Averting A Nonproliferation Disaster

By Daryl Kimball

Decision time has arrived on the controversial proposal to roll back three decades of nuclear trade restrictions on India, which violated peaceful nuclear cooperation agreements by detonating its first nuclear bomb in 1974.

As early as Sept. 4-5, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) will reconvene to consider a revised U.S. proposal to permit nuclear trade with India. At a special meeting of the 45-member group last month, the Bush administration proposed an India-specific exemption from NSG guidelines, which currently require full-scope IAEA safeguards as a condition of supply. Bowing to Indian demands, the Bush team called for a "clean" and "unconditional" waiver that would have allowed unrestricted nuclear trade with India at the discretion of each NSG member state.

To their credit, more than 20 states essentially said "no thanks" and proposed more than 50 amendments and modifications that would establish some basic but vitally important restrictions and conditions on nuclear trade with India. Many of these amendments track with the restrictions and conditions established in 2006 U.S. legislation regulating U.S. nuclear trade with India, which include the termination of nuclear trade if India resumes testing and a ban on the transfer of uranium-enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing technology.

Incredibly, U.S. officials are resisting even these most basic measures. As the Department of State's Richard Boucher said in an Aug. 19 interview, "[S]ome would like to see all the provisions of the Hyde Act legislated in some international fashion. We don't think that is the right way."

Although acknowledging India's legitimate interest in diversifying its energy options, like-minded countries, including Austria, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland, correctly recognize that the Bush approach is deeply flawed and would effectively end the NSG as a meaningful entity. It is vital that these and other responsible states stand their ground.

Why? Any India-specific exemption from the NSG guidelines would erode the credibility of NSG efforts to ensure that access to peaceful nuclear trade and technology is available only to those states that meet global nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament standards.

Contrary to the Orwellian claims of its proponents, the deal would not bring India into the nonproliferation mainstream. Unline 179 other countries, India has not signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. It continues to produce fissile material and expand its nuclear arsenal. As one of only three states never to have signed the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), it has not made a legally binding commitment to achieve nuclear disarmament.

In order to maintain its option to resume nuclear testing, India is seeking bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements that help provide it with strategic fuel reserves and lifetime fuel guarantees. This flatly contradicts a provisions in U.S. law championed by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) that stipulates that fuel supplies be limites to reasonable reactor operating requirements.

Given India's demands, the revised U.S. proposal will likely only pay lip serive to the other NSG states' concerns. Any such proposal should be flatly rejected as unsound and irresponsible. To be effective, NSG guidelines must establish clear and unambiguous terms and conditions for the initiation of nuclear trade and possible termination of nuclear trade.

If NSG states agree under pressure from an outgoing U.S. administration to blow a hole in NSG guidelines in order to allow a few states to profit from nuclear trade with India, they should at a minimum:

* establish a policy that if India resumes nuclear testing or violates its safeguard agreements, trade involving nuclear items with India shall be terminated and unused fuel supplies returned;

* expressly prohibit any transfer of reprocessing, enrichment, or heavy-water production items or technology, which can be used to make bomb material;

* regularly review India's compliance with its nonproliferation obligations and commitments; and

* call on India to join with four of the five original nuclear-weapon states in declaring that is has stopped fissile material production and call on India to transform its nuclear test moratorium pledge into a legally binding commitment.

Some Indian officials have threatened they may walk away from the deal if the NSG established even these mose basic requirements. If that occurs, so be it.

The India nuclear deal would be a nonproliferation disaster, especially now. The current U.S. proposal threatens to further undermine the NPT, the nuclear safeguards system, and efforts to prevent the proliferation of sensitive fuel-cycle technologies. Absent curbs on Indian nuclear testing and fissile material production, it would also indirectly contribute to the expansion of India's nuclear arsenal with adverse consequences for the nuclear arms race in Asia.

For those world leaders who are serious about advancing nuclear disarmament, holding all states to their international commitments, and strengthening the NPT, it is time to stand up and be counted.

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Anonymous said...

1. There are specific and well-stated problems with NPT, which Daryl Kimball and ACA refuses to acknowledge. Why should India sign a discriminatory treaty ? India already (i) acknowledges and (ii) adhere to all other aspects of the NPT.
2. India's impeccable non-proliferation record is there for anyone (including ACA) to see.
3. The US-India nuclear deal is good for the non-proliferation, good for preventing global warming, good for India's energy security, good for everyone. Those who oppose are doing it for their narrow flawed views. The international community should stand together and support civilian nuclear commerce with India.

Anonymous said...

India has an impeccable record on Nuclear discipline. Being the largest democracy, poor population and growing infrastructure and energy needs, the Nuclear Deal is about economic upliftment. India never displayed any adventurism like its neighbor pakistan in proliferating technologies or rogue nuclear trades. The NPT regime is flawed since it will not provide an equality based Nuclear Power status to none other than the select few on top, which in itself is a shame considering that the world has move forward since the 60s and 70s. The new world order has to be recognized and respected. The policy of persistant and irrational denial advocated is not relevant with the times and economic pains of the new world.

Sanjoy Das said...

What is missing from here is that the five recognized nuclear powers under the NPT (USA, Russia, UK, France, China) are exempt from these conditions.

Between themselves, the five recognized nuclear powers have only three nuclear reactors under IAEA inspection. However, India has agreed to place eleven reactors (i.e. most of what it has) under IAEA inspection.

India has also agreed to sign the additional protocol of the IAEA (i.e. more intrusive inspections) which is not mandatory.

Before going nuclear in 1998, India under Rajiv Gandhi, had in fact offered to sign the NPT as a non-nuclear power, but only if the recognized five nuclear powers agree to a thirty year time-frame for universal disarmament. The five nuclear powers did not agree of course!

The aims of the NPT arms-control bandwagon is to completely eliminate India's possibility of possessing a credible nuclear deterrence against its adversary China, which has vastly superior weapons. China also is the only nation that proliferated to Pakistan, has major territorial disputes with India, and let us not forget that the Dalai Lama and over a million Tibetans live permanently in India.

Rajendra Kumar Kalkhande said...

Dear Mr Kimbell,

Whole world knows that India would not submit to discriminatory treaties. Its the hypocracy of west for which we have been paying heavy price. You are fully at comfort with thousans of nuclear bombs of five declared nuclear weapon states, but suspicious with India having only 50-100 weapons. We all know that USA gave weapon technology to UK and France, USSR to China and then China to Pakistan. India has never done anything like that. May be west wants that India should also indulge in this type of activities. Time has come to relook at every international institution now which has been created to arm twist third world countries. India has lived with discremination all these years. We will live for another 1000 years but won't submit to something like you are asking.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Kimball,

I appreciate your single handed, zealous efforts to educate the world anout India's devious plans to increase its nuclear arsenal.

Although it means higher gasolene prices and more glonal warming the "group of six" nations are willing to accept this high cost for the glory of non proliferation.

Rejection of India's case by NSG will only renew India's resolve to develop these technologies on its own. No doubt it will be costly, but will help India to emerge stronger in the long run.

Anonymous said...

1. The Indo-US deal is neither a peace treaty nor for energy security. Both the governments are fooling the people of India.
2. The 123 agreement emphasises on strategic partnership between India and US. So The treaty is a part of US ambition of keeping INdia in its fold by hook or crook. This ambition of US is irrespective of which party is in power in US.

3. The world has seen two world wars. Both the parties fighting the wars are the losers in the end. After second WW2, UK was totally devaststed and took loans of 56 billion pound sterling from Canada repayable in fifty years.

4. Then came Iraq and India. Iraq faced sanctions for defying US in 1980s. It stood the sanctions and still retained its identity. US did not like it and US administration decided to destroy Iraq and it did. The most important part of this comment is - 'It stood the sanctions and still retained its identity'. Similar situations existed for India. In 1974, when India detonated Atom Bomb , sanctions were imposed. It repeated in 1999 while sanctions were operative. The western powers did not know how to stop India as India will never be effected by any amount of sanctions. So US and its allies are catching India thr' Indo US Deal. This is an attempt by the nuclear powers to weaken India by every possible means. The deal is not for Energy security for India. Why should US be interested for raising the standards for Indians.

5. US wants India to limit its missile production as a next step. India is going have missile capability of over 4000 km while US missile from their ship will never have this capacity on board meaning therby that US ships will never be in a position to attack India.
6. US wants to enter India the way he has engrossed in Pakistan.

In short the deal is not for the benefits foe India. It is better if it is rejected ab initio.

Anonymous said...

1. In reality, this deal is all about the economic benefits US MNCs will derive via nuclear reactor sales to India. Just look at how many GE and WestingHouse reps are flying into India to know more.
2. The game now is to ensure that enough conditions are imposed on other prospective countries ( like Russia and France ) so that US companies have a leg up in such sales. Since such conditions can only be imposed via NSG, a clean exemption for India is just a mirage.
3. A little research will indicate that the countries raising serious objections ( basically a bunch of european minnows with NZ ) have covert support from China. Just yesterday the reps of these 6 countries were seen hobnobbing with the Chinese rep. China is the only major country that will be negatively affected by this Indo-US deal and that exactly is in US geopolitical interests.

Anonymous said...

The NPT itself is flawed. It calls for a nuclear weapon free world, but the P-5 can keep their nuclear weapons!! If you look at Indian's neighbours, Pakistan and China, both have nuclear weapons (pakistan with China's help). India has fought wars with both the countries in the past, and it is well known that they are "enemies" of India. That's the reason it became imperative for India to have nuclear weapons.

We do not have any problem with a nuclear free world, infact the dicussions for a nuclear free world was started by JawahalaLal Nehre, Indian Prime minister in 1954 itself. What we want is that, all countries, including USA, UK, France, Russia and China should also destroy their nuclear weapons. If this happens, Indian would be the first country to forego its nuclear arsenal..

The nuclear deal is important because India needs energy. If it doesn't get uranium, It'll continue with gasoline, which will raise global fuel costs. Also, India might go to other countries, including Iran for its energy need in return of, maybe, nuclear technology

Anonymous said...

Now that the NSG has approved the US-India deal, I would like to make a personal appeal ( for however insignificant it may be ) to Mr. Darryl Kimball first and also to all ACA employees.

1. The ACA may want to refocus its attention to issues that affect the United States first and then to proliferation efforts. When both presidential candidates are proclaiming "America First", it made little sense for the ACA to doggedly support policies that are detrimental to the United States.

2. US geopolitical interests are extremely important right now. We risk the likes of China and Russia becoming power centers rivalling the US and that is NOT acceptable. Please do not miss the forest by focussing on the trees

Anonymous said...

I think it is good that the NSG has provided a clean, unconditional waiver for India. India has been a very responsible nonproliferator and will continue to do so.

The topic of nonproliferation has been very badly diluted by those backers of it who have not acted against the countries that have proliferated. It would be wise for institutes like the Arms Control to invest most of their efforts is punishing those that have proliferated.

Naradar said...

In the interest of a green environment India does need access to nuclear technology. The NSG waiver is a positive step in this direction. However, Hindus in India suffer from an inherent inferiority complex and look at nuclear power as a kind of proclamation of their manhood. In addition, eons of domination by Muslims and colonial powers makes Hindus yearn for recognition as a global power. Strict monitoring of India’s nuclear establishment including trade with nations like Niger, Ukraine must accompany the transfer of any technology. In essence, juts as in Pakistan, The keys to India’s nuclear castle must rest with the USA. This should be possible since the coterie of scientists that run India’s nuclear establishment are USA centric with monetary and family connections which they will not forfeit. Purchasing Hindus is the easiest way of maintaining control.

Anonymous said...

The world will not find a better partner than India with respect to proliferation.

The non-proliferation community would better spend their time pontificating to those that have already proliferated. Note that since nothing really has been done, they can still proliferate. China in specific needs very close monitoring IMHO of course. This is where the non-proliferation community has failed - rather badly.

With respect to Indian nuclear community, they are unique - these deals will allow them to better their product set, but let this be clear, they will not need to replace them with an imported one. An imported reactor will only support the on-going efforts in the civilian segment.

IF anyone wants India to either not test or reduce her strategic assets, the best way to achieve that end is to have China eliminate hers.

The strategic dynamics in India are only China oriented, Pakistan being an extension of the Chinese strategic game plan. IF this simple relationship is either not understood or deliberately misquoted Indian can do nothing about her strategic assets.

Thanks in advance.

Kishor Patel said...

Mr Kimball - I fail to understand why you keep comparing Iran and North Korea into India / US Nuclear Deal. First, both those countries are signatories to the Treaty and India is not. NPT was solely created to prevent India being the 6th Nuclear Power, and it has been treated like 'lower caste', instead of being equal. It is the largest democracy, one of the oldest civilzation that contributed to current world cultural richness and 20% of the world population. You can simply not compare India to North Korea and Iran, by any measure.

Kishor Patel said...

Mr Kimball - I fail to understand why you keep comparing Iran and North Korea with India in this India / US Nuclear Deal. First, both those countries are signatories to the NPT and bound by it, while India never signed it as it was flawed. NPT was mainly created to prevent India being the 6th Nuclear Power, and it treat it like 'Aparthied', instead of being treated equal. It is the largest democracy (20% of the world population), one of the oldest civilzation that contributed to current world cultural richness, reason Columbus found America and if not accepted part of Nuclear Club, very dangerous as it was on verge of nuclear technology break-throughs, which it can trade outside NSG control. You can simply not compare India to North Korea and Iran, by any measure. India is Technology creator (40% of Silicon Valley IT is Indian), whilst Iran and North Korea are known Technology pirates... Dont you get it?

Daryl G. Kimball said...

Dear readers:

It is helpful to read about your perspectives, particularly those that are critical of this particular editorial piece.

I admire the sense of pride in India that many of you express. I agree that India is a great country, thought that is not because of, but rather despite its nuclear weapons and nuclear history.

There are too many points here to respond to each of them, but I would encourage those of you who seem to believe ACA is only interested in the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal to peruse the years of issues of Arms Control Today and other reports, analyses, and Focus editorials to understand better what ACA is about and what my personal perspectives are.

You will find that ACA has been deeply concerned and deeply involved in addressing a wide range of weapons related security problems and is an equal opportunity advocate of arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament. Our main issue has been and will continue to be to improve U.S. policies and leadership to reduce the risks of the world's most dangerous weapons, beginning those here in the United States.

- DK

Anonymous said...

India has nuclear weapons and in my opinion must retain nuclear weapons in future for its security and nothing else. It will not spread them around , as it has already proved so. Beyond that those do not like should get used to it.

Dr. Amit K. Maitra said...

It has been refreshing to read the U.S. foreign policy establishment’s recent statements, which urged China, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and New Zealand to support the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal. The U.S.-India Nuclear Deal is one of the most notable instances of a foreign policy initiative based on factual, rational, and pragmatic geopolitical considerations. President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice single-mindedly pursued this deal and refused to be influenced by the arguments put forth by emotional hysterics whose views are not only far removed from reality, but also lack strategic insight.

The deal has been developed with careful consideration given to the history, political tradition, and the energy-environment-political policy choices of the Indian leadership. In recent days, President Bush’s foreign policy advisors have repeatedly asserted that the biggest threats to the international anti-proliferation regime have actually come from NPT signatories—Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and Libya—in collaboration with another non-signatory, Pakistan. Those opposing the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal often write as though India is actively engaged in proliferating nuclear technology by collaborating with rogue states. For example, articles such as “Put the Brakes on India’s Nukes,” the blather published by Kingston Reif of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, August 30, 2008, are not only short-sighted, but are also based on faulty logic and erroneous and misleading socio-political-economic rationale. Such articles often deliberately and intentionally portray India as a country that is not honorable and trustworthy as a strategic partner.

The differentiating factor between these journalists and so-called policy experts on one hand and Bush-Rice on the other hand is that the latter are strategic thinkers. They can take the high road, look far into the future, and bring dissenting partners into their fold to create a world order that is stable, sustainable, and harmonious. That is the mark of their leadership. American foreign policy advisors’ oft quoted point, “Having India as a member of the weapons club strengthens diplomatic opposition to Iran and other miscreants. Refusing to recognize her as such keeps her out in the cold, and does nothing to address the Irans of the world“ is right on the mark.

By far, the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal is one of the best orchestrated foreign policy initiatives of our time. I join the rest of India and the world in applauding President Bush and Secretary Rice for their honest, straightforward, and far-sighted political-economic-strategic insight. I also applaud Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress Chairperson Sonya Gandhi, and Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee for their fundamental belief that this deal is good for India and for their steadfastness in seeing the deal through, despite serious opposition from leftist parties. The different between the members of Indian leftist parties and Prime Minister Singh is that the former always talk about doing things to improve the condition of the country, whereas Manmohan Singh and his government actually do things that promise peace, prosperity, jobs, and security for Americans and Indians alike. I offer them my heartiest congratulations for a job well done.

Tim said...

Whats most disturbing is the hypocracy and the disregard for international law and agreements. Maybe India does have a good record, but the fact of the matter is they have not signed the only international agreement to indicate that, not matter how flawed it may be. This is a crucial issue if we are to build international peace. Its frustrating how the US etc push international compliance when it comes to things like trade, but not with things like this. I am an Australian, and I am very disappointed my government supported this, when just a few months back they rejected a deal to provide uranium to India because they had not signed the NPT. I wonder what we are getting in return? An open door to revisit our deal?