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U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative

U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative

President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Singh announced the U.S-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative in their Joint Statement on July 18, 2005. This Initiative simultaneously provides a process for developing civil nuclear cooperation to help meet India’s growing energy requirements and strengthens the nonproliferation regime by welcoming India into internationally accepted nonproliferation standards and practices.

With approval of the safeguards agreement by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Nuclear Suppliers Group exception now agreed, two of three key steps have been accomplished in bringing civil nuclear cooperation to fruition. The locus of the initiative has now shifted from Vienna and New Delhi to Washington for the third and final step -- approval by the U.S. Congress. Congressional approval would be the culmination of an unprecedented three-year effort by the U.S. and India, working together as they have never before -- in a way that deepens our strategic partnership and strengthens global nonproliferation principals while providing trade and investment opportunities that will assist India to meet its energy requirements in an environmentally responsible way.


Several key objectives were accomplished to bring us to this moment in history. In December 2006, the U.S. Congress passed the Henry J. Hyde U.S.-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act (Hyde Act), which provides a framework in U.S. law for facilitating civil nuclear cooperation with India. In July 2007, the United States and India concluded negotiations on the Agreement for Cooperation between the U.S. and India concerning peaceful uses of nuclear energy (or “123 agreement”), which must be approved by the U.S. Congress. The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria approved the India Safeguards Agreement on August 1, 2008. Another key prerequisite for submitting the 123 Agreement also took place in Vienna, with the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) consensus decision on September 6, 2008 to grant an exception to its full-scope safeguards requirement to permit civil nuclear supply to India. These historic events have welcomed India into the nonproliferation regimes and formed a firm foundation for the U.S. and India to strengthen our efforts in the future to prevent WMD proliferation and to combat terrorism.

On September 10, 2008, the President submitted the 123 Agreement, to Congress for its review and approval. This agreement would provide the legal framework for the U.S. to engage in civil nuclear cooperation with this key strategic partner. President Bush has made the requisite determinations on India’s progress on a number of commitments it made in the 2005 Joint Statement, as provided for under the Hyde Act and the Atomic Energy Act. We believe the 123 Agreement package is consistent with the requirements Congress set out with strong bipartisan support in its passage of the Hyde Act in 2006, and we look forward to continuing our work with Congress to bring the agreement into force.


There are powerful security, political, economic, and environmental reasons to support this Initiative. The U.S.-India Initiative provides significant gains: 1) deepens our strategic partnership with India – the world’s largest democracy and a rising economic power; 2) enhances energy security by helping India’s large and growing population meet its rising energy needs; 3) helps protect the environment (since nuclear energy presents a cleaner alternative than other available options); 4) increases trade, creates new jobs and investment opportunities for U.S. companies; and 5) welcomes India into the nonproliferation mainstream. With respect to the last point, India’s enhanced nonproliferation commitments strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation framework and constitute a net gain for the global nonproliferation regime.

Under this initiative, India remains outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) but assumes important nonproliferation responsibilities and obligations, including separating its civil and military nuclear facilities, accepting IAEA safeguards at its civil nuclear facilities, and signing and implementing an Additional Protocol. India has created a robust national export control system, including through harmonization with and adherence to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) guidelines and annexes. Additionally, India has pledged to continue its unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing and is working with the United States to conclude a multilateral Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty – a longstanding objective of the international community.

Individually, each of these activities helps strengthen the global nonproliferation regime. Together, they constitute a dramatic change in moving India into closer conformity with international nonproliferation standards and practices.


On August 1, 2008, the IAEA Board of Governors approved the India Safeguards Agreement. The Safeguards Agreement provides for appropriate, effective safeguards in perpetuity, based on accepted IAEA safeguards principles, while taking into account India's unique circumstances. India also has pledged to sign and implement an IAEA Additional Protocol, which will provide IAEA inspectors with additional tools for safeguards inspections in India, as well as contribute to the universality of the Protocol and help establish it as the new international safeguards standard – an important nonproliferation goal for the United States, many other NPT States Party, and the IAEA.

India has made public a plan to separate its civil and military facilities, in which 14 reactors, including the 4 presently safeguarded reactors, and other facilities would be offered for safeguards under the agreement. The Agreement is based on INFCIRC/66, the IAEA safeguards system utilized for states not under NPT full-scope safeguards. The safeguards agreement provides that, once safeguards are put in place, they must remain in place until the IAEA and India jointly determine that the facility is no longer usable for nuclear activities. We have made clear to the Government of India that there will be no cooperation on unsafeguarded facilities. As its future civilian thermal power and civilian breeder reactors will be placed under safeguards, we expect that the proportion of India’s nuclear industry subject to such controls will increase over time.

These steps, which will bring more than 65% of India’s reactors under safeguards, have brought India closer to the nonproliferation mainstream, and the United States believes the India Safeguards Agreement represents an important step toward realizing the economic and energy benefits foreseen by the Initiative.


On September 6, 2008, the Nuclear Suppliers group reached a consensus policy decision to grant an exception to its full-scope safeguards requirement to permit civil nuclear supply to India. This historic achievement brings us closer to realizing the important benefits – including nonproliferation benefits – that successful implementation of the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative will bring about.

The United States thanks the participating governments in the NSG for their outstanding efforts and cooperation in forging this consensus on welcoming India closer to the international nonproliferation regime. We also congratulate the people of India on its accomplishments in carrying out the Initiative. India’s commitments will strengthen the international nonproliferation regime and the NSG consensus policy decision has brought us another step closer to realizing full civil nuclear cooperation with India, thus helping the world’s largest democracy gain access to environmentally responsible energy supplies.


The U.S.-India Initiative is about civil nuclear cooperation, not about India’s strategic weapons program. It seeks to enable civil nuclear cooperation with India, a state that faces real and growing energy needs, has a solid nuclear nonproliferation export record, has an established and widespread nuclear infrastructure, and has made enhanced nonproliferation commitments which strengthen the global nonproliferation regime. India’s commitment to continue its unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing, along with the others India made under the Joint Statement, made this Initiative achievable.

Peaceful nuclear cooperation does not fundamentally differ from other forms of energy cooperation (e.g., oil supply, clean coal technology, alternative fuels). The NPT allows for such nuclear energy cooperation with non-parties that do not have full-scope safeguards, so long as such cooperation is under safeguards. And a successfully implemented Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative will create strong energy and economic incentives for India to ensure that its civil nuclear energy sector is properly separated.

This Initiative establishes a firm foundation for additional nonproliferation and counterproliferation cooperation, areas we fully intend to advance through the course of our strategic partnership. We will do everything we can to ensure that the 123 Agreement is reviewed and approved before the end of this Congressional session, and we look forward to working with Congress to bring the Initiative to fruition.


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