Thursday, August 16, 2007

PM Statement in LS on Indo-US Nuke Deal

PM’s statement in the Lok Sabha on Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation with the United States

New Delhi, August 13, 2007

Excerpts from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement on August 13 in the Lok Sabha on Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation with the United States. This is a preliminary transcript that is yet to be corrected and matched with the Official transcription from the Lok Sabha:

I rise to inform this august House that the Government of India has reached agreement with the Government of the United States of America on the text of the bilateral Agreement on Cooperation for Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy.

This Government has kept Parliament fully in the picture at various stages of our negotiations with the United States. We have never shied away from a full discussion in Parliament on this important issue. I have myself made statements on several previous occasions — on July 29, 2005 soon after my return from Washington; on February 27, 2006 during which I took Parliament into confidence regarding our ongoing discussions with the United States on the Separation Plan; and on March 7, 2006 following the visit of President Bush to India. I also made a detailed statement in the Rajya Sabha on August 17, 2006 conveying certain solemn commitments to which I shall return shortly…

There has been considerable public debate and discussion on various aspects of the Agreement. On August 17, 2006, I had given a solemn commitment to Parliament and to the country regarding what we can agree and cannot agree with the United States to enable civil nuclear energy cooperation with India. I had stressed that it must be within specific parameters, which I had shared with Parliament. This was an unprecedented measure of transparency on our part even in the midst of complex negotiations.

I had given Parliament my assurance that the Government will make every effort so that the vision of the Joint Statements of July 2005 and March 2006 becomes a living reality. I believe that we have redeemed that pledge. In concluding this Agreement, we have ensured that the autonomy of our strategic programme is fully maintained, and that Dr. Homi Bhabha’s long-term vision remains our guiding principle.

With your permission, I wish to draw the attention of this august House to the main features of the Agreement in some detail. It would become evident that the commitments I had made to Parliament, including those on August 17, 2006, have been fully adhered to.

(i) Full Civil Nuclear Cooperation:

The concept of full civil nuclear cooperation has been clearly enshrined in this Agreement. The Agreement stipulates that such cooperation will include nuclear reactors and aspects of the associated nuclear fuel cycle, including technology transfer on industrial or commercial scale. It would also include development of a strategic reserve of nuclear fuel to guard against any disruption of supply over the lifetime of our reactors.

A significant aspect of the Agreement is our right to reprocess US origin spent fuel. This has been secured upfront. We view our right to reprocess as a key element of a closed fuel cycle, which will enable us to make full use in our national facilities of the energy potential of the nuclear fuel used in our reactors. This important yardstick has been met by the permanent consent for India to reprocess.

India will establish a new national reprocessing facility dedicated to reprocessing foreign nuclear material under IAEA safeguards. India and the US will mutually agree on arrangements and procedures under which such reprocessing will take place in the new facility. Consultations on arrangements and procedures will begin within six months of a request by either party and will be concluded within one year. There is no ambiguity with regard to the commitments of both countries.

Any special fissionable material that may be separated may be utilised in national facilities under IAEA safeguards. Thus the interests of our three stage nuclear programme have been protected.

The United States has a longstanding policy of not supplying to any country enrichment, reprocessing and heavy water production facilities. This Agreement provides for such transfers to India only through an amendment. Forward-looking language has been included for dual use transfers of enrichment, reprocessing and heavy water production facilities. We hope transfers will become possible as cooperation develops and expands in the future. It is important to note that no prohibition that is specifically directed against India has been included in the Agreement.

(ii) The Principle of Reciprocity:

The principle of reciprocity, which was integral to the July 2005 Statement, has been fully safeguarded in this Agreement. There is no change in our position that we would accept only IAEA safeguards on our civilian nuclear facilities. This would also be in a phased manner and as identified for that purpose in the Separation Plan, and only when all international restrictions on nuclear trade with India have been lifted. India will not take any irreversible steps with the IAEA prior to this.

(iii) Certification:

This Agreement emphasises the desire of both countries to cooperate extensively in the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes as a means of achieving energy security on a stable, reliable and predictable basis. This Agreement further confirms that US cooperation with India is a permanent one.

There is no provision that states that US cooperation with India will be subject to an annual certification process.

Hon’ble Members may recall that the 18th July 2005 Joint Statement had acknowledged that India be regarded as a state with advanced nuclear technology enjoying the same advantages and benefits as other States with advanced nuclear technology, such as the US. This Agreement makes specific references to India and the United States as States possessing advanced nuclear technology, both parties having the same benefits and advantages, both committed to preventing WMD proliferation.

(iv) Safeguards:

As agreed in the March Separation Plan, India has accepted only IAEA safeguards that will be reflected in an India-specific Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA.

We have not consented to any provision that mandates scrutiny of our nuclear weapons programme or any unsafeguarded nuclear facilities. There are explicit provisions in the Agreement that make it clear that this Agreement does not affect our unsafeguarded nuclear facilities and that it will not affect our right to use materials, equipment, information or technology acquired or developed independently. India and the United States have agreed that the implementation of the Agreement will not hinder or otherwise interfere with India’s nuclear activities including our military nuclear facilities. Nothing in the Agreement would impinge on our strategic programme, our three-stage nuclear power programme or our ability to conduct advanced R&D.

(v) Fuel Supply Assurances:

I would like to reiterate that the March 2006 Separation Plan provided for an India-specific Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, with assurances of uninterrupted supply of fuel to reactors that would be placed under IAEA safeguards together with India’s right to take corrective measures in the event fuel supplies are interrupted. An important assurance given is the commitment of support for India’s right to build up strategic reserves of nuclear fuel to meet the lifetime requirements of India’s reactors.

This Agreement envisages, in consonance with the Separation Plan, US support for an Indian effort to develop a strategic reserve of nuclear fuel to guard against any disruption of supply for the lifetime of India’s reactors. The Agreement reiterates in toto the corresponding portions of the Separation Plan.

It has endorsed the right of India to take corrective measures to ensure uninterrupted operation of its civilian nuclear reactors in the event of disruption of foreign fuel supply.

Hon’ble Members will agree that these provisions will ensure that there is no repeat of our unfortunate experience with Tarapur.

(vi) Integrity and reliability of our strategic programme, autonomy of decision making and future scientific research and development:

In my statements of March 7 and August 17, 2006, I had assured Parliament that the Separation Plan would not adversely affect our strategic programme, the integrity of the three-stage nuclear programme and the autonomy of our Research and Development activity.

This Agreement does not in any way impact on India’s ability to produce and utilise fissile material for its current and future strategic needs.

Our right to use for our own purposes our independent and indigenously developed nuclear facilities has been fully preserved. The Agreement also provides for non-hindrance and non-interference in our activities involving use of nuclear material, non-nuclear material, equipment, components, information or technology and military nuclear facilities produced, acquired or developed independently for our own purposes.

(vii) Cessation of cooperation:

An elaborate multi-layered consultation process has been included with regard to any future events that may be cited as a reason by either Party to seek cessation of cooperation or termination of the Agreement. Both Parties have agreed to take a number of factors into account in their consultations so that the scope for precipitate or unilateral action is reduced.

Cessation of cooperation can be sought by the US only if it is prepared to take the extreme step of termination of the Agreement. India’s right to take “corrective measures” will be maintained even after the termination of the Agreement.

In the case of termination of this Agreement and cessation of cooperation by either Party, each has the right to seek return of nuclear material and equipment supplied by it to the other. However, before the right of return is exercised, the Agreement commits the parties to consult and to take into account specific factors such as national security, ongoing contracts and projects, compensation at market value, physical protection and environmental issues. India and the United States have agreed to consider carefully the circumstances that may lead to termination, including a party’s concerns about a change in the security environment or a response to similar actions by other states that could impact on national security.

The Agreement stipulates that the two parties recognise that exercising the right of return would have profound implications and consequences for their relations.

From India’s point of view our primary objective is to ensure the uninterrupted operation of our nuclear reactors, in the context of the detailed fuel supply assurances provided in the Separation Plan and these are now reflected in full in the Agreement. The Agreement specifically states in regard to fuel supply assurances and India’s right to take “corrective measures” that there will be no derogation of India’s rights in this regard, including the right to take “corrective measures” to ensure the uninterrupted operation of its reactors. This reflects the balance of obligations consistent with the understandings of the July Statement and the March Separation Plan.

Among the significant and innovative features of this Agreement are specific mention of the right to run foreign supplied reactors ‘without interruption’ and to take ‘corrective measures’ in the event of fuel supply disruption. This has been made possible by crafting the provisions in a manner that provide for explicit linkages and interlocking of rights and commitments contained in the Agreement.

The Agreement does not in any way affect India’s right to undertake future nuclear tests, if it is necessary in India’s national interest. Let me hence reiterate once again that a decision to undertake a future nuclear test would be our sovereign decision, one that rests solely with the Government. There is nothing in the Agreement that would tie the hands of a future Government or legally constrain its options to protect India’s security and defence needs.

If I might sum up, this Agreement does not in any way inhibit, restrict or curtail our strategic autonomy or capabilities. Our rights to pursue our three-stage nuclear power programme remain undiluted.

In the unlikely event of cessation of cooperation there is no derogation of our rights with regard to corrective measures. Our reprocessing rights are upfront and are permanent in nature. Advanced R&D programmes and IPR Protection are fully safeguarded…

In discussions on this subject, questions have been raised about Government’s commitment to an independent foreign policy. I have clearly spelt out the Government’s position in this regard in my statements to Parliament in March and August 2006. I had specially underlined that the pursuit of a foreign policy that is independent in its judgment is a legacy of our founding fathers and an abiding commitment of my Government. India is too large and too important a country to have the independence of its foreign policy taken away by any power.

Today, India stands on the world stage as an influential and respected member of the international community. There is independence in our thought and independence in our actions.

I would like to reiterate that our engagement today with all global powers like US, Russia, China, EU, UK, France, Germany and Japan is unprecedented. Engagement with West, East, South East and Central Asia has been significantly stepped up with visible results. We are building new frontiers in our ties with Africa and Latin America. In South Asia we seek to develop a peaceful environment, one that is conducive to ambitious developmental targets. I urge those who question our commitment to an independent foreign policy to display the same degree of confidence in India, as others from outside do.

Thus, there is no question that we will ever compromise, in any manner, our independent foreign policy. We shall retain our strategic autonomy.

At the same time, we must not forget India’s long-standing commitment to the noble ideas of nuclear disarmament and our refusal to participate in any arms race, including a nuclear arms race. Our commitment to universal, non-discriminatory and total elimination of nuclear weapons remains undiminished. It was this vision of a world free of nuclear weapons which Shri Rajiv Gandhi put before the UN in 1988 and this still has universal resonance.

We remain committed to a voluntary, unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing. We are also committed to negotiate a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty or FMCT in the Conference on Disarmament. India is willing to join only a non-discriminatory, multilaterally negotiated, and internationally verifiable FMCT, as and when it is concluded in the Conference on Disarmament, subject to it meeting our national security interests.

Despite changes in government and changes in political leadership we have always tempered the exercise of our strategic autonomy with a sense of global responsibility and with a commitment to the ideals of general and complete disarmament, including global nuclear disarmament. This Government believes that our commitment to these ideals and our efforts to realise them must continue, and continue with even greater vigour, now that we are a nuclear weapon state. The possession of nuclear weapons only increases our sense of responsibility and does not diminish it.

Pending global nuclear disarmament, India has maintained an impeccable non-proliferation record. As a responsible nuclear power, India will not be the source of proliferation of sensitive technologies. We stand for the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime as the infirmities in this regime have affected our security interests. We will work together with the international community to advance our common objective of non-proliferation.

There are now other landmarks to cross before the goal of India joining the international mainstream as a full and equal partner becomes a reality. We have to finalise an India-specific Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA. Thereafter, the Nuclear Suppliers Group has to agree, by consensus, to adapt its guidelines, we expect without conditions, to enable nuclear commerce with India and to dismantle the restrictions on the transfer of dual use technologies and items to our country. The US Administration is to secure requisite approval from the US Congress. The completion of these next steps will mark the practical realisation of this initiative…

This historic initiative has received the steadfast support of President Bush and senior members of his Administration. The strengthening and enhancement of our bilateral relations is an objective that has received his unstinting personal support and commitment. This Agreement is a shining example of how far we have progressed.

Finally, Sir, let me end by saying that we have achieved an Agreement that is good for India, and good for the world. I am neither given to exaggeration nor am I known to be self-congratulatory. I will let history judge; I will let posterity judge the value of what we have done through this Agreement. In days to come it will be seen that it is not just the United States but nations across the world that wish to arrive at a new equilibrium in their relations with India. This agreement with the United States will open new doors in capitals across the world. It is another step in our journey to regain our due place in global councils. When future generations look back, they will come to acknowledge the significance of this historic deal


Indo-US Nuke Deal Agreement in THE HINDU:

Put the nuclear deal on hold

For a mild-mannered Prime Minister who leads a government dependent on external support for survival, Manmohan Singh is demonstrating obduracy of a strange and unreasonable kind. His current posture of ‘I-must-have-the-nuclear-deal-or-I-go’ suggests that the political objective of completing the elected term of the United Progressive Alliance regime has been subordinated to the greater goal of seeing the deal through. And herein lies a fatal contradiction. The guaranteed way of sinking the civilian nuclear deal, which this newspaper has editorially endorsed with some caveats, is for the government to go down, taking the 123 with it. What should be clear to anyone who is not on a high horse, with blinkers, is that given the deep political polarisation there is little chance of any other Prime Minister or government making a go of this deal in the conceivable future.

For at least two years now, Dr. Singh has been passionate in his conviction that the civilian nuclear deal he initiated with President George Bush in July 2005 was not just in the interest of India’s nuclear programme, which had suffered from a harsh international regime of sanctions and technology denial; it was a supreme national necessity because “nuclear power is critical to our energy security if we want to be a world power” (as he put it in a recent interview). This conviction has been, by the Prime Minister’s own admission, linked to the ideological belief that the United States wanted to help India become a great power; that “of all the U.S. Presidents,” George Bush was “the friendliest towards India”; and that “in a globalised world, Indo-U.S. relations were the key and we needed to give them the highest importance.” But the UPA government finds itself in a hopeless minority in Parliament on this critical issue. There is also considerable opposition outside Parliament, with the community of scientists and the intelligentsia divided down the middle and the public mood uncertain.

“A Country is Not a Company,” argued Paul Krugman in a celebrated 1996 paper published in the Harvard Business Review. He made the point that “the style of thinking necessary for economic analysis is very different from that which leads to success in business” and further that a failure to understand this can lead to disastrous mistakes. The economist in Dr. Singh needs to realise that arguments drawing from ‘decarbonising the economy’ exercises done in the Planning Commission combining with ill-founded ambitions of becoming a great power by becoming the sole superpower’s camp follower are likely to flop in the democratic political arena. It may be perfectly true that the Bharatiya Janata Party is the co-progenitor of this nuclear deal. But the reality is that the principal opposition party has aggressively attacked the deal as a sell-out of national interests, and specifically of the country’s ambition of developing “a minimum credible nuclear deterrent.” Its leaders are salivating at the thought of this Congress-led regime falling on so sensitive an issue. As important politically is the nature of opposition from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and its left partners whose bloc of 61 MPs provide life support for the UPA government. The CPI(M) has made it clear that it has serious problems with some of the specifics of the 123 read along with the Hyde Act and has asked the government not to go ahead even with the next step towards operationalisation. But its larger political objection is that the nuclear deal is part of a strategic alliance with the U.S. encompassing political, economic, and military aspects; and therefore has “adverse consequences for an independent foreign policy, sovereignty, and the economic interests of the people.” And the Manmohan Singh regime knows it will get no quarter from the recently formed ‘third force’ bloc, the UNPA.

So for reasons analogous to why a country is not a company, this minority government must understand the difference between economic and technical analysis — which, in the eyes of critics, basically relies on showing how nuclear power’s 3 per cent contribution to India’s overall energy production can be raised to 7 per cent by 2020 — and what makes for sustainable political success. Non-transparency, which has been in evidence for much of the time this nuclear deal has been in process, has taken its toll of political and public support; and unprincipled compromises such as the U.S.-coerced ganging up against Iran in the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency and deepening military relations with the U.S. have had their influence on political perceptions of the 123 agreement.

The way to resolve the present political crisis is for the UPA government to put the 123 on hold, and for the Congress party and its allies to persuade Prime Minister Singh, who continues to command wide respect in India and abroad, not to be inflexible. The government can pursue the deal by scheduling an earnest round of all-party discussions, which must take in objections, apprehensions, reservations, and questions relating to the nuclear deal that have come from all serious quarters. False notions of prestige and credibility, within India and internationally, must not be allowed to come in the way of this larger political necessity. There is nothing sacrosanct about the timeline indicated for the final three steps in the nuclear deal. President Bill Clinton did not resign or even go into a deep sulk when one of his key projects, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, was rejected 51-48 by the U.S. Senate in October 1999. The CTBT — which opened for signature more than a decade ago and has been signed by 177 countries and ratified by 139 of them — has not yet been enabled to enter into force but there are hopes of reviving it. Heavens will not fall if the 123 agreement is put on hold and all the issues opened up for discussion. There is a risk that it may fall by the wayside but that is clearly worth taking, especially if the risk is measured against the virtual certainty of the nuclear deal being buried if the UPA government falls.

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