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The India Safeguards Agreement: Moving India Towards the Nonproliferation Mainstream

Gregory L. Schulte, Ambassador, U.S. Permanent Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United
Remarks to the India Safeguards Agreement: Moving India Towards the Nonproliferation Mainstream
London, England
July 24, 2008

In eight days, on August 1, the IAEA Board of Governors is scheduled to meet in Vienna to consider a draft Safeguards Agreement for India. The agreement was carefully negotiated, by the IAEA Secretariat, which has recommended it for approval. It is a solid agreement, following an approved IAEA safeguards approach. It deserves the Board's full endorsement.

The Safeguards Agreement is a key step in implementing the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative. This historic initiative was welcomed by IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei as:“a milestone, timely for ongoing efforts to consolidate the nonproliferation regime, combat nuclear terrorism, and strengthen nuclear safety.”

Implementing the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative and allowing civil nuclear cooperation between India and interested countries in Europe and elsewhere has three main benefits:

• bringing India into the nuclear nonproliferation mainstream;

• helping India meet its growing energy needs while protecting the environment; and

• deepening the strategic partnership between our many countries and India.

I would like to expand on each of the three benefits of the initiative, then talk about the draft Safeguards Agreement itself. Bringing India into the Nuclear Nonproliferation Mainstream is a key benefit of the initiative. India has four operating nuclear power reactors under IAEA safeguards today. Under the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative, India has committed to separate its military and civil activities and submit its entire civil program to international inspection.  Under this plan, India will place under voluntarily safeguards a majority of its existing and planned nuclear power reactors (14 of 22) and all its future civil reactors.

Within a generation, it is estimated that nearly 90 percent of India's reactors will be under IAEA safeguards. This means they will be dedicated to peaceful uses and prohibited from contributing to nuclear weapons. In addition to putting additional facilities under IAEA safeguards, India has committed to:
• sign and adhere to an Additional Protocol with respect to its civil nuclear facilities;

• create a robust national export control system that includes harmonization and adherence to the Missile Technology Control Regime and Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines;

• refrain from transfers of enrichment and reprocessing technologies to states that do not already possess them and support efforts to limit their spread;

• work with the U.S. to conclude a multilateral Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty; and

• continue its unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing.

By themselves, each of India’s commitments is significant. Collectively, they will constitute a significant gain for nonproliferation.  Helping India meets its growing energy needs, while protecting the environment is the second benefit of the initiative.

As a country with one-sixth of the world's population and a rapidly growing economy, India has an enormous appetite for energy.  Because it has been constrained by sanctions, India's civil nuclear sector accounts today for less than 3% of electricity generation.  India's government aims to increase India's nuclear power capacity to reach up to 25% of electricity supply by mid century.  Nuclear energy is clean energy. It does not produce carbon dioxide or other "greenhouse" gases. Today the vast majority of India's electricity is produced with coal.  This is a major reason why India is emerging as one of the world's largest producers of greenhouse gases.  According to one expert, India's nuclear energy plans, by displacing coal, would avoid an estimated 130 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. Everyone worried about global warming should be an ardent supporter of helping India meet its energy requirements with clean, safeguarded, civil nuclear power.

Deepening the strategic partnership between many countries and India is the third benefit of the initiative. The rise of a democratic and increasingly prosperous India represents a singularly positive development in world affairs.  The United States, the European Union, and other like-minded countries aim to develop an entirely new relationship with India, a relationship founded on cooperation rather than denial. India is a stabilizing force in the world.  We share an abundance of political, economic, and security interests. Our open societies face similar threats from terrorism and organized crime. Our market-based economies embrace trade and commerce as engines of prosperity.  We share an attachment to democracy and individual rights. And trade, education and travel are bringing our societies together as never before.

Listen to India's Prime Minister Singh: "Nowhere else will you find a country of India's diversity, of India's complexity, one billion people trying to seek their social and economic salvation in the framework of a democracy, in the framework of an open economy." Helping India generate electricity for growth and development, while acknowledging its commitments on safeguards and nonproliferation, is part of transforming global relations with this large and vibrant democracy.  Dr. ElBaradei has observed that India is: "treated as a valued partner, a trusted contributor to international peace and security. It is difficult to understand the logic that could continue to carve out civil nuclear energy as the single area of noncooperation."

We agree.

A Solid Safeguards Agreement

The draft Safeguards Agreement presented to the IAEA Board on July 9 was carefully negotiated by IAEA safeguards and legal experts following the safeguards approach in INFCIRC/66.

This is the approved IAEA safeguards system appropriate for states like India not under NPT full-scope safeguards. Under the draft agreement, we would expect that safeguards on civil nuclear facilities in India would resemble very closely those applied to other such facilities around the world.  The Secretariat recommends that the Board authorize the Director General to sign the agreement. We hope that the Board will do so on August 1.  The Board's approval is important but in many ways also routine. The draft follows standard safeguards practice, and the Board has approved over 170 other safeguards agreements. According to the IAEA Secretariat, all were approved routinely, and all were approved by consensus. After the Board's approval, the United States will work with the Nuclear Suppliers Group to reach consensus on an India-specific exception that would allow members to engage in civil nuclear cooperation with India.  Cooperation between the United States and India will then require a final approval by the U.S. Congress.

Serving the Interests of India and the International Community

In conclusion, the course we are taking offers important benefits to India and the world. It will bring India into the nuclear nonproliferation mainstream. It will help India meet its growing energy needs while protecting the environment. It will deepen the strategic partnerships between many countries and India.  Dr. ElBaradei said this well in welcoming the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative:  "This agreement is an important step towards satisfying India's growing need for energy, including nuclear technology and fuel, as an engine for development. It would also bring India closer as an important partner in the non-proliferation regime.  It would be a milestone, timely for ongoing efforts to consolidate the non-proliferation regime, combat nuclear terrorism and strengthen nuclear safety... This agreement would serve the interest of both India and the international community."

Once again, we agree.


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