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.
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