In­dia’s civil nu­clear power & US sup­port?

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION - S Qa­mar A Rizvi Email: rizvipeac­ere­searcher@gmail.com

IN the af­ter­math of US pres­i­dent Obama’s visit to In­dia in Jan­uary 2015 , there ap­pears new de­vel­op­ments re­gard­ing the ex­pan­sion of In­dian nu­clear power pro­gramme, which of­fers se­ri­ous de­lib­er­a­tions. Though ap­par­ently the course of these de­vel­op­ment comes within the frame of civil nu­clear en­ergy, yet there is grow­ing con­cern in the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity that on the pre­text of ex­pand­ing its civil nu­clear power Pro­gramme, In­dia may man­u­fac­ture more fis­sile ma­te­rial that can be used in the ar­ma­ment of other nu­clear weapons.

Since the US- In­dia nu­clear deal signed in 2006, there have been se­ri­ous con­cerns in the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity about the har­row­ing reper­cus­sions of this con­tro­ver­sial deal- sub­se­quently en­dorsed by US pres­i­dent Obama’s last year visit to In­dia. At this crit­i­cal junc­ture, where the call of nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment is get­ting pace day by day, the US back­ing to In­dia ex­poses the West­ern dou­ble stan­dard on the nu­clear pol­icy. The on­go­ing ex­pan­sion in In­dian civil nu­clear pro­gramme with­out ful­fill­ing the IAEA’s safe­guards poses a big ques­tion mark on the trans­parency mech­a­nism of this ex­pan­sion.

Un­der the pro­posed deal, In­dia would sep­a­rate its mil­i­tary and civil­ian nu­clear re­ac­tors, and place many— but not all— of its civil­ian nu­clear re­ac­tors un­der In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency ( IAEA) safe­guards. Mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties, and stock­piles of nu­clear fuel that In­dia has pro­duced up to now, will not be sub­ject to in­spec­tions or safe­guards. Mean­while, the US will be al­lowed to build nu­clear re­ac­tors in In­dia, and pro­vide In­dia with nu­clear fuel for its civil­ian re­ac­tors.

Un­der the pro­posed deal, In­dia would sep­a­rate its mil­i­tary and civil­ian nu­clear re­ac­tors, and place many— but not all— of its civil­ian nu­clear re­ac­tors un­der In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency ( IAEA) safe­guards. Mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties, and stock­piles of nu­clear fuel that In­dia has pro­duced up to now, will not be sub­ject to in­spec­tions or safe­guards. Mean­while, the US will be al­lowed to build nu­clear re­ac­tors in In­dia, and pro­vide In­dia with nu­clear fuel for its civil­ian re­ac­tors.

The space co­op­er­a­tion as­pect of the deal could re­sult in trans­fers of tech­nol­ogy and ex­per­tise rel­e­vant to nu­clear mis­sile de­vel­op­ment. For ex­am­ple, In­dia will use its rocket Chan­drayaan- 1, which has pre­vi­ously been used to launch satel­lites into or­bit, for its un­manned mis­sion to the moon. Ex­perts have long warned that the same rocket could also be armed with a nu­clear war­head and turned into an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile ( ICBM). The meth­ods for in­te­grat­ing pay­loads into space ve­hi­cles, which US en­gi­neers will as­sist In­dian en­gi­neers in do­ing for the joint lu­nar mis­sion, are also rel­e­vant to in­te­grat­ing mul­ti­ple nu­clear war­heads into ICBMs. US as­sis­tance on In­dian civil­ian space ex­plo­ration ven­tures could help In­dia de­velop the know- how for fur­ther de­vel­op­ing its bal­lis­tic mis­sile ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

The deal vi­o­lates Ar­ti­cle I of the nu­clear Non- Pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty ( NPT), which states that “Each nu­clear- weapon State Party to the Treaty un­der­takes not to trans­fer to any re­cip­i­ent what­so­ever nu­clear weapons or other nu­clear ex­plo­sive de­vices or con­trol over such weapons or ex­plo­sive de­vices di­rectly, or in­di­rectly; and not in any way to as­sist, en­cour­age, or in­duce any non- nu­clear- weapon State to man­u­fac­ture or oth­er­wise ac­quire nu­clear weapons or other nu­clear ex­plo­sive de­vices, or con­trol over such weapons or ex­plo­sive de­vices.”

The deal also vi­o­lates other po­si­tions agreed upon by con­sen­sus by NPT mem­bers, in­clud­ing a 1995 agree­ment on prin­ci­ples and ob­jec­tives for nu­clear non- pro­lif­er­a­tion and dis­ar­ma­ment, which states, “New sup­ply ar­range­ments for the trans­fer of source or spe­cial fis­sion­able ma­te­rial or equip­ment or ma­te­rial es­pe­cially de­signed or pre­pared for the pro­cess­ing, use or pro­duc­tion of spe­cial fis­sion­able ma­te­rial to non- nu­clear- weapon States should re­quire, as a nec­es­sary pre­con­di­tion, ac­cep­tance of the Agency’s full- scope safe­guards and in­ter­na­tion­ally legally bind­ing com­mit­ments not to ac­quire nu­clear weapons or other nu­clear ex­plo­sive de­vices.”

It also con­tra­venes United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion 1172 of 1998, which calls for In­dia and Pak­istan to “im­me­di­ately to stop their nu­clear weapon de­vel­op­ment pro­grams... and any fur­ther pro­duc­tion of fis­sile ma­te­rial for nu­clear weapons,” and en­cour­ages all States to pre­vent the ex­port of equip­ment, ma­te­ri­als or tech­nol­ogy that could in any way as­sist pro­grammes in In­dia or Pak­istan for nu­clear weapons or for bal­lis­tic mis­siles ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing such weapons, and wel­comes na­tional poli­cies adopted and de­clared in this re­spect.”

In re­sponse to the pro­posed USIn­dia deal, Pak­istan’s Na­tional Command Au­thor­ity stated that its “cred­i­ble min­i­mum de­ter­rence re­quire­ments” will con­tinue to be met, in­di­cat­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of an ex­pan­sion of fis­sile ma­te­ri­als stock­piles in Pak­istan. Both In­dia and Pak­istan’s stocks, how­ever, al­ready far ex­ceed fis­sile ma­te­rial re­quire­ments for a “min­i­mal” nu­clear arse­nal. China’s re­sponse will likely be sim­i­lar if the deal goes through. The space co­op­er­a­tion el­e­ment of the deal pro­vides In­dia with op­por­tu­nity to in­crease its mis­sile tech­nol­ogy ex­per­tise. This in turn could lead to an in­crease in quan­tity and qual­ity of its de­liv­ery sys­tems, to which its neigh­bours would surely re­spond.

US in­volve­ment in East and South Asia fea­tures poli­cies of se­lec­tively favour­ing or op­pos­ing nu­clear ac­tiv­i­ties that strongly af­fects the re­gions’ strate­gic bal­ances. For ex­am­ple, the geostrate­gic ben­e­fits of us­ing In­dia to as­sert its in­ter­ests in Asia is likely one of the pri­mary ra­tio­nales be­hind this deal for the US. For­mer RAND Cor­po­ra­tion an­a­lyst Ash­ley Tel­lis says, “ac­com­mo­dat­ing In­dia on the is­sue of nu­clear co­op­er­a­tion” would “but­tress its po­ten­tial util­ity as a hedge against a ris­ing China” and “en­cour­age it to pur­sue eco­nomic and strate­gic poli­cies aligned with US in­ter­ests,” help­ing to “shape the Asian environment in a way that suits our in­ter­ests.”

I have ar­gued in my piece, pub­lished in the World Re­view ( Ex­pan­sion of In­dia’s civil nu­clear pro­gramme is bad omen for peace) “It also high­lights West­ern dou­ble stan­dards: it is no se­cret that the West has put pres­sure on Iran to fol­low the IAEA pro­to­col re­gard­ing the UN nu­clear watch­dog’s in­spec­tion pro­ce­dure. How­ever, In­dia has en­tered into no le­gal bind­ings re­gard­ing its nu­clear ac­tiv­i­ties and has not even signed the Fis­sile Ma­te­rial Cut- Off Treaty ( FMCT), and is free to ex­pand its nu­clear pro­gramme. For the world’s 137 de­vel­op­ing na­tions, In­dia’s un­jus­ti­fied nu­clear muscling pro­vides no com­fort for they think their quest for a civil­ian nu­clear en­ergy pro­gramme is be­ing ex­ploited by P5.

The deal thus rep­re­sents a step back­wards for non- pro­lif­er­a­tion and dis­ar­ma­ment: it al­lows for an in­crease in nu­clear weapons, fis­sile ma­te­ri­als, and de­liv­ery sys­tems, and the re­sump­tion of nu­clear test­ing. It un­der­mines the NPT at a time when the regime is fac­ing other crises and needs sup­port to re­tain its cred­i­bil­ity and func­tion­al­ity. The deal in­di­cates the in­ten­tion of US and In­dia to de­velop such a strate­gic re­la­tion­ship, which is detri­men­tal to in­ter­na­tional se­cu­rity be­cause it is be­ing es­tab­lished in an environment of mis­trust and geopo­lit­i­cal ten­sions in South Asian re­gion, and is in clear vi­o­la­tion of the spirit and let­ter of in­ter­na­tional law and in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions.

The IAEA’s es­tab­lished safe­guards should be used to pro­vide a mean­ing­ful as­sur­ance to all states with­out any se­lec­tive favouritism, that el­e­ments of In­dia’s civil­ian nu­clear buildup, par­tic­u­larly those that are be­ing sup­ported by in­ter­na­tional nu­clear sup­pli­ers. It is here that In­dia should take the re­spon­si­bil­ity of main­tain­ing its nu­clear power in­dus­try un­der per­ma­nent IAEA safe­guards’ guide­line mon­i­tor­ing and in­spec­tion cri­te­ria. — The writer is an in­de­pen­dent IR re­searcher based in Karachi.

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