Siddharth Varadarajan

Journalist | Writer | Analyst

India files nuclear separation plan with IAEA

Following persistent questioning by countries like Canada about the absence of any specific facilities in the Indian draft ssafeguards agreement, a copy of the Indian nuclear separation plan has been submitted to the IAEA and circulated to all member states as an official document of the agency. Indian officials say this is part of the process of seeking the Board of Governors’ approval, and that the briefing conducted by the IAEA Secretariat for IAEA members went smoothly…

28 July 2008
The Hindu

India files nuclear separation plan with IAEA
Move a response to queries about safeguards agreement

Siddharth Varadarajan

NEW DELHI: India has filed a copy of its plan for the separation of civilian and military nuclear facilities with the International Atomic Energy Agency as part of the process for getting its safeguards agreement approved by the nuclear watchdog’s Board of Governors on August 1.

The document — as tabled in Parliament by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 11 May 2006 — was published on Friday by the IAEA secretariat as Infcirc/731 and circulated to all member states.

In a note verbale included with the plan, the Permanent Mission of India in Vienna said it was the “government of India’s intention to move forward in accordance with the provisions of the [India-specific safeguards agreement] after its entry into force.”

According to Indian officials, the decision formally to circulate the separation plan is linked to the questions a number of IAEA members have raised in briefings by India and the Secretariat about the fact that the draft safeguards agreement does not list any specific facilities to be safeguarded.

As per the provisions of the draft, only those Indian facilities listed in the annex will be subject to Agency safeguards. The annex is at present blank and will be filled only after India negotiates fuel supply arrangements for each facility to be safeguarded and files a separate declaration and notification to that effect at some point in the future.

During the briefing conducted by the Secretariat for IAEA members on July 25, countries such as Canada asked when and how this annex would be populated.

The circulation of the Indian separation plan which lists 14 specific thermal power reactors to be offered for safeguards between 2006 and 2014 is intended to clear the air on this issue.

The Hindu has learned that the July 25 briefing was a “smooth affair” with Secretariat officials providing clarifications on a number of issues to a handful of member states. Among the countries which had queries were Canada, Norway, Ireland and Sweden. One of the clarifications sought was on the meaning of “corrective measures.” According to officials, the Secretariat staff noted that these measures are meant to ensure the uninterrupted supply of fuel for the reactors India offers for safeguards “and are not to be confused with termination conditions, which are spelt out in paragraphs 29 and 32 of the safeguards agreement and which are standard.” There were no separate queries on termination.

The Pakistani representative asked only one question about whether the Indian agreement could “be a precedent” for other non-parties to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). The Secretariat replied that it would be a “good precedent,” since the concept of an “umbrella agreement” for multiple facilities was an improvement over separate Infcirc/66 agreements for standalone facilities.

[Since this article went to press, I have learned that the Secretariat’s representative, Vilmos Cserveny, also said that if Pakistan were to negotiate bilateral or multilateral agreements of the kind India had, a similar umbrella agreement could be drawn up whose approval would be up to the Board of Governors].

According to official sources, Department of Atomic Energy chairman Anil Kakodkar will also travel to Vienna for the August 1 IAEA BoG meeting. While he may attend the board meeting in his capacity as an alternate governor, India’s governor is Ambassador Saurbah Kumar and the rules allow for an alternate to also be present — the main purpose of his visit will be to have discussions with IAEA Director-General Mohammed el-Baradei on an Additional Protocol to accompany the Indian safeguards agreement.

In the July 2005 agreement with the U.S., India had undertaken to sign and adhere to an additional protocol with the IAEA in respect to its civilian nuclear facilities. The Hyde Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in December 2006 said one of the determinations the U.S. President must make before allowing nuclear commerce with India is that the country has made “substantial progress” towards concluding such a protocol.

(In an earlier version of this story, March 11, 2006 was inadvertently mentioned as the date when the Indian separation plan was tabled in Parliament)

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This entry was posted on July 28, 2008 by in Nuclear Issues.

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