India Finally Ratifies its Additional Protocol, but Does it Mean Anything?Posted: June 23, 2014
Last week, our friend Robert Kelley, along with Brian Cloughley, published a report for IHS Janes in which they reviewed and analyzed information about a possible new uranium hexafluoride plant at the Indian Rare Metals Plant (IRMP) near Mysore, India.
Toward the end of the report (which is damned difficult to locate in full text online, by the way, and is also paywall protected) the authors addressed the relevance to this discovery of India’s Additional Protocol with the IAEA:
The divergence between Mysore and the usual level of publicly available information on India’s nuclear programme may have its roots in two international agreements. The first is between India and the IAEA, the second between India and the United States. . .
Neither India, Pakistan, nor Israel have signed the NPT, nor agreed to the 1972-era voluntary agreements. India signed a version of the Additional Protocol in 2009, but never brought it into force. This Additional Protocol does not follow the Model Protocol that other non-nuclear weapons states sign and has no provisions for site access.
In 2008, India agreed to another set of constraints under a special agreement brokered by the US; the 123 Agreement, which governs nuclear co-operation between the US and India. This reaffirms that India is to declare its civil nuclear facilities but not necessarily its military facilities. This agreement allows both parties to enrich uranium up to 20%, but does not explicitly prevent India enriching uranium to higher levels to obtain HEU.
This seems at odds with the wider US nonproliferation agenda, which has aggressively sought to prohibit higher enrichments and repatriate any HEU to the country of origin. . .
On India’s IAEA agreements, in diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks in 2011, the US mission to international organisations in Vienna expressed concern that “the [Indian] Additional Protocol does not go as far as even Russia’s or China’s”, which are already exceptionally weak. The US Congress’s stipulation that the 123 Agreement must be contingent on India completing an “Additional Protocol” is subverted because it is not a “Model Additional Protocol”, and is a very weak one. Moreover, it has not yet been ratified, so is not even officially in force. . .
Notably, the Mysore enrichment plant is not a declared facility for either set of agreements. This is perhaps why India keeps its enrichment plant plans so secret. It only needs to declare civilian facilities, and by not declaring Mysore as a nuclear facility at all, New Delhi is making a tacit admission that it may have a military purpose, such as enriching uranium for nuclear submarine reactors or second stages in thermonuclear bombs.
Despite apparently going against the spirit of the 123 Agreement, India is still formally in compliance with its international commitments, and Washington can claim ignorance of any suspected enrichment in excess of 20%. The secrecy of Mysore is therefore driven by a need to not bring attention to breaking the spirit of the 123 Agreement, and furthermore it exploits the old IAEA agreements that limit powers of inspection.
This is pretty explosive stuff, if you’ll pardon the pun. From the announcement of the US-India nuclear partnership in 2005, through the negotiation of the 123 agreement in 2008, and in that same year as the issue of a waiver for the partnership was before the Nuclear Suppliers Group, India promised over and over again to sign and ratify an Additional Protocol with the IAEA.
It turns out that until this week, they had not followed through on that promise, and it further appears that the Kelley and Cloughley report, which was widely reported in the media, had something to do with scaring them into finally doing it – making the connection as it did to the US 123 and possible endangerment of US-India nuclear trade.
But recall the February 27, 2009 US diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks, which Kelley and Cloughley referenced above. You can see the cable here, and here is a longer excerpt from it:
The IAEA has added to the Board agenda for next week an Additional Protocol (AP) for India. The document was circulated for Member State consideration mid-day Thursday, 26 February. The draft text basically contains an obligation to provide limited reporting on exports to non nuclear weapons states (NNWS). It does not even go as far as the AP’s for Russia and China, the weakest among NWS, and is viewed in the Safeguards Department and the Office of the Legal Advisor as setting a bad precedent for not only Pakistan, but Brazil.
So it’s really questionable whether India’s new AP – now that it actually is in force as a legal source – is really of any marginal advantage to the safeguards regime between India and the IAEA. A friend has referred to the new India AP as a “Mickey Mouse” AP, that really should not be considered to constitute a proper Additional Protocol, on par with those signed and ratified by NPT NNWS.
I have obtained a copy of India’s new Additional Protocol agreement, and the IAEA BOG discussion approving it. I will insert links to both documents below. You can then compare the India AP to the Model Additional Protocol document (INFCIRC/540) that all NPT NNWS are encouraged to sign by the IAEA in its entirety. You can see the Model AP here.