Agenda for Nuclear Diplomacy


It has been years that India has been trying to resolve the issues in the way of Indian Nuclear interests. India signed the IAEA Additional Protocol on March 15, 2009. It was one of the several steps of the implementation of the 2008 India-US Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. Though the Additional Protocol has designed for the Nuclear power states, India successfully moulded it to suit her interest. However, the protocol remained pending for ratification, due to other urgent matters. The protocol was finally announced ratified by the new Indian PM Narendra Modi on June 22, 2014.

History of Additional Protocol

The genesis of the Additional Protocol lies in the period of end of cold war, when the possibility of a nuclear exchange between the two superpowers diminished. However another concern emerged in the form of a possibility of proliferation of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear states. This could have been a serious threat to the global peace. In 1993, IAEA began to search for ways to tackle with this problem. The search continued for 2 years, and is often referred to as 93+2.

IAEA had already been watching the parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). All nuclear activity in these countries were monitored thoroughly to ensure that it was used only for peaceful purposes. The monitoring of the 5 nuclear weapon states, of USA, UK, Russia, France and China, could not be done due to certain technicalities. Thus, these 5 nuclear powers worked out an understanding with the IAEA and voluntarily placed some of their civilian facilities under a much looser IAEA safeguards agreement. It might not be effective, but was a sign of political goodwill.

The 93+2 exercise gave birth to the model of Additional Protocol. However, the principles behind the Additional Protocol were different. It was intended to reassure that there was no clandestine nuclear activity undertaken. The purpose of the protocol was to strengthen and expand the existing safeguards regime applicable to the non-nuclear weapons states. The measures of supervision included- remote monitoring and analysis, environmental sampling to detect traces of radioactivity, and inspections without notice. Further, the scope of declaratory activities relating to the nuclear fuel cycle were broadened, thresholds to trigger inspections were lowered, and imports and exports of dual-use items came under scrutiny.

Most of these development came in mainly due to the developments in Iran, North Korea and Libya. However, the 5 nuclear powers saved themselves from the Additional Protocol by giving the excuse of national security, and volunteered themselves to conclude an Additional Protocol, to some extend, with the IAEA.

Indian Interests

With the tightening of controls and checks, India’s access to nuclear power was severely restricted. After the 1998 nuclear tests, and declaration of India as a nuclear weapon state, it became urgent and necessary to demonstrate India’s faith in nuclear non-proliferation. After a series of dialogues, France and US showed some interest in Indian proposals.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh carried forward the task of Atal Behari Vajpai. The breakthrough came in July 2005 when, during Manmohan Singh’s visit to USA, it was announced that US would work to achieve full civil nuclear energy cooperation with India. In turn, India agreed to take on the same responsibilities and practices and acquire the same benefits and advantages as other leading countries with advanced nuclear technology. These responsibilities included the signing of the Additional Protocol of the IAEA.

However, not being a party to the NPT, India was not subject to the full safeguards of the IAEA. But nuclear reactors set with international cooperation, at Tarapur-1 and 2, and Kudankulam-1 and 2, were subject to the IAEA’s facility specific safeguards.

As per the 2005 undertaking, it was tecitly understood that as a nuclear weapon state, India would keep some of its facilities out of safeguards for national security reasons, and thus, there would be a difference in the Model Additional Protocol (adopted by non-nuclear weapon states) and the customised Additional Protocol, which would apply in case of India.

Modi government, by ratifying the Additional Protocol, has showed that nuclear diplomacy is a priority. The focus of the government should also shift towards solving the ambiguities of the 2010 Nuclear Liability Law. Without this task, India would only be able to import nuclear fuel for the existing power plants. It will not be able to undertake the much-needed expansion of the nuclear power sector. There is a need to do away with the ambiguities in the law.

The Indian Nuclear Liability law of 2010, brings in the concept of supplier liability. This may not be consistent with the existing practices, though is in consistency with the contemporary times. Genuine efforts need to be made to address the concerns of the suppliers.

The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver has allowed India to import nuclear fuel from multiple sources and improve capacity utilisation in nuclear power plants, but the ambiguities of the Nuclea Liability Law are creating roadblocks for the government.

Courtesy: The Hindu

Team Aspirant Forum

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9 responses to “Agenda for Nuclear Diplomacy”

  1. Zarnish says :

    If a state is so much in to taking leverages by the international nuclear supplying regimes then it must have to cooperate with international rules and regulations. Otherwise we cannot mould the international norms and standards according to our own interests. Despite of this India is not implementing additional protocol to majority of its power plants shows it irresponsible behavior and arrogance towards international non proliferation body. Being an international member responsibility lies with every member that it must cooperate and try to reinforce non-proliferation norms for the peace and stability of globe.

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    • aspirantforum says :

      India is not implementing the Additional Protocol, as it is one of the nuclear weapon states. the security of the nation is at stake, and that is why India does not allow the scrutiny of all its nuclear power plants. India is doing what other nuclear weapon states does, and even the nuclear powers have no major objections with this.
      the main point is that India has ratified the additional protocol with certain terms attached. It might not be the solution to the nuclear diplomacy, but surely is a step towards it.

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  2. Helen Mishra says :

    India has well coined the card of its famous diplomacy in nuclear domain. Standing strict on NPT, it played well its cards in such an efficient manner that it enjoys full benefits despite of being non-NPT member. So, there is no need left for India to sign NPT. Nuclear Diplomacy is the only channels which have been established after Modi. Because, it is only sector which has PM attention, rest of India lives in disarray as no signs of development and prosperity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • aspirantforum says :

      You have mentioned two issues:
      1. Right, that India has played her cards well in the nuclear diplomacy. But such diplomacy has been continued since years now. Modi is effectively carrying it forward. It seems that the international community has recognised the special role and position of India. The freedom that India has receieved in the recent times is no less than that given to the superpowers, like US.
      2. Abuot the issues of lack of development and prosperity in India, it is a debatable issue. We shall not expect a government, whether of NDA or UPA, to bring major changes in the country in such a small span of time. the issues related to development needs great effort and brain-storming, and would take, atleast, a few years. What we can best do is wait and watch, while also participating in all political processes.

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      • helen mishra says :

        Let say if we are successful in nuclear diplomacy; than we should also work out on nuclear accords like NPT, FMCT, CTBT. Nuclear Diplomacy was not successful in Japanese case. Every one knows Australia has its national interest with India. In addition, there is another perspective of implications for South Asia particularly and nuclear proliferation at large in case if every state goes for its national interest of nuclear cooperation? A question to all arms accords and non proliferation norms? Apart from nuclear, human security is becoming a biggest dilemma as it is deteriorating socio economic sectors. Yes time is required but doesnt it all go with a matter of priority in objectives of government in case when there are somewhat violent anti-nuclear moves in country?

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        • aspirantforum says :

          What is the need of adhering to the NPT or CTBT if the interests are being served. Like US and other major powers, India has found a position where she is able to mould the terms of peace and negotiation. You are write when you mention the point about Japan. But we have take into consideration the historical and political background of Japan. India, on the other hand, have never put such threat to the world peace, and thus enjoys a good record.
          No doubt that human security is the ultimate issue but Indian nuclear diplomacy is peaceful and for civilian purpose. We should focus on the prospects of the nuclear energy for peaceful purpose, while also be cautious of the consequences that it might have.

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  3. Aazar Kund says :

    Non-proliferation is a top agenda item when it comes to Pakistan, Iran or North Korea, but it is an inoperable standard when it is India or Israel. The commencement of nuclear trade with India – first by Washington in 2008 and currently by Canberra – has immense repercussions. It will profoundly upset the proliferation equation for other countries in the region. India-Australia nuclear deal will aggravate India-Pakistan nuclear rivalry and exacerbate Pakistan’s security dilemma. Now global nuclear watchdog should realize the severity of the situation created by Indian blind derive on nuclear path.

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  4. Rajiv says :

    In 2008, India entered into a nuclear cooperation deal with the U.S. that gave it access to nuclear technology and fuel. In return, India promised to hire U.S. firms to expand India’s nuclear power generation capacity, but the U.S. has yet to secure an exemption from its commitment to the multinational body Nuclear Suppliers Group to make this possible. Carving out exceptions for individual countries is an obvious but controversial solution to the dilemma. Regrettably, exceptions can become precedents for even more exceptions.

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  5. Anjali Sharma says :

    In India proliferation issue is a major concern and being the largest importer of arms and missiles it can start a nuclear war in South Asia. India has Uranium mines on which it is operating covert enrichment operations, even IAEA protocols are initiated but still 14 Indian nuclear power plants are not under IAEA watchdog that has resulted in stockpiling the nuclear waste material and doubling the number of nuclear warheads. Our situation is worse than Pakistan and China.

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