Friday, July 31, 2009

My letter to the Prime Minister

Sent on July 30

On 29th July, while replying the debate in the Lok Sabha on your recent foreign visit, dealing with the reports about G8 on Enrichment and Reprocessing Technologies (ENR) to countries which have not signed the NPT, which interalia include India, you had assured that India has a clean waiver and that full nuclear cooperation will result from the 123 agreement. You had also informed the Lok Sabha that French President had told you that France was prepared to enter in to nuclear commerce with India. But several reports raise some apprehensions which need to be cleared by the Government and the Scientists participating in the negotiations.

The G8 L’Aquila statement on Non –Proliferation states:

1- The Universalisation and reinforcement of the non – proliferation regime remains an urgent priority. We call upon all states still not party to the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), to accede without delay.

2- We underscore that the NPT remains the cornerstone of the nuclear non proliferation regime.

To reduce the proliferation risks associated with the spread of enrichment and reprocessing facilities, equipment and technology, we welcome the progress that continues to be made by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on mechanisms to strengthen controls on transfers of such enrichment and reprocessing items and technology. While noting that the NSG has not yet reached consensus on this issue, we agree that the NSG discussions have yielded useful and constructive proposals contained in the NSG’s “clean text" developed at the 20 November 2008 consultative group meeting. Pending completion of work in the NSG, we agree to implement this text on a national basis in the next year. We urge the NSG to accelerate its work and swiftly reach consensus this year to allow for global implementation of a strengthened mechanism on transfers of enrichment and reprocessing facilities, equipment, and technology.

Obviously the intention is to deny ENR technologies to non –NPT countries.

Responding to the G-8, statement Shri Pranab Mukherji told the Rajya Sabha this year on July 13, “ We have got a clean waiver and not concerned over the position of the G-8 countries, so far as the civil nuclear cooperation is concerned the appropriate agency is the IAEA and the 45 member NSG”.

Perhaps Mr. Mukherji forgot that the G 8 members include both France and Russia the Countries which have the enrichment and reprocessing technologies and they are also the members of the NSG . Once they support the contents of para 8 above in G-8 how can they oppose the same in the plenary of the NSG?

The issue is whether India made any attempt to see that both Russia and France don’t support the dilution of the principle of “ full civil nuclear cooperation’ Whatever interpretation Mr. Mukherji or the Government of India may like to have the fact is that the adoption of the G-8 text prevents India to procure ENR items both from France and Russia.

It may be recalled that as early as March 2008, the NSG members discussed a statement to be adopted at the plenary meeting which said that the participating Governments of the Nuclear supplier group’

Desire to contribute to the effectiveness and integrity of the global non- proliferation regime, and to the widest possible implementation of the provisions and objectives of the Treaty on the Non –Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Seek to avert the further spread of Nuclear weapons.

Wish to pursue mechanisms to affect positively the non-proliferation commitment and action of all states outside the nuclear non- proliferation regime.

Refraining from transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies to states that do not have them and supporting international efforts to limit their spread.

Harmonizing its export control lists and guidelines with those of the Nuclear Suppliers group and committing to adhere to the nuclear suppliers group guidelines.

The statement further says that:

In order to facilitate India’s adherence to INFCIRC/254/part 1 and 2 and to remain current in its implementation of the guidelines, the NSG chair is requested to review proposed amendments to the Guidelines with India and inform the plenary of the outcome of the dialogue with India. Participation of India in the decisions regarding proposed amendments will facilitate their effective implementation by India .

Now the question is what was the outcome of this review and what was India’s stand during the review and what was the outcome of the dialogue?

The October 2008 “US – India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and non-proliferation enhancement Act” to ratify the 123 deal paved the way for a downturn by Bush administration the significance of the ratification legislation sections 204(a) and 204(c) lies in the fact that the provision helped turn the Bush administration political assurance on working for NSG ban into a requirement by law.

Let us look at the Presidential determination to Congress dated 10 September 2008: President Bush stated:

That the 123 Agreement “ does not permit transfers of any restricted data. Sensitive nuclear technology, heavy-water production technology and production facilities, sensitive nuclear facilities, and major critical components of such facilities may not be transferred under the agreement unless the agreement is amended”(emphasis added).

The state department’s letter of January 2008 responding to 45 congressional questions was released in August 2008. I would like to know whether Government of India had seen this letter and if so what action was taken. It is all the more serious if it was not seen by our negotiators.

The letter affirms the “U.S. government will not assist India in the design, construction or operation of sensitive nuclear technologies through the transfer of dual-use items, whether under the agreement or outside the agreement .” It categorically ruled out the US transfer of civil reprocessing and enrichment equipment or technologies to India even under safeguards. The letter suggested that “the hope enshrined in article 5(2) of the 123 agreement of a future amendment to permit sensitive transfers was merely intended to help the Indian government save face in public. The administration does not plan to negotiate an amendment to the proposed U.S.- India agreement to transfer to India sensitive nuclear facilities or critical components of such facilities," it stated flatly. While the letter made plain that “ US will not assist India in the design, construction or operation of sensitive nuclear technologies through the transfer of dual- use items, whether under the agreement or outside the agreement,” the PM had told the Parliament that the deal “will open up new opportunities for trade in dual-use high technologies.”

I would like to know whether in the light of the above any action was taken by the Government of India. If it is correct that the agreement of a future amendment to permit sensitive transfers was merely intended to help the Indian Government save face in public, and if we had let it go like this then this is most disgraceful. The Government has brought shame of the worst kind by keeping mum on this and concealing it from the Parliament.

The statement of Daryl G. Kimball, Arms Control Association Executive Director, dated 1st October 2008, on the US- Indian agreement for Nuclear cooperation says:

The US-Indian agreement for nuclear cooperation is, nonetheless, a nonproliferation disaster. Contrary to the counterfactual claims of proponents and apologists, its does not bring India into the “non- proliferation mainstream” and India’s so called separation plan is not credible from a non- proliferation perspective:

In exchange for quick house approval of the India agreement, however, secretary of state Condoleeza Rice acknowledged the NSG loophole in a personal commitment to Horward Berman (D- Calif) chair of the house committee on Foreign Affairs. Rice promised that the United States will make its “highest priority” to achieve a decision at the next NSG meeting to prohibit the export of enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technology to states that are not party to the NPT.

In November 2008, meeting of the NSG cartel, new draft rules emerged which were fully supported by the U.S., these rules under the “revised paragraph 6and 7 of INFCIRC 254/part 1,lists seven criteria that must be fulfilled before an NSG member authorizes the supply of ENR facilities equipment and technology.

According to the report in Hindu by Siddhartha Varadarajan a copy of the confidential text obtained by the Arms Control Association (ACA) and accessed by the Hindu the very first of these criteria, numbered 6(a)(i) is that the recipient must be “a party to the treaty on the non- proliferation of nuclear weapons and is in full compliance with its obligations under the treaty”

The report further says that though the draft was introduced by the Bush administration, the Obama administration got the G-8 to begin implementing it on a national basis recently. If this draft is approved by NSG formally ENR technologies will be debarred to India.

In the context of the conditions imposed by parts 1 and 2 of INFCIRC 254/part 1, does this mean that India will also be willing to sign the NPT to avail these technologies?

Does the Government of India have any access to INFCIRC 254/ part 1? If yes then what was done by our negotiators to get it amended properly. If not then it is extremely poor diplomacy.

Chairman DAE Anil Kakodkar opened the USIBC-NEI commercial nuclear mission to India meeting on January 15,2009 saying that he felt “betrayed” by US policy supporting a ban on enrichment and reprocessing technology (ENR) in the nuclear suppliers group (NSG) saying that it looked to be “directly targeting India” by requiring signature of the non- proliferation treaty (NPT). He added “the long term relationship we are developing is not consistent with this kind of negative development.

Recall that the limited and sole purpose of the India –US deal was to allow the export of nuclear REACTORS by the US to India and not to aid India in developing advanced technology even if it means that India will be saddled with tons of nuclear waste in the absence of a large scale reprocessing plant required for the purpose.

Based on these recent reports, the smoke and mirrors show around the negotiations concerning reprocessing appears to be to eventually corner the country into signing the NPT (as a non weapons state) as the key condition for India receiving cooperation on ENR. This would effectively take care of the requirement that India “sign a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA” which it cannot do as long as it has a weapons programme.

On May 5, 2009, Mr. Rose Gottenmoeller, Assistant Secretary of State, USA, while speaking at the third session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty Review Conference said, "We must redouble our efforts to update IAEA safeguard technologies . . . . . . . Universal adherence to the NPT itself – including by India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea – also remains the fundamental objective of the United States".

Mr. Prime Minister, in the light of the foregoing developments, it appears that there is a strong possibility of denial of ENR technologies to India. In any case we have come out extremely poorly in handling nuclear diplomacy.

My other worry is that in the absence of ENR technology, India would ultimately become the dumping ground for the huge nuclear waste.

Another aspect which disturbs me is the very poor status of the thorium programme. With limited commercial reprocessing plants to extract plutonium, more FBRs cannot be built. This will seriously impinge upon our future development of thorium reactors. The fact that budgetary allotments for nuclear programme in general and in particular for thorium programme are highly inadequate and the uncertainty regarding availability of ENR technologies, I have serious apprehensions regarding the fast development of our civil and military nuclear programmes.

Mr. Prime Minister, I am afraid that the letter has taken more space than what I intended to give it, but the seriousness of the issue which has a far reaching effect on our economy, security and geostrategic environment and scientific research, I have taken your time. Please assure the country that India would not sign NPT and would not allow Thorium programme to be killed.

I would once again request you to take a very close view on what is happening and is likely to happen in this highly sensitive domain which is central in so many ways to our future.

With regards,

Yours sincerely,

(Murli Manohar Joshi)