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Home > News > Specials

The Rediff Special

'India got more than what N-weapons states get'

August 03, 2007

Manoj Joshi is a senior journalist and former member of the National Security Advisory Board.

Given below are the excerpts of his quick analysis of the just-released 123 Agreement that will help make operational the civil nuclear deal between India and the United States.

The assurances of fuel supply are contained in Sections 5.6 2.2b and 5.4.

They belie the claim made by critics that any amendment by the US Congress would somehow prevent the US from making these assurances.

On reprocessing, the fear that the US will string us along has been belied by the specific commitment that negotiations will begin within six months of an Indian request, and they be completed within a year thereafter.

Coverage: The Indo-US nuclear tango

The consequences of nuclear testing are in Section 14 and they are not absolute, but are conditioned by circumstances and the impact on Indian security.

Section 14.3 belies the claim that the US will terminate or slow down cooperation based on foreign policy divergence.

This section says that only a material breach of the agreement, as determined by the IAEA board, will lead to either termination or even a slowing down of the flow; in other words, there will be no capricious termination.

About the US having the right to ask for return of fuel and equipment or technology, it is clear that it will be through a consultative process and conditioned by the need for uninterrupted operation of reactors.

It will also provide for compensation, and Section 14.8 ensures that it will not be in derogation of Section 5.6 (supply assurances).

The agreement will not hinder India's strategic programme. The related clause provides that the "purpose of this agreement is to provide peaceful nuclear cooperation and not to affect the un-safeguarded nuclear activities of either party."

So the agreement cannot be interpreted to affect either India's indigenous programme, or military programme. (This also gives the government political cover).

Critics claimed the US could use the fallback safeguards to conduct inspections of Indian facilities. But the determination that the IAEA is indeed unable to do so would be made by the IAEA alone, and by no other party.

And should this happen, the supplier and the recipient will consult to agree on "appropriate verification measures".

Lastly, there is the nuclear trade -- the one area that is qualified. While Section 5.1 provides for nuclear materials, including low enriched uranium, Section 5.2 says that "sensitive nuclear technology" which means reprocessing, enrichment and heavy water production technology and certain critical components for such facilities will require an amendment to the 123.

While some may see this as falling short of Indian demands, the provision is actually more than what other Nuclear Weapons States get.

Manoj joshi spoke to Sheela Bhatt


The Rediff Specials



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