Siddharth Varadarajan

Journalist | Writer | Analyst

IAEA safeguards grant India nuclear weapons status: Pakistan

Pakistan has upped the ante in Vienna by asking members of the IAEA Board of Governors to join it in moving amendments to the Indian safeguards agreement when the matter comes up for consideration on August 1…

Pakistani delegation relaxing before the start of an IAEA session

24 July 2008
The Hindu

IAEA safeguards grant India nuclear weapons status: Pakistan
May move amendments to draft in Board meeting

Siddharth Varadarajan

New Delhi: In a four-page letter addressed to Board members of the IAEA, Pakistan has attacked the draft Indian safeguards agreement for envisaging termination conditions and fuel supply arrangements which could allow India to “divert part of [any imported] fuel for weapons purposes.”

At the same time, it said that the Indian model should not be “discriminatory” and should be applied to states such as itself.

[I have uploaded the letter as a PDF file here.]

Pakistan is a member of the 35-strong Board of Governors. The letter, written by its Ambassador to the IAEA, Shahbaz, was sent out on July 18, though the Indian mission in Vienna has yet to formally receive a copy. A similar letter was circulated by Pakistan’s Ambassador to the U.N., Munir Akram, on July 15. The BoG will meet August 1 to consider the Indian agreement.

Apart from raising procedural objections to the convening of a Board of Governors meeting at short notice, Pakistan is strongly opposing a number of specific provisions in the agreement. It says both the BoG and the Nuclear Suppliers Group should “carefully weigh the consequences that may ensue from succumbing to ‘expediency’ over ‘principles’” if the “drive to steamroll”this agreement was not “resisted.”

In particular, it urges Board members to “join it in seeking appropriate amendments to the agreement when it is considered in the BoG.”

According to Indian officials, Pakistan has sounded a number of BoG members on the possibility of putting the Indian draft to a vote on August 1 rather than approving it by consensus. Though indications are that so far the Pakistani proposal does not have takers, Islamabad would be within its rights to call for a division when the Board meets.

Ambassador Shahbaz’s letter, a copy of which is with The Hindu, says a “disturbing feature” of the agreement is the reference in the Preamble to a phrase from the Indo-U.S. statement of July 2005 “specifically [noting] India’s ‘willingness’ to ‘identify and separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities.’ Thus, the IAEA Board is being asked to recognise and accept India’s nuclear weapons status,” the letter says.

The Pakistani envoy’s missive demands that this preambular reference be deleted because it runs counter to the purpose of IAEA safeguards and “is in itself unique, as similar provisions do not exist in other such agreements.”

Curiously, though the letter condemns the Indian safeguards agreement on proliferation grounds, it argues that Pakistan should be afforded the same treatment. In one place, it warns the BoG that the Indian text “is likely to set a precedent for other states which are not members of the NPT and have military nuclear programmes.” But elsewhere, it also demands that “any safeguards agreement adopted by the BoG in respect of India should be available as a model for other non-NPT states.”

Among Pakistan’s other objections: – “Despite India’s refusal to place its Breeder Reactors and Thorium-based programme under safeguards, the draft recognises India’s three-stage nuclear programme. This is gratuitous legitimisation of potential nuclear proliferation and contrary to the IAEA’s objectives.”

– The draft contains “ambiguous provisions regarding conditions for the termination of the Safeguards Agreement,” provides India access to international fuel markets and provides for “unspecified ‘corrective measures’ which India would be allowed to take to ‘ensure uninterrupted operation of its civilian reactors.” This contravenes “the continuation of IAEA safeguards in perpetuity.”

– “The agreement may indeed provide an incentive to India to conduct further nuclear weapons testing, since future termination of the Safeguards Agreement, after India has built up an adequate fuel reserve, would resolve India’s problems relating to the shortage of nuclear material for both its civilian and nuclear weapons programme.”

Pakistan has also objected to the reference in the agreement to “a restricted document, GOV/1621” and said the BoG “cannot approve an Agreement with secret clauses.” It was vital, it said, for the conditions for termination of safeguards to be “expressly incorporated.” [In fact, GOV/1621 is available to all IAEA member states and has also been published in a 1985 book].

Criticising the IAEA draft for not providing for termination of peaceful nuclear cooperation in the event of a nuclear test by India, Pakistan said the agreement “threatens to increase the chances of a nuclear arms race in the sub-continent.”

The Pakistani letter says IAEA rules prevent the Indian agreement from being considered “at the earliest, 45 days later, i.e. 25 August 2008” and that “the political expediencies of either India or the U.S. are not sufficient reason” for “the 45 day rule” to be waived.

Indian and IAEA officials told The Hindu the 45 day rule was not “hard and fast” and that several safeguards agreements have been approved in less time. According to sources, Pakistan’s safeguards agreement for the Chashma reactor was itself cleared within 48 hours of the text being circulated to the Board in November 2006.

During the recent visit to Delhi by Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, the Indian side sounded Pakistan out on its objections to the safeguards agreement. Mr. Bashir said there was “nothing personal” in Islamabad’s stand and that the country was acting in its own national interest.

One comment on “IAEA safeguards grant India nuclear weapons status: Pakistan

  1. Anonymous
    July 24, 2008

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This entry was posted on July 24, 2008 by in Nuclear Issues.



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