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India’s civil nuclear commerce: a foreign policy context July 23, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Weigold, Auriol , comments closed

Auriol Weigold

Media headlines tell the story of India’s wide appeal as a strategic level partner since the negotiations on the Indo-US Civilian Nuclear Agreement made way for the legitimisation of India’s status as a nuclear power.

Since the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) granted India a waiver in September 2008, allowing it to engage in nuclear commerce without signing either the NPT or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (the only country to be able to do so), the IAEA’s requirements are in place and the almost-final sticking point, the reprocessing agreements, have been finalised. This leaves only India’s Nuclear Liability Act outstanding, affecting civilian American nuclear start-ups at already identified sites.

While the U.S. set the process of resuming global nuclear engagement with India in train, India has civil nuclear energy agreements in place with a number of other countries including Argentina, France, Kazakhstan, Namibia, and the U.K. (more…)

Clinton ‘reads the riot act’ to Pakistan July 21, 2010

Posted by sandygordon in : Afghanistan, Gordon, Sandy, India, Pakistan , comments closed

Sandy Gordon

We all know that the US is balancing on a very high wire concerning its South Asia policy, caught between its long-term strategic interests with India and its shorter-term need of Pakistani support for the war in Afghanistan.

Given these circumstances, some of the outspoken comments made by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during and immediately after her recent Pakistan visit are interesting.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani


“Operationalizing” the Indo-US nuclear agreement May 26, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Weigold, Auriol , comments closed

Auriol Weigold

India and the United States have ironed out their remaining differences over the reprocessing of US-originated spent nuclear fuel amidst much activity on nuclear matters.

These activities included the Washington Nuclear Summit in mid-April, closely followed by the Iranian conference, “Nuclear energy for All, Nuclear Weapons for None” (which India also attended), together with the release of the Nuclear Posture Review and the US-Russia Nuclear Agreement.

At a time of such activity, and with the 2010 NPT Review Conference now under way, was this, at last, the final step in the reprocessing saga? Compromise on the remaining contentious part of the 123 Agreement had stalled in early March 2010, but by the end of the month India and the United States announced that they had come to agreement on a nuclear reprocessing facility in India, expected to draw to a close the lengthy negotiations on an Indo-US nuclear agreement initiated during the Bush Administration.

The agreement to grant India consent to reprocess spent fuel was described as a “significant step forward for US-India commercial nuclear cooperation” (Arun Kumar, IANS, in Business News, 29 Mar 2010).The Times of India on 29 March and Reuters on the following day reported the agreement on procedures under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, another piece in the jigsaw puzzle that makes up the bilateral civilian nuclear pact, but each article recognized that it was not the end of the road for American commercial interests. (more…)

Are more than ‘weasel-words’ holding up the Indo-US nuclear agreement? March 12, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Weigold, Auriol , comments closed

Auriol Weigold

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assures us that key differences in the spent fuel reprocessing and storage negotiations have been resolved and all that remains to do is to  ‘dot the i’s and cross the t’s’.

Some six months ago negotiations around words acceptable to both India and the United States on reprocessing were a problem, and progress appeared to be mired in technical complexities. The Indian Express reported early in 2010 that while India had made it clear it would not accept additional commitments made outside the Section 123 template it had agreed to, the United States had sought to import non-proliferation assurances that would be in line with its Atomic Agency Act. (more…)

Improving prospects of India-Australia nuclear co-operation January 5, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Guest authors, India , comments closed

Guest author: Rahul Mishra

This article first appeared on the IDSA website on 24 December 2009.

Indications are that not only India will get ‘yellowcake’ from Australia, which has the world’s largest uranium resources, but it might also get a parallel position equivalent to that of a ‘Nuclear Weapon State’ so that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is reinvigorated. The report of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Eliminating Nuclear Threats – A Practical Agenda for Global Policymakers, released last month, offers a cue in this regard.

The Commission was set up in 2008 by the Australian and Japanese Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Yasuo Fukuda in Kyoto. Chaired by former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans and former Japanese foreign minister Yoriko Kawaguchi, the commission’s aim is to make the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference a success. The report says that the “three Elephants” outside the NPT (as India, Pakistan and Israel are called in the report) will not become party to the treaty and that “every effort should be made to achieve their participation in parallel instruments and arrangements which apply equivalent non-proliferation and disarmament obligations”.

This, indeed, is a welcome suggestion, which will not only prove valuable in saving the NPT but will also help India meet its energy requirements. Asserting the need to devise specific mechanisms to include India, Gareth Evans wrote in The Age, the leading Australian daily, that “It’s self-evidently rather quixotic for Australia to be maintaining a ban on the sale of uranium until India joins the NPT when manifestly it is not going to join the NPT and manifestly this is not going to stop it acquiring uranium from other sources.”


Indo-US nuclear agreement in slow motion: is reprocessing an issue? September 21, 2009

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Weigold, Auriol , comments closed

Auriol Weigold

“Indo-US nuclear deal plays out in slow motion” was a Times of India headline in mid-June this year and still appears to be the case.

There was an expectation that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to India in late July would see an announcement bringing close to fruition the Indo-US nuclear agreement and, meeting in part that expectation, a US-India Defence Pact was signed in New Delhi on 20 July.

This still left resolution on an issue of some contention for both sides – agreement on procedures for the reprocessing of spent fuel of American origin on Indian soil – still apparently not yet resolved. The first consultation took place in late July and the next stages are, perhaps optimistically, expected to be over in two months, so that the implementation of the 123 Agreement can start somewhere near the given timeframe.

July 2005 when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George Bush signed the initial statement on promised cooperation in civilian nuclear energy between their countries is now a long time ago, and has seen Bush lose office but Singh endorsed for a second electoral term.


India: two mysteries and a funeral September 14, 2009

Posted by sandygordon in : Gordon, Sandy, India , comments closed

Sandy Gordon

As India mourns the death of the highly successful and popular Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, two recent events have set conspiracy theorists’ tongues wagging.  In one case, a North Korean vessel, MV San, was interdicted by India in Indian waters 65 nautical miles off Port Blair.  Its manifest claimed its cargo of sugar to be en route for Iraq.  But to get to Iraq, the vessel would have taken a different route after leaving the Straits of Malacca.  For some reason it sailed into the Andaman Sea.

The vessel was seized by the Indian navy and searched under the recent UN Resolution on North Korean nuclear activities.  Nothing of an incriminating nature was initially found.  So the vessel was taken to the Indian mainland for off-loading in order to conduct a thorough search.

Accepting that no nuclear materials are likely to be found, there are several other possible explanations.


Central Port Blair.  Photo: Henryk Kotowski, Wikipedia Commons (more…)

Renewed tension on the India-China border: who’s to blame? September 3, 2009

Posted by southasiamasala in : Bhutan, Guest authors , comments closed

Guest Author: Neville Maxwell, ANU

This contribution first appeared on our sister web site, East Asia Forum.

‘So solidly built into our consciousness is the concept that China is conducting a rapacious and belligerent foreign policy that whenever a dispute arises in which China is involved she is instantly assumed to have provoked it.’ — Felix Greene 1965.

India is heavily reinforcing its Army and Air Force units on its undefined border with China (two additional infantry divisions, a squadron of attack aircraft, refurbishing airfields etc). This is in breach of the parties’ obligation under a 1993 Sino-Indian treaty to keep force levels in border areas to ‘a minimum level compatible with … friendly and good neighbourly relations’, and Beijing has protested angrily and publicly.


Indian military parade


Indian Ocean: why not all ‘rise on the same tide’? September 1, 2009

Posted by sandygordon in : Gordon, Sandy, India , comments closed

Sandy Gordon

The launch of India’s indigenously built Arihant (‘destroyer of enemies’) nuclear-powered, missile capable submarine is, perhaps, the first shot in an extended naval competition in the Indian Ocean.  Arihant is part of a nuclear ‘triad’ that is designed to give India a second strike capability against China.  India intends eventually to have several of the class and to arm them with a 3500 km capable nuclear missile based on the Agni (‘fire’) ballistic missile.  But that will be well down the track: it is not even clear if Arihant yet contains a fully-functioning nuclear propulsion system.

The 2005 Indian Maritime Doctrine makes it clear that this part of the ‘triad’ is directed at China.  According to this document, “China has embarked on an ambitious military modernization programme … the [people’s Liberation Army] Navy, which is the only Asian navy with an SLBM capability, is aspiring to operate much further from its coast than hitherto.”  The 2007 version is equally concerned to point a warning finger at China.

Indian Ocean map.jpeg

Indian Ocean maritime zones