies to India. I myself have raised this issue with the Heads of State or Government of Russia, France, UK, Japan, Germany, Brazil, Norway, Iceland and Cyprus, among others.
12. In view of the concerns voiced by the Hon’ble Members, I shall try to address each of these concerns in some detail. I shall, however, begin by affirming that our approach is guided by the understandings contained in the July 2005 Joint Statement and the March 2006 Separation Plan. What we can agree with the United States to enable nuclear cooperation must be strictly within these parameters.
13. The key provisions to which references have been made in Parliament and outside are the following:
(i) Full Civil Nuclear Cooperation : The central imperative in our discussions with the United State on Civil Nuclear Cooperation is to ensure the complete and irreversible removal of existing restrictions imposed on India through iniquitous restrictive trading regimes over the years. We seek the removal of restrictions on all aspects of cooperation and technology transfers pertaining to civil nuclear energy ‑ ranging from nuclear fuel, nuclear reactors, to re-processing spent fuel, i.e. all aspects of a complete nuclear fuel cycle.
This will be the surest guarantee of India’s acceptance as a full and equal partner of the international nuclear community, even while preserving the integrity of our three stage nuclear programme and protecting the autonomy of our scientific research and development. We will not agree to any dilution that would prevent us from securing the benefits of full civil nuclear cooperation as amplified above.
(ii) Principle of Reciprocity : I had earlier assured the House that reciprocity is the key to the implementation of our understanding contained in the July 2005 Statement. I stand by that commitment. When we put forward the Separation Plan, we again made it clear to the United States that India could not be expected to take on obligations such as placing its nuclear facilities under safeguards in anticipation of future lifting of restrictions. India and the United States have held one round of discussions on a proposed bilateral cooperation agreement. India and the IAEA have held technical discussions regarding an India-specific Safeguards agreement. Further discussions are required on both these documents. While these parallel efforts are underway, our position is that we will accept only IAEA safeguards on the nuclear facilities, in a phased manner, and as identified for that purpose in the Separation Plan only when all nuclear restrictions on India have been lifted. On July 29 last year, I had stated that before voluntarily placing our civil nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards, we will ensure that all restrictions on India have been lifted. There has been no shift in our position on this point.
(iii) Certification : The draft Senate Bill requires the US President to make an annual report to the Congress that includes certification that India is in full compliance of its non‑proliferation and other commitments. We have made it clear to the United States our opposition to these provisions, even if they are projected as non‑binding on India, as being contrary to the letter and spirit of the July Statement. We have told the US Administration that the effect of such certification will be to diminish a permanent waiver authority into an annual one. We have also indicated that this would introduce an element of uncertainty regarding future cooperation and is, not acceptable to us.
(iv) India as a State possessing Advanced Nuclear Technology : Hon’ble Members may recall that the July Statement, had acknowledged that India should be regarded as a State with advanced nuclear technology enjoying the same advantages and benefits as other states with advanced nuclear technology, such as the US. The July Statement did not refer to India as a Nuclear Weapons State because that has a particular connotation in the NPT but it explicitly acknowledged the existence of India’s military nuclear facilities. It also meant that India would not attract full‑scope safeguards such as those applied to Non‑Nuclear Weapon States that are signatories to the NPT and there would be no curbs on continuation of India’s nuclear weapon related activities. In these important respects, India would be very much on par with the five Nuclear Weapon States who are signatories to the NPT. Similarly, the Separation Plan provided for an India‑specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA with assurances of uninterrupted supply of fuel to reactors together with India’s right to take corrective measures in the event fuel supplies are interrupted. We have made clear to the US that India’s strategic programme is totally outside the purview of the July Statement, and we oppose any legislative provisions that Mandate scrutiny of either our nuclear weapons programme or our unsafeguarded nuclear facilities.
(v) Safeguards Agreement and Fuel Assurances : In this respect too, it is worth emphasizing that the March 2006 Separation Plan provides for an India‑Specific Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, with assurances of uninterrupted supply of fuel to reactors that would be placed under IAEA safeguards together with India’s right to take corrective measures in the event fuel supplies are interrupted. We, of course, have the sovereign right to take all appropriate measures to fully safeguard our interests. An important assurance is the commitment of support for India’s right to build up strategic reserves of nuclear fuel over the lifetime of India’s reactors. We have initiated technical discussions at the expert level with the IAEA on an India‑Specific Safeguards Agreement. Both the Bilateral Nuclear Cooperation Agreement with the United States and the India-Specific Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA would be only within the parameters of the July Statement and the March Separation Plan. There is no question of India signing either a Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA or an Additional Protocol of a type concluded by Non‑Nuclear Weapons States who have signed the NPT. We will not accept any verification measures regarding our safeguarded nuclear facilities beyond those contained in an India-Specific Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA. Therefore there is no question of allowing American inspectors to roam around our nuclear facilities.
(vi) Integrity and reliability of our strategic programme – autonomy of decision-making and future scientific research and development: In my statement of March 7, 2006, I had assured Parliament that the Separation Plan would not adversely affect our strategic programme. I reiterate that commitment today. The Separation Plan has been so designed as to ensure adequacy of fissile material and other inputs for our strategic programme, based on our current and assessed future needs. The integrity of our 3‑Stage nuclear programme will not be affected. The autonomy of our Research and Development activity, including development of our fast breeder reactors and the thorium programme, in the nuclear field will remain unaffected. We will not accept interference by other countries vis-à-vis the development of our strategic programme. We will not allow external scrutiny of our strategic programme in any manner, much less allow it to be a condition for future nuclear cooperation between India and the international community.
(vii) Moratorium on production of fissile material: Our position on this matter is unambiguous. We are not willing to accept a moratorium on the production of fissile material. We are only committed to negotiate a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, a commitment which was given by the previous government. India is willing to join only a non‑discriminatory, multilaterally negotiated and internationally verifiable FMCT, as and when it is concluded in the Conference on Disarmament, again provided our security interests are fully addressed.
(viii) Non‑discriminatory Global Nuclear Disarmament: Our commitment towards non-discriminatory global nuclear disarmament remains unwavering, in line with the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan. There is no dilution on this count. We do not accept proposals put forward from time to time for regional non‑proliferation or regional disarmament. Pending global nuclear disarmament, there is no question of India joining the NPT as a non‑nuclear weapon state, or accepting full‑scope safeguards as a requirement for nuclear supplies to India, now or in the future.
(ix) Cessation of Future Cooperation : There is provision in the proposed US law that were India to detonate a nuclear explosive device, the US will have the right to cease further cooperation. Our position on this is unambiguous. The US has been intimated that reference to nuclear detonation in the India-US Bilateral Nuclear Cooperation Agreement as a condition for future cooperation is not acceptable to us. We are not prepared to go beyond a unilateral voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing as indicated in the July Statement. The same is true of other intrusive non‑proliferation benchmarks that are mentioned in the proposed US legislation. India’s possession and development of nuclear weapons is an integral part of our national security. This will remain so.
14. Hon’ble Members will appreciate the fact that an international negotiation on nuclear energy cooperation particularly when it involves dismantling restrictive regimes that have lasted for over three decades is a complex and sensitive exercise. What we are attempting today is to put in place new international arrangements that would overturn three decades of iniquitous restrictions. It is inevitable, therefore, that there would be some contradictory pulls and pressures. This does not mean that India will succumb to pressures or accept conditionalities that are contrary to its national interests.
15. I had personally spoken to President Bush in St. Petersburg last month on this issue, and conveyed to him that the proposed US legislation must conform strictly to the parameters of the July 18, 2005 Statement and the March 2, 2006 Separation Plan. This alone would be an acceptable basis for nuclear cooperation between India and the United States. India cannot, and is not prepared to, take on additional commitments outside this agreed framework or allow any extraneous issues to be introduced. I have received an assurance from the US President that it was not his intention to shift goalposts, and that the parameters of the scope of cooperation would be those contained in the July 2005 Joint Statement and the March 2006 Separation Plan. A White House Statement of Administration Policy of July 26, 2006 recognizes some, though not all, of India’s concerns, and conveyed that the Administration has voiced them with the Congress.
16. I can assure you that there is no ambiguity in our position in so far as it has been conveyed to the US. The US is aware of our position that the only way forward is strict adherence to July Statement and March Separation Plan. I am hopeful that the bilateral India‑US Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement when concluded will take into account the issues raised here. However, I must be honest and frank that I cannot predict with certainty the final form of the US legislation or the outcome of this process with the NSG, which consists of 45 countries with divergent views. We are hopeful that this will lead in a direction wherein our interests are fully protected and that there is a complete lifting of restrictions on India that have existed for three decades. Such an outcome if it materializes will contribute to our long‑term energy security by enabling a rapid increase in nuclear power. It would lead to the dismantling of the technology denial regimes that have hampered our development particularly in hi‑tech sectors. I will have wide consultations including with the members of the Atomic Energy Commission, the nuclear and scientific communities and others to develop a broad based national consensus on this important matter. I wish to inform members of the House that I have invited members of the Atomic Energy Commission on the 26th August for a meeting. That same day I have also invited the group of distinguished scientists who have expressed concerns to meet me.
17. Finally, I would only like to state that in keeping with our commitments to Parliament and the nation, we will not accept any conditions that go beyond the parameters of the July 18, 2005 Joint Statement and the March 2, 2006 Separation Plan, agreed to between India and the United States. If in their final form the US legislation or the adapted NSG Guidelines impose extraneous conditions on India, the Government will draw the necessary conclusions, consistent with the commitments I have made to Parliament.
[Prime Minister also gave the following responses to points raised by the Left parties ]
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.
10. The Jackson-Vanik Amendment linking the granting of MFN status to USSR to Jewish emigration is an example relevant to the current debate.
Response: We have studied the proposed US legislation very carefully, including the so-called binding and non-binding provisions. The non-binding provisions do not require mandatory action, but at the same time, have a certain weight in the implementation of the legislation as a whole. We have conveyed our concerns to the US Administration in this respect. Jackson-Vanik Amendment was binding on the Administration and cannot be cited as a precedent for non-binding references in the current bills. A more accurate example than the Jackson-Vanik Amendment is the set of provisions accompanying the renewal of MFN status to China, that included references to China’s human rights, China’s political and religious prisoners, protection of Tibetan heritage and freedom of political expression.
11. Role of Parliament in approving foreign policy.
Response: India follows a Parliamentary model, as specified in our Constitution, wherein treaty making powers rest with the Executive. However, we have kept Parliament fully in the picture regarding various stages of our negotiations with the United States. Broad based domestic consensus cutting across all sections in Parliament and outside will be necessary. We will work towards that objective by addressing various concerns as fully as possible.
[Prime Minister also gave the following responses to points raised by the group of nuclear scientists]
1. “India should continue to be able to hold on to her nuclear option as a strategic requirement in the real world that that we live in, and in the ever-changing complexity of the international political system. This means that we cannot accede to any restraint in perpetuity on our freedom of action. We have not done this for the last 40 years after the Non-Proliferation Treaty came into being, and there is no reason why we should succumb to this now. Universal nuclear disarmament must be our ultimate aim, and until we see the light at the end of the tunnel on this important issue, we cannot accept any agreement in perpetuity.”
Response: We are very firm in our determination that agreement with United States on Civil Nuclear Energy in no way affects the requirements of our strategic programme. We are fully conscious of the changing complexity of the international political system. Nuclear weapons are an integral part of our national security and will remain so, pending the global elimination of all nuclear weapons and universal non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament. Our freedom of action with regard to our strategic programmes remains unrestricted. The nuclear agreement will not be allowed to be used as a backdoor method of introducing NPT type restrictions on India. Our offer to put nuclear facilities under safeguards in perpetuity is conditional upon these facilities securing fuel from international sources for their life time. If the fuel supply assurances as enumerated in Separation Plan are disrupted, then India will have the right to take corrective measures to ensure the continued operation of these reactors.
2. ‘After 1974, when the major powers discontinued cooperation with us, we have built up our capability in many sensitive technological areas, which need not and should not now be subjected to external control. Safeguards are understandable where external assistance for nuclear materials or technologies are involved. We have agreed to this before, and we can continue to agree to this in the future too, but strictly restricted to those facilities and materials imported from external sources.’
Response: Sensitive nuclear technology facilities have not been covered in the Separation Plan. Therefore, there is no question of putting them under safeguards or under external controls. Even with regard to nuclear facilities that have been included in Separation Plan, safeguards will be applied in phases between 2006 and 2014. These safeguarded facilities will be eligible for and will receive fuel materials and technology from international sources. If such supplies cease, then India will be free to protect its interests through corrective measures. That will be spelt out clearly in the India specific safeguards agreement.
3. ‘We find that the Indo-US deal, in the form approved by the US House of Representatives, infringes on our Independence for carrying out indigenous research and development in nuclear science and technology. Our R&D should not be hampered by external supervision or control, or by the need to satisfy any international body. Research and technology development are the Sovereign rights of any nation. This is especially true when they concern strategic national defence and energy self-sufficiency.’
Response: Our independence for carrying out independent research and development in nuclear science and technology will remain unaffected. There will be no external supervision of our R&D since none of the sensitive R&D facilities which handle nuclear material have been included in the Separation Plan. Nothing in the Separation Plan infringes on our sovereign right to conduct research and technology development concerning our national defence and energy self-sufficiency. Government is committed to preserve the integrity of the three stage nuclear power programme, including utilization of our vast thorium resources. Certain nuclear facilities including centers such as TIFR, Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre, Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics etc., have been designated as civilian in the Separation Plan. As these facilities will not handle nuclear material, there is no question of safeguards being applied to them. We expect these centers to participate as full partners in international collaboration project.
4. ‘While the sequence of actions to implement the cooperation could be left for discussion between the two governments, the basic principles on which such actions will rest is the right of Parliament and the people to decide. The Prime Minister has already taken up with President George Bush the issue of the new clauses recommended by the US House of Representatives. If the US Congress, in its wisdom, passes the bill in its present form, the ‘product’ will become unacceptable to India, and diplomatically, it will be very difficult to change it later. Hence, it is important for our Parliament to work out, and insist on, the ground rules for the nuclear deal, at this stage itself.’
Response: I had taken up with President Bush our concerns regarding provisions in the two bills. It is clear that if the final product is in its current form, India will have grave difficulties in accepting the bills. US has been left in no doubt as to our position. The ground rules for our discussions are clear. These are the parameters of the July Statement and the March Separation Plan and commitments given by me to Parliament in the three Suo Moto Statements and my reply to today’s discussions will be the guiding principles of our position. Parliament has been kept fully informed at every stage of the discussions. In their final form, if US legislation or the NSG guidelines impose extraneous conditions on India, the Government will draw the necessary conclusions consistent with my commitments to Parliament.
PM’s Suo-Motu Statement on Discussions on Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation with the US: Implementation of India’s Separation Plan
March 7, 2006
In my Statement on February 27, 2006, I had provided an assurance that this august House will be informed of developments in our discussions with the United States on separation of our civilian and military nuclear facilities. I now inform this august House of developments since my suo motu statement of 27 February.
The President of the United States, His Excellency Mr. George W. Bush visited India between March 1-3, 2006. His visit provided our two countries an opportunity to review progress made in deepening our strategic partnership since the Joint Statement issued during my visit to Washington last July. Our discussions covered the expansion of our ties in the fields of agriculture, economic and trade cooperation, energy security and clean environment, strengthening innovation and the knowledge economy, issues relating to global safety and security and on deepening democracy. Expanded cooperation in each of these areas will have a significant impact on India’s social and economic development. The full text of the Joint Statement issued during President Bush’s visit is placed on the Table of the House.
I have pleasure in informing the House that during President Bush’s visit, as part of the process of promoting cooperation in civilian nuclear energy, agreement was reached between India and the United States on a Separation Plan. Accordingly, India will identify and separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities and place its civilian nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards. Sir, I place on the Table of the House the Separation Plan that has been drawn up by India and agreed between India and the United States in implementation of the India-United States Joint Statement of July 18, 2005.
I would like to outline some salient elements of the Separation Plan:
i) India will identify and offer for IAEA safeguards 14 thermal power reactors between 2006-14. There are 22 thermal power reactors in operation or currently under construction in the country. Fourteen of these will be placed under safeguards by 2014 in a phased manner. This would raise the total installed thermal power capacity in Megawatts under safeguards from 19% at present to 65% by 2014. I wish to emphasize that the choice of specific nuclear reactors and the phases in which they would be placed under safeguards is an Indian decision. We are preparing a list of 14 reactors that would be offered for safeguards between 2006-14.
ii) We have conveyed that India will not accept safeguards on the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) and the Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR), both located at Kalpakkam. The Fast Breeder Programme is at the R&D stage. This technology will take time to mature and reach an advanced stage of development. We do not wish to place any encumbrances on our Fast Breeder programme, and this has been fully ensured in the Separation Plan.
(iii) India has decided to place under safeguards all future civilian thermal power reactors and civilian breeder reactors, and the Government of India retains the sole right to determine such reactors as civilian. This means that India will not be constrained in any way in building future nuclear facilities, whether civilian or military, as per our national requirements.
(iv) India has decided to permanently shut down the CIRUS reactor, in 2010. The fuel core of the Apsara reactor was purchased from France, and we are prepared to shift it from its present location and make it available for placing under safeguards in 2010. Both CIRUS and Apsara are located at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. We have decided to take these steps rather than allow intrusive inspections in a nuclear facility of high national security importance. We are determined that such steps will not hinder ongoing Research and Development.
(v) Reprocessing and enrichment capabilities and other facilities associated with the fuel cycle for our strategic programme have been kept out of the Separation Plan.
(vi) One of the major points addressed in the Separation Plan was the need to ensure reliability of fuel supplies, given our unfortunate past experience with regard to interruption in supply of fuel for Tarapur. We have received commitments from the United States for the reliable supply of fuel to India for reactors that will be offered for safeguards. The United States has also reaffirmed its assurance to create the necessary conditions for India to have assured and full access to fuel for such reactors. Under the July 18 Joint Statement, the United States is committed to seeking agreement from its Congress to amend domestic laws and to work with friends and allies to adjust the practices of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to create the necessary conditions for India to obtain full access to the international market for nuclear fuel, including reliable, uninterrupted and continual access to fuel supplies from firms in several nations. This has been reflected in the formal understandings reached during the visit and included in the Separation Plan.
(vii) To further guard against any disruption of fuel supplies for India, the United States is prepared to take other additional steps, such as :
a) Incorporating assurances regarding fuel supply in a bilateral U.S.?India agreement on peaceful uses of nuclear energy which would be negotiated.
b) The United States will join India in seeking to negotiate with the IAEA an India-specific fuel supply agreement.
c) The United States will support an Indian effort to develop a strategic reserve of nuclear fuel to guard against any disruption of supply over the lifetime of India’s reactors.
d) If despite these arrangements, a disruption of fuel supplies to India occurs, the United States and India would jointly convene a group of friendly supplier countries to include countries such as Russia, France and the United Kingdom to pursue such measures as would restore fuel supply to India.
In light of the above understandings with the United States, an India-specific safeguards agreement will be negotiated between India and the IAEA. In essence, an India-specific safeguards agreement would provide: on the one hand safeguards against withdrawal of safeguarded nuclear material from civilian use at any time, and on the other permit India to take corrective measures to ensure uninterrupted operation of its civilian nuclear reactors in the event of disruption of foreign fuel supplies. Taking this into account, India will place its civilian nuclear facilities under India-specific safeguards in perpetuity and negotiate an appropriate safeguards agreement to this end with the IAEA. In the terms of the Separation plan, there is hence assurance of uninterrupted supply of fuel to reactors that would be placed under safeguards together with India’s right to take corrective measures in the event fuel supplies are interrupted. The House can rest assured that India retains its sovereign right to take all appropriate measures to fully safeguard its interests.
During my Suo Motu Statements on this subject made on July 29, 2005 and on February 27, 2006, I had given a solemn assurance to this august House and through the Honorable members to the country, that the Separation Plan will not adversely effect our country’s national security. I am in a position to assure the Members that that this is indeed the case. I might mention:
i) that the separation plan will not adversely effect our strategic programme. There will be no capping of our strategic programme, and the separation plan ensures adequacy of fissile material and other inputs to meet the current and future requirements of our strategic programme, based on our assessment of the threat scenarios. No constraint has been placed on our right to construct new facilities for strategic purposes. The integrity of our Nuclear Doctrine and our ability to sustain a Minimum Credible Nuclear Deterrent is adequately protected. Our nuclear policy will continue to be guided by the principles of restraint and responsibility.
ii) The Separation Plan does not come in the way of the integrity of our three stage nuclear programme, including the future use of our thorium reserves. The autonomy of our Research and Development activities in the nuclear field will remain unaffected. The Fast Breeder Test Reactor and the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor remain outside safeguards. We have agreed, however, that future civilian Thermal power reactors and civilian Fast Breeder Reactors would be placed under safeguards, but the determination of what is civilian is solely an Indian decision.
As I mentioned in my Statement on February 27, the Separation Plan has been very carefully drawn up after an intensive internal consultation process overseen by my Office. The Department of Atomic Energy and our nuclear scientific community have been associated with the preparation of the Separation Plan. The Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India were actively involved closely at every stage. I am in a position to assure the Hon’ble members that we have not permitted information of national security significance to be compromised in any way during the negotiations.
I believe that the significance of the July 18, 2005 Statement is the prospect it offers for ending India’s nuclear isolation. It will open up prospects for cooperation not only with the US but with countries like Russia, France and other countries with advanced nuclear capabilities, including those from the NSG. The scope for cooperation in the energy related research will vastly expand, so will cooperation in nuclear research activities. India will be able to join the international mainstream and occupy its rightful place among the top countries of the nuclear community. There would be a quantum jump in our energy generating capacity with a consequential impact on our GDP growth. It also ensures India’s participation as a full partner in cutting edge multilateral scientific effort in the nuclear field such as ITER and Generation IV Initiative.
Sir, successful implementation of the July 18 Joint Statement requires reciprocal actions by the United States as well as India. Steps to be taken by India will be contingent upon actions taken by the US. For our part, we have prepared a Separation Plan that identifies those civilian facilities that we are willing to offer for safeguards. The United States Government has accepted this Separation Plan. It now intends to approach the US Congress for amending its laws and the Nuclear Suppliers Group for adapting its Guidelines to enable full civilian cooperation between India and the international community. At the appropriate stage, India will approach the IAEA to discuss and fashion an India-specific safeguards agreement, which will reflect the unique character of this arrangement. Since such a safeguards agreement is yet to be negotiated it will be difficult to predict its content, but I can assure the House that we will not accept any provisions that go beyond the parameters of the July 18, 2005 Statement and the Separation Plan agreed between India and the United States, on March 2, 2006.We are hopeful that this process will move forward in the coming weeks and months.
I would request Hon’ble Members to look at this matter through the larger perspective of energy security. Currently, nuclear energy provides only three per cent of our total energy mix. Rising costs and reliability of imported hydrocarbon supplies constitute a major uncertainty at a time when we are accelerating our growth rate. We must endeavor to expand our capabilities across the entire energy spectrum ? from clean coal and coal-bed methane, to gas hydrates and wind and solar power. We are actively seeking international partnerships across the board and are members of many international initiatives dedicated to energy. Indeed, at the end of my talks with President Bush, we announced Indian participation in two more programmes: the Future-Gen programme for zero emission thermal power plants and the Integrated Ocean Drilling Programme for gas hydrates.
The House will appreciate that the search for an integrated policy with an appropriate mix of energy supplies is central to the achievement of our broader economic or social objectives. Energy is the lifeblood of our economy. Without sufficient and predictable access, our aspirations in the social sector cannot be realized. Inadequate power has a deleterious effect in building a modern infrastructure. It has a direct impact on the optimal usage of increasingly scarce water resources. Power shortage is thus not just a handicap in one sector but a drag on the entire economy.
I believe that the needs of the people of India must become the central agenda for our international cooperation. It is precisely this approach that has guided our growing partnership with the United States. I would, in particular, draw attention to the launching of the Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture with a three year financial commitment to link our universities and technical institutions and businesses to support agricultural education, research, capacity building, including in the area of bio-technology. Our first Green Revolution benefited in substantial measure from assistance provided by the US. We are hopeful that the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture will become the harbinger of a second Green Revolution in our country.
Sir, India and the United States have much to gain from this new partnership. This was the main underlying theme of our discussions during the visit of President Bush. The resumption of civilian nuclear energy cooperation would demonstrate that we have entered a new and more positive phase of our ties, so that we can finally put behind us years of troubled relations in the nuclear field. I am confident that this is a worthy objective that will receive the full support of this House.
PM’s reply to the Lok Sabha debate on India's vote at the IAEA on Iran’s Nuclear Programme
March 6, 2006
Mr. Speaker Sir,
Hon’ble Members have raised several points in the debate following my suo motu statement on our vote at the IAEA on Iran’s nuclear programme. I respect the views voiced by Hon. Members on this important issue and I thank them for contributing to the debate in this august House.
Several members have made the point that our foreign policy should be guided by national interests, and that our positions on such issues should not be based on the position of other countries. My friends, Shri Gurudas Dasgupta and Shri Subroto Bose made these points, as did Shri Kharabela Swain. There can be no two opinions that Government should not take predetermined positions, or positions at the behest of other nations. No one can dispute that it is Government’s duty to take a position on such matters after a dispassionate examination of the facts, keeping in mind our national interests. I respectfully submit that in the present case, the Government has done precisely this. We have considered the facts and have exercised our independent judgment before taking a position. This is also the very essence of the policy of Non Alignment, which my friend Shri Rupchand Pal exhorted us to follow.
Let me recapitulate the essential facts of the matter :
Ø Iran has the legal right to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy, but it also has certain obligations and responsibilities, based on the Safeguards Agreement which it voluntarily undertook with the IAEA
Ø It was in recognition of the existence of several unanswered questions that Iran agreed to start the process of assisting IAEA with investigations into several past activities.
Ø An important part of this process was the voluntary suspension by Iran of all enrichment and reprocessing activity in November 2004.
Ø However, since last August, Iran has renewed production of Uranium Hexafluoride, and since then, of uranium enrichment.
Ø Unresolved question regarding centrifuge imports and designs to make uranium metallic hemispheres remain. The origin of such procurement is an issue of direct concern for us.
Under these circumstances, our position was based on these facts, which emerged from an objective investigation by the IAEA, and through information disclosed by Iran itself.
Mr. Speaker Sir,
There is also the question that several Hon. Members raised regarding the IAEA Board of Governors’ meeting today. Shri Chandrappan and Shri Owaisi spoke of this. I should inform Members that it is as yet not clear in what manner this issue will be taken up by the Board of Governors today. The Resolution adopted by the IAEA Board of Governors last month mentions certain steps that Iran and the IAEA will be taking. Discussions are taking place in Vienna on this matter. The Government’s approach will be based on our consistent policy of promoting efforts for a resolution of issues through dialogue and discussions. I would like to assure Hon. Members that Government will take into account the sentiments expressed in this House in this context.
Some points were also made regarding options that could have been explored by the international community. There have also been discussions between Iran and Russia in this regard. We remain hopeful that solutions acceptable to all sides will be found. We do not favour confrontation, rhetoric or coercive measures as these only exacerbate tensions in the region and beyond. India has consistently stated that all sides must work to find mutually acceptable compromise solutions, and that confrontation should be avoided at all costs. For this to be possible, time must be given for diplomacy to work. I think there is consensus in Parliament and in our country that confrontation is not in the interests of India or of our region. Whenever the matter is taken up, we will work with all like-minded countries, including those from the NAM, for a mutually acceptable resolution of the issue.
Mr. Speaker Sir,
Several Hon. Members, including Maj Gen Khanduri expressed concerns regarding our relations with Iran, and the effect of these developments on this important relationship. As I said in my suo motu statement, our Government is committed to widening, deepening and expanding our diverse and mutually beneficial ties with Iran. Only recently, my colleague the Minister of State for External Affairs, Shri E Ahammed, visited Tehran. He had meetings with the President of Iran, H.E. Mr. Ahmadinejad, as well as several Ministers of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Shri Ahammed emphasized our desire to remain engaged with Iran on all issues of mutual interest. Our desire to further deepen the friendly and productive ties between our two countries was fully reciprocated.
Government will continue to monitor the situation closely, and will deal with the Iran issue with the seriousness that it merits.
In dealing with this issue, we will pay due attention to our relationship with Iran, the need to maintain peace and stability in the Gulf region and safeguarding our own security.
I reiterate that this House can rest assured that we will also take into account the sentiments expressed in the House.
PM's opening remarks at the Joint Press Conference with US President Bush
March 2, 2006
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,
President Bush and I have completed very cordial and productive discussions this morning. We reviewed the status of our cooperation, including the agenda that we set on July 18, 2005. The Joint Statement that will be shared with all of you today contains a number of announcements and initiatives that underline the significant progress in our relationship.
Many of the areas that our cooperation now covers are central for India’s national development. They include energy, agriculture, science & technology, trade & investment, high-technology, health and a clean environment. This is an ambitious agenda, one that is befitting our growing strategic partnership. When implemented, they will make a real difference to the lives of our people.
The President and I had an opportunity to review the global situation in our talks. As you are all aware, India and the United States are working together increasingly on global issues. This is not just good for our two countries but also benefits the international community as we can complement each others capabilities and share responsibilities. President Bush is admired for his strong position on terrorism and I was particularly pleased that we agreed on the need to root out terrorism, of which India has been a major victim.
We discussed the progress made in the implementation of our understanding on Civil Nuclear Cooperation of July 18, 2005. I conveyed to the President that India has finalized the identification of civilian facilities to which we had committed. I was pleased to hear from the President that he now intended to approach the US Congress to amend US laws, and the Nuclear Suppliers Group to adjust its guidelines. We will be starting discussions with the IAEA in regard to fashioning, an appropriate Safeguards Agreement and subsequently and Additional Protocol. You will appreciate I cannot say more now while Parliament is in session.
Before concluding, I would like to express my warm appreciation for the personal interest shown and leadership role that President Bush has played in transforming our ties. I have met the President a number of times and on each occasion, I have admired his vision, his resolve and his commitment to our bilateral relations. Our discussions today make me confident that there are no limits to the Indo-US partnership.
May I invite you, Mr. President, to make your remarks?
PM’s opening remarks to the Indo- US CEO’s Forum
March 2, 2006
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have already welcomed President George Bush and Mrs Bush on this their frist visit to India. I would now like to welcome the US CEO’s who have traveled to Inda for this meeting.
The President and I have just concluded our official discussions and I am sure he shares my pleasure in being able to meet with the CEO’s group. The establishment of this group last year was an important initiative aimed at creating a parallel track in which the private sectors of the two countries could interact and lay out a road map for cooperation.
I would like to thank the two Co-Chairs Mr. William Harrison and Mr. Ratan Tata and their colleagues for the work done in preparing the report which they will now present.
I have been briefed on the main recommendations and I am happy to say that some of the recommendations are already reflected in the decisions which the President and I have taken today. I will have more to say on the other recommendations a little later.
I now invite President Bush to share his thoughts and initiate the discussion.
PM’s speech at the banquet for President Bush
March 2, 2006
President Bush, Madame First Lady, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to welcome you and your distinguished delegation to India. We are pleased to have you in our midst.
It is our privilege to return your warm hospitality at the White House. The people of India have great regard and affection for the American people, as they have had for centuries. Ours has long been a two-way relationship. Long years ago, the Father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, acknowledged the influence of Henry David Thoreau when he launched a movement for civil disobedience against foreign rule. In our own generation, a great son of the United States, Martin Luther King, acknowledged the influence of Gandhiji, when he launched a non-violent struggle for civil liberties and racial equality.
Close to half a century ago President Eisenhower said on a visit to India: “We who are free – and who prize our freedom above all other gifts of God and nature – must know each other better; trust each other more; support each other.” Today those words have a new resonance.Your people and ours have come to regard democracy and peaceful political mobilization as legitimate and civilised instruments of social change. Our passionate commitment to democracy and human rights, our respect for equality of all before the law and our regard for freedom of speech and faith place us on the same side of history.
Today, in India, we are engaged in a Himalayan adventure of pursuing development, improving the quality of life and modernizing one of the world’s oldest civilizations. We seek to provide a social and economic environment at home that will unleash the creativity and enterprise of every Indian, thus enabling our people to live a life of dignity, fulfillment and self-respect. The United States has long been a partner in our journey of progress. I am therefore happy that on this visit you will renew an old association between our countries in the field of agriculture. Our farmers greatly benefited from American help in the past, and they will now do so again through the knowledge initiative that you will launch.
In India, we admire the creativity and enterprise of the American people, your excellent institutions, the openness of your economy and your ready embrace of diversity. These have attracted the brightest Indian minds, thereby creating a bridge of understanding that transcends distance and differences between us. Tomorrow, you will meet young Indians who fuel the engines of our knowledge economy. Your own country has made it possible for the talent and abilities of our people to become more visible to all.
We seek a world free of poverty, ignorance, disease and the threat of terrorism. The United States and India must work together in all possible forums to these ends. We must fight terrorism wherever it exists, because terrorism anywhere threatens democracy everywhere.
India seeks a neighbourhood of peace and prosperity. Our sub-continent of ours has been home to all the great religions of the world. It is a powerhouse of human creativity, where knowledge is worshipped as the gift of our creators. With wisdom and farsightedness, we South Asians can transform not just this region, but the whole world. In our journey of modernization and development, social change and empowerment, we see the United States as a partner, a friend and a well-wisher.
In particular, Mr. President, we see you as a true friend of India. I have always been touched by your warm praise for India and the Indian people. We sincerely acknowledge your deep personal commitment to a closer economic and strategic partnership between our two countries. Indeed, I recall that at our very first meeting you paid tribute to our efforts to achieve economic and social salvation in the framework of an open society and an open economy. I was deeply touched by your admiration for Indian democracy and our commitment to pluralism and modernism.
We in India greatly appreciate the firm stand you took against the upsurge of protectionist forces in your country and the farsighted approach you adopted on the issue of outsourcing. In taking this stand you have not only cemented closer relations between our two countries but also helped America retain its edge in the global market.
Madame First Lady, my wife and I recall with gratitude your warm hospitality at your home. You have a deep and abiding interest in learning and education. I hope you will return to India to spend time with our students and teachers and discover a new India in the making. I am truly sorry that the President is not taking you to Taj Mahal this time! I hope he will be more chivalrous the next time you are here!
I now request you to join me in a toast:
To the continued good health and happiness of the President and First Lady;
To ever-lasting friendship between our great nations.
PM’s statement in Parliament on Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation with United States
February 27, 2006
“I rise to inform this august House of the status of discussions with the United States on civil nuclear energy co-operation. Substantive aspects of this are reflected in the Joint Statement of July 18, 2005 that US President Bush and I agreed upon during my visit to Washington DC last year. I would like to use this occasion to outline the context and core elements of the Joint Statement, before detailing the status of the ongoing negotiations.
Hon’ble Members are aware that our effort to reach an understanding with the United States to enable civil nuclear energy cooperation was based on our need to overcome the growing energy deficit that confronts us. As India strives to raise its annual GDP growth rate from the present 7-8% to over 10%, the energy deficit will only worsen. This may not only retard growth, it could also impose an additional burden in terms of the increased cost of importing oil and natural gas, in a scenario of sharply rising hydrocarbon prices. While we have substantial reserves of coal, excessive dependence on
coal-based energy has its own implications for our environment. Nuclear technology provides a plentiful and non-polluting source of power to meet our energy needs. However, to increase the share of nuclear power in our energy mix, we need to break out of the confines imposed by inadequate reserves of natural uranium, and by international embargos that have constrained our nuclear programme for over three decades.
Established through the vision of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and sustained by the commitment of scientists like Dr. Homi Bhabha, our nuclear programme is truly unique. Its uniqueness lies in the breadth of its overarching vision: of India mastering a three-stage nuclear programme using our vast thorium resources, and mastering more complex processes of the full nuclear fuel cycle. Consequently, our civilian and strategic programmes are deeply intertwined across the expanse of the nuclear fuel cycle. There are hardly any other countries in a similar situation. Over the years, the maturation of our nuclear programme, including the development of world-class thermal power reactors, has made it possible to contemplate some changes. These are worth considering if benefits include gaining unhindered access to nuclear material, equipment, technology and fuel from international sources.
However, international trade in nuclear material, equipment and technologies is largely determined by the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG)—an informal group of 45 countries. Members include the United States, Russia, France and the United Kingdom. India has been kept out of this informal arrangement and therefore denied access to trade in nuclear materials, equipment and various kinds of technologies. It was with this perspective that we approached negotiations with the United States on enabling full civilian nuclear energy cooperation with India. The essence of what was agreed in Washington last July was a shared understanding of our growing energy needs. In recognition of our improved ties, the United States committed itself to a series of steps to enable bilateral and international cooperation in nuclear energy. These include adjusting domestic policies, and working with allies to adjust relevant international regimes. There was also a positive mention of possible fuel supply to the first two nuclear power reactors at Tarapur. US support was also indicated for India’s inclusion as a full partner in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Research Project and the Generation IV International Forum.
But more importantly, in the Joint Statement, the United States implicitly acknowledged the existence of our nuclear weapons programme. There was also public recognition that as a responsible State with advanced nuclear technologies, India should acquire the same benefits and advantages as other States which have advanced nuclear technology, such as the United States. The Joint Statement offered the possibility of decades-old restrictions being set aside to create space for India’s emergence as a full member of a new nuclear world order.
On our part, as Hon’ble Members may recall from my suo motu statement on July 29 last year, we committed ourselves to separating the civilian and strategic programme. However this was to be conditional upon, and reciprocal to, the United States fulfilling its side of the understanding. I had stressed that reciprocity was the key and we expected that the steps to be taken by India would be conditional upon and contingent on action taken by the United States. I had emphasized then—and I reiterate today—that no part of this process would affect or compromise our strategic programme.
I now come to the negotiations that have taken place in the past few months. While these have been principally with the US, there have been discussions with other countries like Russia, UK and France as well. At the political level, I have maintained contact with President Chirac of France, President Putin of Russia, Prime Minister Blair of the UK. I have also raised this subject with the Heads of State/Government of Norway, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, Czech Republic and Ireland - all members of the NSG. I also met President Bush in New York last September and discussed implementation of the July 18 statement. In the same period, several American Congressional leaders and policy-makers have visited India in the past few months, many of whom met me. We have amply clarified our objective in pursuing full civil nuclear energy cooperation for our energy security and to reassure them of India’s impeccable non-proliferation credentials.
At the official level, we have constituted two groups comprising key functionaries concerned with strategic and nuclear matters. They included the Department of Atomic Energy, the Ministry of External Affairs, the Armed Forces and my Office. These two groups were respectively mandated to draw up an acceptable separation plan, and to negotiate on this basis. The directive given to both groups was to ensure that our strategic nuclear programme is not compromised in any way, while striving to enlarge avenues for full civil nuclear energy cooperation with the international community. The negotiations by our officials have been extensive and prolonged. These have focused on four critical elements: the broad contours of a Separation Plan; the list of facilities being classified civilian; the nature of safeguards applied to facilities listed in the civilian domain; and the nature and scope of changes expected in US domestic laws and NSG guidelines to enable full civilian nuclear energy cooperation with India.
Hon’ble Members may be assured that in deciding the contours of a separation plan, we have taken into account our current and future strategic needs and programmes after careful deliberation of all relevant factors, consistent with our Nuclear Doctrine. We are among very few countries to adhere to the doctrine of ‘No first Use’. Our doctrine envisions a credible minimum nuclear deterrent to inflict unacceptable damage on an adversary indulging in a nuclear first strike. The facilities for this, and the required level of comfort in terms of our strategic resilience have thus been our criterion in drawing up a separation plan. Ours is a sacred trust to protect succeeding generations from a nuclear threat and we shall uphold this trust. Hon’ble Members may therefore be assured that in preparing a Separation Plan, there has been no erosion of the integrity of our Nuclear Doctrine, either in terms of current or future capabilities.
The Separation Plan that is being outlined is not only consistent with the imperatives of national security, it also protects our vital research and development interests. We have ensured that our three-stage nuclear programme will not be undermined or hindered by external interference. We will offer to place under safeguards only those facilities that can be identified as civilian without damaging our deterrence potential or restricting our R&D effort, or in any way compromising our autonomy of developing our three stage nuclear programme. In this process, the Department of Atomic Energy has been involved at every stage, and the separation plan has been drawn up with their inputs.
Therefore, our proposed Separation Plan entails identifying in phases, a number of our thermal nuclear reactors as civilian facilities to be placed under IAEA safeguards, amounting to roughly 65% of the total installed thermal nuclear power capacity, by the end of the separation plan. A list of some other DAE facilities may be added to the list of facilities within the civilian domain. The Separation Plan will create a clearly defined civilian domain, where IAEA safeguards apply. On our part, we are committed not to divert any nuclear material intended for the civilian domain from designated civilian use or for export to third countries without safeguards.
Negotiations are currently at a delicate stage. In our dialogue with our interlocutors, we have judged every proposal made by the US side on merits, but we remain firm in that the decision of what facilities may be identified as civilian will be made by India alone, and not by anyone else.
At the same time, we are not underestimating the difficulties that exist in these negotiations. There are complex issues involved. Several aspects of the nuclear programme lend themselves in the public discussions to differing interpretations, such as the Fast Breeder Programme or our fuel-cycle capabilities such as re-processing and enrichment requirements. The nature and range of strategic facilities that we consider necessarily outside safeguards constitute yet another example. We have however conveyed to our interlocutors that while discussing the Separation Plan, there are details of the nature and content of our strategic requirements that we cannot share. We will not permit information of national security significance to be compromised in the process of negotiation.
It is essential to recall that the July 18 Statement was not about our strategic programme. It was intended to be the means to expand our civilian nuclear energy capacities and thereby to help pave the way for faster economic progress. In seeking to achieve this objective, we appreciate the need for patience to remove misperceptions that abound. I reiterate that India has an exemplary record on non-proliferation and this will continue to be so. All in all, one major achievement so far is that a change is now discernible in the international system. We believe that when implemented, the understandings reflected in the Joint Statement will give India its due place in the global nuclear order. The existence of our strategic programme is being acknowledged even while we are being invited to become a full partner in international civil nuclear energy cooperation.
I must emphasize that the nation is justly proud of the tremendous work of our nuclear scientists and the Department of Atomic Energy in mastering all the key aspects of the full nuclear fuel cycle, often under difficult circumstances. The tremendous achievements of our scientists in mastering the complete nuclear fuel cycle - the product of their genius and perseverance – will not be frittered away. We will ensure that no impediments are put in the way of our research and development activities. We have made it clear that we cannot accept safeguards on our indigenous Fast Breeder Programme. Our scientists are confident that this technology will mature and that the programme will stabilize and become more robust through the creation of additional capability. This will create greater opportunities for international cooperation in this area as well. An important reason why the US and other countries with advanced nuclear technologies are engaging with India as a valued partner is precisely because of the high respect and admiration our scientists enjoy internationally, and the range and quality of the sophisticated nuclear programme they have managed to create under the most difficult odds. This gives us confidence to engage in these negotiations as an equal partner.
As I said, many aspects of the proposed separation plan are currently under negotiation. It is true that certain assurances in the July 18 Statement remain to be fulfilled – the supply of imported fuel for Tarapur I and II, for one. Some elements, such as US support for India’s participation in the ITER programme, have materialized. The issue of the nature of safeguards to be applied to facilities designated civilian also remains pending resolution. I seek the indulgence of this House not to divulge every single detail of the negotiations at this time. However, this august House can be assured that the limits are determined by our overarching commitment to national security and the related issue of the autonomy of our nuclear programme. Our Government will take no step that could circumscribe or cast a shadow over either.
I am aware that concerns have been raised over information being shared with outsiders, but not with our own citizens. Members may be assured that nothing that could compromise our nuclear deterrent has been shared with anyone. On this aspect there is no reason for concern or doubt.
As I said at the outset, our approach is defined by the need to utilize the window of opportunity before us, to find a solution to our energy deficit. We have also been guided by the need to dismantle international restrictions, which, when achieved, could unleash our scientific talent and increase commercial potential in the nuclear and related sectors. The nation will be kept informed, through this august House.”
PM’s Suo Motu Statement on Iran
February 17, 2006
Taking into account the concerns that have been raised about India’s vote on the Iran nuclear issue at the meeting of the Governing Board of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, on February 5, 2006, I rise to apprise this august House of the facts of this matter.
Let me begin by affirming that India’s vote on the IAEA resolution does not, in any way, detract from the traditionally close and friendly relations we are privileged to enjoy with Iran. Indeed, India-Iran ties, as we have repeatedly emphasized, are civilizational in nature. We intend to further strengthen and expand our multifaceted ties with Iran to mutual benefit.
Let me also state that the importance of India’s relations with Iran is not limited to any single issue or aspect. This relationship is important across a wide expanse of cooperation, both bilateral and multilateral. We also cooperate on regional issues. We value this relationship and intend to do what we can to nurture our bilateral ties. Let me reiterate in this context that we are committed to the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. The economics of this project is currently under professional investigation by internationally reputed consultants. This is a necessary step in taking the pipeline project forward.
On the specific issue of Iran’s nuclear programme, let me reiterate what I have said publicly on several occasions. As a signatory to the NPT, Iran has the legal right to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy consistent with its international commitments and obligations. It is incumbent upon Iran to exercise these rights in the context of safeguards that it has voluntarily accepted upon its nuclear programme under the IAEA.
These rights and obligations must also be seen in context of developments since 2003, when IAEA began seeking answers to a number of questions arising from Iran’s nuclear activities, some of which were undeclared to the IAEA in previous years. Subsequently, in context of these demands, Iran did extend cooperation to the IAEA in investigations of its some of these activities.
In November 2004, Iran agreed with the EU-3 (France, Germany, and the UK) to voluntarily suspend all enrichment and reprocessing activities until questions relating to its past nuclear activities were clarified by the IAEA. However, since August last year, Iran has renewed production of uranium hexafluoride and thereafter, has resumed uranium enrichment.
Successive reports of the Director General of the IAEA have noted that while Iran’s cooperation has resulted in clarifying a number of questions, there remain many unresolved questions on key issues. These include the use of centrifuges imported from third countries, and designs relating to fabrication of metallic hemispheres. Hon’ble Members are aware that the source of such clandestine proliferation of sensitive technologies lies in our own neighbourhood, details of which have emerged from successive IAEA reports. This august House will agree that India cannot afford to turn a blind eye to security implications of such proliferation activities.
The objectives of upholding Iran’s rights and obligations and our security concerns arising from proliferation activities in our extended neighbourhood have shaped our position. Therefore, our approach has been consistently in favour of promoting all efforts to find a solution, based on acceptable mutual compromises, in which Iran’s interests and the concerns of the international community would be addressed. We have consistently worked to promote a consensus in the IAEA towards this end. This has been the logic of our stand at the IAEA Board of Governors Meetings both in September 2005 and earlier this month.
I might remind Hon’ble Members that it is only on these two occasions that the Resolution that resulted has not been a consensus one, and a vote has been necessary. Despite that, in the latest vote this month, the Resolution not only had the support of all P-5 countries including Russia and China, but also of important NAM and developing countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, Singapore, Yemen and Sri Lanka.
The resolutions passed in September last year and earlier this month underlined the need for time to be given for diplomatic efforts to continue. The recent resolution of February 5 asks the Director General of IAEA to inform the UN Security Council of the status of negotiations with Iran, and the steps that Iran needs to take to address these questions. It calls for continued diplomatic efforts including through exploration of the option provided by Russia, which we have supported. Hon’ble Members are aware that Russia had offered to locate a joint venture project on Russian soil to address Iranian needs for enriched uranium, provided Iran suspends its enrichment programme to increase international confidence regarding the unresolved questions of the last two decades. Russia and Iran are currently in discussions on the subject, and we remain hopeful of a positive outcome. It is our hope and belief that the issues that have arisen can still be resolved through discussion and dialogue.
Mr. Speaker, Sir,
I have set out the background in which we have taken a position at the IAEA. I would like to reiterate our unshakeable conviction that such a sensitive issue, which concerns the rights and international obligations of sovereign nation and a proud people can only be addressed through calm, reasoned diplomacy and the willingness on all sides to eschew confrontation and seek acceptable compromise solutions. We are therefore deeply concerned by escalating rhetoric and growing tensions and the possibility of a confrontation over this issue. This is a matter of concern for us as tensions in this region ¾ where our vital political, economic and security interests are involved ¾ affects us directly. The region hosts 3.5 million Indian citizens whose welfare is a major concern of my Government.
We therefore call upon all concerned to exercise restraint, demonstrate flexibility and continue with dialogue, to reach an amicable solution. As I mentioned, there will be another meeting of the IAEA Board in March this year at which a full and regular report will be presented by the IAEA Director-General. In the days to come, we will support diplomatic efforts in this regard, drawing upon our friendly relations with all the key countries involved.
The Government is conscious of the need to balance several important considerations in this regard. We have a strong and valuable relationship with Iran which we would like to take forward in a manner that is mutually beneficial. We have great respect and admiration for the Iranian people with whom our fraternal ties go back several millennia. We have every intention of ensuring that no shadow is cast on these bonds.
In the overall context that I have outlined in detail, I am confident that this august House will agree that the stance taken by this Government has been consistent and in keeping with our own well considered and independent judgment of our national interests. I am confident that this policy will receive the support of this House and our nation.